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Richard Linklater On His Dreamy 'Waking Life'

© 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Are we wake-walking through our dreams, or sleep-walking through life? Or is it the reverse?  Director Richard Linklater’s vibrant, joyful 2001 film "Waking Life" follows an unnamed protagonist, played by Wiley Wiggins, as he wanders through a series of vignettes, encountering artists and thinkers that share their ideas about dreams, consciousness, philosophy, and making connections with one another.

The film is unique not only for its narrative structure, which loosely resembles Linklater’s earlier film "Slacker," but for its technique. Linklater shot and edited the film on digital video, and then a team of artists and animators digitally “painted” over the movie with a computer software program developed by Bob Sabiston.  The resulting images shift subtly on screen, further enhancing the dreamlike effect of the film.

Linklater says he had been thinking about making the movie for 20 years, but only felt it would work after he saw Sabiston’s animations.

By then he was in his late thirties, and Linklater says "Waking Life" took on a slightly different shape from when it was originally conceived.  “All those kinds of existential questions you ask yourself in your teens and twenties, you never quite answer,” he says. “[And] as you get older, these things become even more enigmatic.  I was really charged by rediscovering my concerns as a younger person, but from an older perspective.”

The San Antonio Museum of Art presents a screening of "Waking Life" on Tuesday, May 11, 2010 at 7 p.m. A question and answer session with Richard Linklater follows the movie.

In the above linked interview, Linklater talks about the inspiration for "Waking Life," and also about documenting the darker side of high school in "Dazed and Confused," and he muses on whether he’ll continue the series of films following Jesse and Céline, two characters he first introduced in the 1995 romance "Before Sunrise."

Online: Follow a Disqus group dissecting the movie "Waking Life" here: http://wakinglifemovie.net/

Nathan has been with TPR since 1995, when he began working on classical music station KPAC 88.3 FM, as host of “Tuesday Night at the Opera.” He soon learned the ropes on KSTX 89.1 FM, and volunteered to work practically any shift that came his way, on either station. He worked in nearly every capacity on the radio before moving into Community Engagement, Marketing, and Digital Media. His reporting and criticism has been honored by the Houston Press Club and Texas Associated Press.