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A man shuffles through a dream meeting various people and discussing the meanings and purposes of the universe.


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5 wins & 20 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Trevor Jack Brooks ...
Glover Gill ...
Lara Hicks ...
Ames Asbell ...
Leigh Mahoney ...
Sara Nelson ...
Jeanine Attaway ...
Erik Grostic ...
Boat Car Guy
Robert C. Solomon ...
Philosophy Professor
Eamonn Healy ...
Shape-Shifting Man
J.C. Shakespeare ...
Burning Man


Dreams. What are they? An escape from reality or reality itself? Waking Life follows the dream(s) of one man and his attempt to find and discern the absolute difference between waking life and the dreamworld. While trying to figure out a way to wake up, he runs into many people on his way; some of which offer one sentence asides on life, others delving deeply into existential questions and life's mysteries. We become the main character. It becomes our dream and our questions being asked and answered. Can we control our dreams? What are they telling us about life? About death? About ourselves and where we come from and where we are going? The film does not answer all these for us. Instead, it inspires us to ask the questions and find the answers ourselves. Written by Jeff Mellinger <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and some violent images | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

16 November 2001 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Despertando a la vida  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$88,977 (USA) (19 October 2001)


$2,892,011 (USA) (26 April 2002)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


A section of a Hubert Selby (author of Requiem for a Dream, Last Exit to Brooklyn) book entitled The Room is used in Waking Life, in the part where a red-faced man (played by Charles Gunning) in a jail cell describes in vivid detail the abuse he intends to inflict once he is released. See more »


Alex Jones: Resistance is not futile, we're gonna win this thing, humankind is too good, we're not a bunch of under-achievers! We're gonna stand up, and we're gonna be human beings. We're going to get fired up about the real things, the things that matter! Creativity, and the dynamic human spirit that refuses to submit.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Because almost none of the characters are named, a clip from their appearance is shown during the credits. See more »


References SubUrbia (1996) See more »


Mi Otra Mitad de Naranja
Performed by TOSCA
Written by Glover Gill
Courtesy of Nois Records
See more »

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User Reviews

A mind expanding experience.
23 January 2003 | by (Helsinki, Finland) – See all my reviews

I greatly enjoyed Waking Life, I was most impressed by the animation and the philosophical dialog that just kept hanging on the characters' every word. This movie is not for everyone, at least not for those who like their films 'light'. The fact is that Waking Life consists mostly of the main character discussing philosophical topics with various colorful characters. At some point it was difficult to remain concentrated to everything the characters say, for they were rambling quite discoursively, making the audience feel like they're attending a lecture. But the animation makes up for that, because the film has so much visual content that one could also watch it with out the dialog, just being immersed in the art.

I'm not an expert in philosophy, I've just taken one beginners class, although i am interested in the topic. In reply to complaints condemning the film pretentious or complaining that it's philosophical ideas are old or overused. I'd say that Waking Life, rather than trying to reinvent philosophical theories, tries to present these ideas in the form of a film the same way as Jostein Gaarder's book 'Sophie's World'. It could in that way function as a sort of 'window' into the world of philosophy, a first touch. I'd hesitate calling it a beginners guide to philosophy as the language is demanding, especially for non natives. But on my part, I feel having expanded my horizons, by experiencing Waking Life. This movie can be enjoyed on many levels, and also a whole spectrum of interpretations can be drawn from it, watch it and see what it makes you feel.

52 of 72 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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