[[quoteright:350:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/waking_life_778.jpg]]

->'''''"Dream is destiny."'''''

''Waking Life'' is a 2001 [[{{Rotoscoping}} semi-animated]] film by Creator/RichardLinklater. The plot follows a young man walking through a lucid dream where he observes and enters into dialogue about lofty philosophical concepts and theories. The film itself was initially shot on digital video, and then drawn over by a team of animators. The resulting look is fairly unique, and manages to evoke dream-like imagery on a shoestring budget.

Despite lacking a traditional plot, visuals, or even trained actors[[note]]excluding Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy, Wiley Wiggins...[[/note]], the film won a great deal of praise for its innovation and unique look. RogerEbert would add it to his list of Great Movies in 2009.

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!!This rotoscoped animation provides examples of:

* AmbiguouslyBrown: The Dreamer, played by Wiggins.
* ArcWords: "Dream is destiny."
* AllJustADream: Inverted. It's the point of the plot, not a plot point.
** Played with by Speed Levitch:
--->'''Speed:''' And as one realizes... that one is a dream figure in another person's dream, '''''that''''' is self-awareness!
* AuthorAppeal: Richard Linklater is very passionate about philosophy. He's also admitted that his lucid dreaming played a part in the writing.
* BookEnds: The beginning and end of the movie take place at the same house and the same car. [[spoiler: Only in the end, the Dreamer is unable to hold onto the car door.]]
* CallBack: When the dream transforms into a nightmare, several characters reappear as different characters.
* TheCameo: Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy play their characters from ''BeforeSunrise'' and ''BeforeSunset'' in one scene, also written and directed by Linklater.
** As mentioned above, Alex Jones, the fringe political radio host, basically plays himself for one scene.
** Two {{Creator Cameo}}s; Linklater is the other hitcher on the boatship at the beginning and the pinball player that speaks with the main character near the end.
** The woman who talks about her life in the past tense played Wiggins' mother in ''Film/DazedAndConfused''.
* {{Cloudcuckoolander}}: The old man on the telephone pole. Deconstructed by a group of characters who muse they're no better than the old man:
-->'''Man #1:''' Stupid bastard.
-->'''Man #2:''' No worse than us. He's all action, no theory. We'll all theory, no action.
* ContemplateOurNavels: Pretty much the whole point.
* CreatorCameo: Linklater, twice. {{Lampshaded}} by The Dreamer.
* CreepyMonotone: "I remember where I came from and how I became a human. Why I hung around. And now my final departure is scheduled. This way out. Escaping velocity. Not just eternity, but infinity."
* [[spoiler: DeadAllAlong]]: One interpretation, but by no means the only one. The Dreamer frets about it near the end, telling his fears to [[CreatorCameo the pinball playing man.]]
-->[[spoiler: '''TV Woman:''' All through the centuries, the notion that life is wrapped in a dream has been a pervasive theme of philosophers and poets. So doesn't it make sense that death, too, would be wrapped in dream? That, after death, your conscious life would continue in what might be called, "a dream body"? It would be the same dream body you experience in your everyday dream life. Except that in the post-mortal state, you could never again wake up, never again return to your physical body.]]
* [[spoiler: TheDeadCanDance: The waltzers near the end of the film seem to be engaged in a ''danse macabre''.]]
* DerangedAnimation: Several scenes specifically; arguably the film's style as a whole.
* DespairEventHorizon: When The Dreamer [[DreamWithinADream wakes up from a dream to find himself in another dream]] once too often, he despairs and [[spoiler: starts to think he's already dead.]]
* DreamWithinADream: The entire film.
* EmpathicEnvironment: As The Dreamer grows depressed, and the subject starts to broach the subject of [[spoiler: death]], the world similarly becomes darker and more forboding, as the soundtrack starts to become more dissonant and threatening.
* FollowTheLeader: Both this and ''{{Slacker}}'' are heavily inspired by Louis Malle's ''MyDinnerWithAndre''.
* GainaxEnding
* IJustShotMarvinInTheFace / RecklessGunUsage: Steven Prince accidentally shoots the bartender to see if his gun's still loaded. [[spoiler: The bartender gets him back.]]
* MindScrew: Much of the film, though one scene in particular is notable. The protagonist is discussing a woman's plan for a "real-life" soap opera when he realizes he's dreaming again. He then asks her what it's like being a dream, inflicting this on the woman (her dialogue becomes ''much'' less composed). She still challenges The Dreamer:
-->'''Soap Opera Woman:''' We seem to think we're so limited by the world and-- and the confines, but we're really just creating them. And you keep trying to figure it out, but it seems like now that you know that what you’re doing is dreaming, you can do whatever you want to. You're, uh, dreaming, but you’re awake. You have, um, so many options, and that's what life is about.
** Then, when he says that he'd been passive (in the first half of the movie), just listening to other characters orate:
--->'''Soap Opera Woman:''' It's not necessarily passive to not respond verbally. We're communicating on so many levels simultaneously. Perhaps you're-- you're perceiving directly.
* MoodWhiplash: All of the place. You go from [[BeforeSunset Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy]] in bed dreamily discussing reincarnation to a red-bodied prisoner screaming about revenge to David Sosa calmly discussing free will to Alex Jones yelling about corporate slavery through a car bullhorn, for instance.
* NoNameGiven: Nobody in the film has a name. The credits have to use pictures of the characters for identifying the actors. It's even a minor plot point that the main character can't remember his name ([[TruthInTelevision which is also pretty hard to do in your real dreams]]).
** EveryoneCallsHimBarkeep: The main character is called "The Dreamer".
** Creator/StevenSoderbergh [[AsHimself plays himself]] and is listed as such in the credits.
* [[RedEyesTakeWarning Red Body Take Warning]]: The prisoner's entire ''body'' is red, an external representation of his rage.
* {{Rotoscoping}}
* SchroedingersButterfly: The film is a series of psychedelic sequences which mostly feature the main character as an observer, and many of them segue with him waking up yet again.
* SeinfeldianConversation: Averted with great prejudice.
* TheSingularity: Early in the film, the protagonist listens to a man give a lengthy rant on this topic.
* SpeechCentricWork: Various characters talking - indeed, in some cases ranting - for the duration of the running time. That's it.
* SpiritualSequel: Linklater's 2004 ''Film/AScannerDarkly'' adaptation. Both were shot in the same rotoscoped style.
** Also, ''Waking Life'' itself to his first film, ''Slacker''. Both go from character to character, discussing whatever's on their mind. ''Waking Life'' has slightly more plot, though.
* StealthParody: Possibly used against Radio/AlexJones. While he is yelling one of his monologues over a car loudspeaker, the animation slowly increases his skin hue to brighter, darker shades of red. This could just be a simple exaggeration used in many pieces of animation, or a reference to the imprisoned psychopath who is shown in the same way earlier in the movie.
** However, it may just be because he is behind a windshield which has a severe glare; only the general features of Jones could be seen in the original Mini-DV video.
* [[TranshumanAliens Transhuman Alien]]: Implied by the Creepy Monotone speaker.
* UncannyValley[[invoked]]: The entire point of the rotoscoping.
* YouLookFamiliar: In-universe. Everyone from the first scene (in the "Boat Car") reappear again as different characters.
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''Super perfundo on the early eve of your day...''
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