In this movie, Truman is a man whose life is a fake one... The place he lives is in fact a big studio with hidden cameras everywhere, and all his friends and people around him, are actors who play their roles in the most popular TV-series in the world: The Truman Show. Truman thinks that he is an ordinary man with an ordinary life and has no idea about how he is exploited. Until one day... he finds out everything. Will he react? Written by
Chris Makrozahopoulos <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The 'set' is supposed to be right behind the Hollywood sign/hills, but in the satellite view, the set is in the southeast LA region, 20 miles from the Hollywood sign. See more »
We've become bored with watching actors give us phony emotions. We are tired of pyrotechnics and special effects. While the world he inhabits is, in some respects, counterfeit, there's nothing fake about Truman himself. No scripts, no cue cards. It isn't always Shakespeare, but it's genuine. It's a life.
See more »
Opening credits are for the "real" Truman Show, with lines like "starring Truman Burbank as himself" and "created and directed by Christof". See more »
Life is starting to imitate satire. "The Truman Show" was only made seven years ago, but it predates the current mania for so-called "reality" television shows such as "Big Brother". The idea behind such shows is that they present the viewer with a slice of actual reality- real people in real situations with real emotions- rather than the simulated reality of drama or the edited reality of documentaries. The flaw in this idea is that nothing is more unreal than a reality show. The presence of the cameras has a distorting effect, inducing artificial behaviour patterns in those who appear in front of it, and the sort of people who star in such programmes are almost invariably eccentric exhibitionists. "The Truman Show" takes the central concept of reality TV shows one stage further in order to overcome this flaw: what would happen if we made a reality programme about a person who has absolutely no idea that he is appearing on television? Truman Burbank is an insurance executive, living in a small American seaside town called Seahaven, and happily married to a nurse named Meryl. Or at least he thinks he is. What Truman doesn't know is that he is the central character in a soap opera and that his whole life is a fiction. The company he works for does not exist. Seahaven, the island it stands on and the surrounding ocean are all part of a gigantic set, specially created for the programme and sealed off from the outside world in a gigantic geodesic dome. Everyone in Truman's life- Meryl, his mother, his colleagues at work, his best friend Marlon- are actors playing out their roles in his drama.
For thirty years Truman has accepted his world unquestioningly, but at the beginning of the film a series of incidents- a light falling from the sky, the reappearance of his father, who was supposed to have drowned in a boating accident when Truman was a boy, strange messages picked up on his car radio- awaken his doubts. Although members of the cast make strenuous attempts to dissuade him, he decides to try and explore the world outside Seahaven; in particular he wants to travel to Fiji where he has been told that his former girlfriend Sylvia now lives. (Sylvia was written out of the show when the scriptwriters decided that he should marry Meryl instead).
The film has certain similarities with another film from the late nineties, "Pleasantville", which dealt with an inverted version of the same idea; two teenagers from the real world are magically transported into the world of a fifties television show. In my view, however, "The Truman Show" is the better of the two. "Pleasantville" deals with its political themes in a heavy-handed way with some very obvious symbolism. "The Truman Show", although it deals with some weighty issues, is never ponderous or excessively serious; indeed, it is often very humorous. The main source of humour is the contrast between the naïve, trusting Truman and the behaviour of those around him, all living a lie and desperately trying to prevent Truman from finding out that it is a lie. I had previously thought of Jim Carrey as a rather annoying actor whose appeal was based upon the idea that manic overacting is in itself funny, but here as Truman he is very good indeed, both amusing and touching. I was also impressed by Ed Harris as Christof, the show's enigmatic producer.
Another factor in the success of the film is its visual look. Seahaven (like the town in "Pleasantville") appears as an eerily perfect, not-quite-real version of the typical American small town, but was actually filmed in a real place, the purpose-built village of Seaside, Florida. There are similarities with the cult British sixties television series "The Prisoner", which was also filmed in an eerily perfect seaside village, Portmeirion in North Wales.
The film is obviously a satire on the intrusiveness and obsession with celebrity of the modern media; added relevance was given by the fact that it came out shortly after the death of Princess Diana. There is, however, more to it than that. Much has been made of the film as religious allegory; it has been pointed out that Christof whose name is clearly, and quite deliberately, similar to "Christ", is a God-figure, whereas Truman (the "True Man") is a symbolic Everyman. It has even been claimed that the film is an anti-religious allegory, with Truman's final escape from Seahaven symbolic of man's need to break away from outdated religious dogmas. This is not an interpretation with which I would agree- if one is trying to put across a "God is dead" message, it seems odd to provide a God-figure who is very much real, not mythical or illusory. The imagery of the final scenes the calm after the storm, the ascent up a flight of stairs into the sky and clouds- also struck me as religious rather than secular. Moreover, the film seems too complex to be reduced to any single allegorical meaning, although it certainly deals with the relationship between man and God. It also touches on man's need to explore- both to explore new places and also to explore new ideas and to break away from established ways of life and ways of thought- and on the nature of reality. Truman's world may seem unreal to us, but as Christof says, "we accept the reality we are presented with".
This is a brilliant, multi-layered film, part comedy, part satire, part philosophical speculation, and in my view one of the two best movies of the late nineties. (The other was "American Beauty"). I felt it should have taken the "Best Picture" Oscar for 1999- "Shakespeare in Love" is a good film, but "The Truman Show" is a great one. It confirms my view that Peter Weir is one of the best directors currently working. 10//10
36 of 43 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?