Wake Up

"Happiness is a choice. Life goes by fast, wake up."

Wake Up is a short film by Greek director Kostas Karydas about happiness and living life to the fullest. It features reflections on life by ageing characters and delivers a strong message about the importance of enjoying life and making the most out of it. Surprisingly enough, Wake Up is one of the very few short films to address the subject of happiness frontally and in such a positive way.

Three main characters (with a number of supporting characters), shifting subjectivity in narration and a focus on happiness, life and perspectives from older age are the main elements of the short.

Staged in a park in an urban area, the short employs contemporary props and costumes and varying color palettes to distinguish the different sequences, employing colder colors for the internal subjective shots and warmer ones for the characters in the park.

Wake Up plays with narrative points of view and subjectivity in narration, using subjective internal shots for portraying what the senior man is thinking, but adding a plot twist towards the end that shows that the initial sequence of the senior men in the park was actually a dream from the one of the same characters at a younger age. Life portrayed as a dream (or an illusion) is a common theme appearing in theater and literature by authors such as Lope de Vega, Shakespeare and Jorge Luis Borges, as well as in philosophy, from Hinduism, Buddhism and Greek classics to René Descartes (see “Dream argument” on Wikipedia).

Visual rhythm is high, handled through editing, camera moves (pans, tilts, cranes, handheld cameras) and motion within the frame. Two-shots and close-ups abound to capture the dialogue of the senior characters, transmit their emotions and build their POVs and subjective internal shots. Wider shots are used to describe the environment and the interactions between a number of characters. Camera moves are intentionally used to make the subjective internal sequence of the younger people more dynamic. Editing is worth highlighting, it employs related actions and similar camera angles to successfully match cuts. Also worth noting is that director Kostas Karydas is responsible for writing the script, composing the music as well as editing the film. It’s clearly a highly personal project.

What makes Wake Up work so well? Strong important message, tight editing, playful use of subjectivity in narration for effective plot twist and a subject that will relate to a wide audience and will leave many people thinking.

Recommended reading: Top five regrets of the dying


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