Existentialism is a type of philosophy that was very trendy in France after World War II as made popular by the quintessential philosopher, John Paul Sartre. A suitable introduction to existential ideology, The Stranger is a novel written by Albert Camus, a novelist and existentialist alike. Films that exhibit existential philosophy are the rotoscoped Waking Life by Richard Linklater and I Heart Huckabees by David O. Russell. The work that best conveys the ideas of existentialism is The Stranger due to its brevity and how it is so well written.
I will start with the inadequate works of existential ideas. The 2001 rotoscoped film Waking Life was fun to watch, but incredibly boring once you get past the effects. I can’t imagine trying to watch that film without rotoscoping, I do not think I would have made it through. That being said, I do not think this film worked as an existential learning tool because of it’s lack of an overarching message. It may have been just me, but the thought that he was continually waking into another dream never crossed my mind until it was brought up at the end.
Frankly I was otherwise occupied trying to follow the “plot” if you could even call it that. The movie felt like a documentary masked by a teenager plodding around questioning everything. The existential ideas were present but incredibly underdeveloped, it seemed as though they did not delve into any of the ideas they presented. They presented one thought provoking idea, and then he moves on. It felt like they had too many ideas crammed into one movie and failed to execute it well. This film just should not have been made. I feel as though out of the three works we studied Waking Life comes in last place due to it’s utter lack of a plot and underdeveloped existential ideas.
The film I