An appreciation of the influences of surrealism, Dadaism, and expressionism as reflected in the film Waking Life should begin with an appreciation of the distinguishing features of the three isms. In general terms, films that embrace the aspect of surrealism will often tend to portray certain cinematographic techniques in unnatural, and bizarre, unrestrained, and nearly superfluous representations to capture the essence of the subconscious potential. This is usually meant to uncover the hidden truths and potentials that are naturally restrained by the conscious processes. The reliance on the subconscious to create new meaning and expand on old realities requires a determined shift from the usual order, which is synonymous with the conscious world. In this film, the film director employed multiple techniques to achieve the aspect of surrealism (Linklater 67). The visual and audio techniques of the film evoke a sense of strangeness that dislocates natural truths as known in the physical world. By representing characters and situations in dreamlike worlds, the director achieves the purpose of aligning the aspects of reality in distorted forms. There seems to be no established order and the representation of the physical forms is generally distorted or, in some cases, altogether formless. The representation of these aspects of reality might be considered as one of the primary considerations of the director in his desire to engage the subconscious processes of the mind. The discussions that take place in this film are generally aimed at emphasizing on illusory realities, which are held as supreme and limitless. For instance, the protagonist eventually floats to oblivion at the end of the film. He is lifted by indescribable forces and appears to have finally transited into the dream world and woken up from the illusion of the physical world in line with the reflections that dominate the film. It might be necessary to regard this aspect of floating as the ultimate triumph of the super-real over the real. Paranormal feelings and actions are brought out in the reflections and actions of the film to unleash the full potential of the subconscious processes. The use of light and colour also contributes to the development of the surrealistic features of the film. There is little balance in colour, which makes the representations to appear incongruous and altogether indescribable. In this manner, it makes sense to consider this film as the ultimate representation of alternative forms of existence that can be achieved by harnessing the power of the subconscious mind. Dadaism has very close relationships with surrealism and is usually regarded as the parent idea from which surrealism emerged. Dada art usually seeks to unsettle aspects of reality in ways that does not make sense within the conventional systems. Both surrealism and Dadaism emerged in Europe after the periods of war as a rebellion by artists to the ways of thinking that culminated into the chaos (Elger 71). They were embraced as the antithesis to the dominant systems of thought. Dadaism would embrace mediocrity, nonsense, and outlandish qualities to expand on the various aspects of reality. It would be important to regard these forms of art as encompassing the entire
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