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Waking Life (2001)

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


4,161 ( 3)
5 wins & 20 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Trevor Jack Brooks ...
Young Boy Playing Paper Game
Glover Gill ...
Lara Hicks ...
Violin Player
Ames Asbell ...
Viola Player
Leigh Mahoney ...
Viola Player
Sara Nelson ...
Cello Player
Jeanine Attaway ...
Piano Player
Erik Grostic ...
Bass Player
Robert C. Solomon ...
Eamonn Healy ...
Shape-Shifting Man
J.C. Shakespeare ...


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 <jmell@uclink4.berkeley.edu>

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 USA:

$88,977, 21 October 2001, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$2,892,011, 28 April 2002
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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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 »


Man with the Long Hair: They say that dreams are only real as long as they last. Couldn't you say the same thing about life?
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 After Life (1998) See more »


Pelo Negro
Performed by TOSCA
Written by Glover Gill
Courtesy of Nois Records
See more »

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User Reviews

Linklater brings us deeper.....
18 August 2004 | by See all my reviews

I recently viewed Waking Life By Richard Linklater and found it to be a truly unique viewing experience. The film deals with the idea of lucid dreams and the nature of our existence and many other philosophical questions. What struck me about the film was the way in which the superb animation was layered over the film. What this achieves is indeed a sense of a dreamlike viewing experience.Everyone has those dreams where they have a great sense of having gone somewhere and done something wonderful when they wake up. It may be difficult to remember details of your surroundings or what exactly you did but you know you were somewhere doing something. The jumpy nature and fluid characteristics of the animation really help to create that very same feeling while viewing the film.

I cannot stress the creative genius of Richard Linklater enough. He appears himself at the end of the movie and brings some closure to the main protagonists' dilemma of being trapped in this dream state. The film highlights the idea of how intertwined our dream lives and our Waking lives are. Memories that we once thought to be real often turn out to dreams and vice versa. Fans of philosophical debate and chat will be in heaven here however those who find themselves easily bored by such discussions may be skipping some scenes.

Finally, Waking Life is another chapter in the pioneering film-making of Richard Linklater. He has given us such gems like Before Sunrise and Dazed and Confused. He has achieved in bringing film back to its essentials.. performance and script.

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