"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 is nothing fake about Truman himself
No scripts, no cue cards;
It isn't always Shakespeare, but it's genuine.
It's a life."

    --Christof, producer of the Truman Show*

Truman Burbank is an ordinary man, in an unordinary life. The premise of the movie is that he is the property of a corporation (the first person to have been legally adopted this way, according to the movie); a real human being raised in a fictional world for the purpose of watching a person's life unfold. Everything in his life has been controlled: his wife, his friends, his job, everything. All he does or has is an act for his benefit, for the entertainment of the world, until it becomes unraveled. Ironically (and most likely intentionally) the name Truman was chosen, begging the allusion to "True Man", signaling in essence that Truman was pure, and untouched by the outside world in many ways. Similar movies have shown the innocence and purity of television in a similar light (see also Pleasantville).

Movie themes generally come out in twos (Armageddon, Deep Impact; that sort of thing). The Truman Show had a similar Reality TV movie cousin in EdTV, a suprisingly good movie along a similar concept, except the man voluntarily had his life filmed.

A personal refection:

The idea behind the Truman Show is disturbing; how long would it take someone to discover that their world isn't right. It begs us to look at the decisions we make, and how much free will we actually have. If one man could decide the fate of another, how much does it happen now? He spends a huge chunk of his life in a predictable storyline, controlled and manipulated; I see it as a good way to question yourself on many points:
  • Could I be Truman? Not so much as a paranoid that people are watching, but are we really as free as we all like to think? How predictable are we, and how much are our decisions controlled by those in positions of power?
  • Do I value this form of reality entertainment? In the movie, the Truman Show was a phenominon. Some people in real life very much get into this form of voyueristically watching others, obsessing over shows such as Survivor, and their ilk. It was a big craze in the year 2000, into 2001. People in ancient Rome used to watch people get torn apart by lions; it is sad for me to think that we have evolved into watching people tear each other part.
Truman show is an excellent dramatic movie, although I wish the ending would give a little bit more detail. After the final scene, the movie leaves you wondering what the final outcome is, and what happens down the line. Otherwise it's a great "make you think" movie. I don't place a lot of stock in the dramatic skills of Jim Carrey, but in this outing he does rather well.

All in all, a very good screenplay, and one that is acceptable for all ages, although younger audiences may not understand or get the impact of the movie.

Cast (Major Players):**
  • Jim Carrey - Truman Burbank
  • Ed Harris - Christoph
  • Laura Linney - Meryl
  • Noah Emmerich - Marlon
  • Natascha McElhone - Sylvia (Lauren Garland)


* Transcribed from the movie (DVD)
** Transcribed from the credits

Truman Burbank is the fictional main character of the movie "The Truman Show." The Truman Show is a voyeuristic reality TV show directed by a man who considers himself an artist, Christof. The show takes place in the largest set ever created, a small town called Seahaven, which is inside a huge dome, then second man-made construction that is visible from space. Everything in Seahaven is controlled, everybody but Truman is an actor, each playing a role in Truman's life; his wife, friends, co-workers are all actors, everyone knows they are the star of the internationally broadcasted show, except Truman.

"Nothing here is fake, there is nothing false about the Truman show, it's merely controlled" says Truman's best friend Marlon.

Raised in the perfect town, exposed intentionally to nothing evil, Truman is a cliché. Everything he says has been created for him through his life to the point he is almost like one of the actors. Broadcast live, 24 hours a day 365 days a year, The Truman Shows cast is the same population of a small country, and they believe theirs is a truly blessed existance.

To raise revenue to fund the show there is product placement, everything on the show can be purchased, from the clothes they wear to the foods they eat.

As a child, Truman was restricted to certain areas of the set to keep maintinence down, as the set was still being built, an example of this can be seen when a young Truman attempts to climb a wall of rocks at the beach, and is stopped by his father who tells him "you have to know your limitations."

Truman's limitation is one of the themes of the film, with teachers, parents, and friends discouraging him from doing anything adventurous since his childhood, they warn him of the perils of places outside Seahaven.

Up until his mid 30s Truman hadn't been outside Seahaven, and had no great desire to, holidays had been faked for him as a child. One day Truman decided he wanted to get away, to go to Fiji; "You can't get any further before you start coming back," he exclaims to Marlon.

Less than subtle obstacles stop Truman from going anywhere, for example posters of planes crashing at the travel agent, and a bus that convieniently breaks down when he tries to get to Chicago. Eventually, Truman decides to up and go. With his wife, Meryl, in the car he tries to outdo the cued traffic that stops him, then gets to the bridge across to what is supposed to be the mainland stops him, Truman's father died in a boating accident when he was a child, which has inspired a fear of water in him ever since. However, today, instead of making an excuse to get away from the water, he plants his foot determindly on the accelerator and forces his wife to steer across the bridge. After this ordeal, Truman faces a bushfire, and then a nuclear hazard which stops him. Or so the audience thinks until he jumps out of his car and tries to run for it, but is stopped by nuclear workers.

This oppression makes Truman even more determined to escape, as he senses something is wrong. The next week Truman tricks the cameras by sneaking out of his house and leaving a plush doll under his blankets to make it appear that he is sleeping, Truman then takes a sailing boat and faces harsh storm conditions that Christof creates to stop him, and sails to the end of his world, where he runs into the wall of the set. Upon doing this Truman alights from the boat, and literally touches the sky where the edge of the set is painted on, this symbolises Truman's conquest of his fear and shows him that the sky's the limit.

At this point, Truman discovers stairs out of the set, and as he slowly climbs them Christof has one final attempt to keep him there, telling Truman he knows him better than Truman knows himself, to which Truman replies "you never had a camera in my head."

Truman then finds the set door, and exits with a bow and the end of his clichéd greeting "...In case I don't see you, good afternoon, good evening, and good night!" Then he smiles and exits The Truman Show.

Three years ago, I wrote briefly for the now defunct eyepiece.com. The following was a review dated June 6, 1998.
The Truman Show
Paramount, Rated PG

If Hollywood would go back to making more films like this instead of more plotless and soulless excuses for spending a lot of money on nothing but special effects, more people would actually be able to take some pride in working within the studio system. It would be easy to imagine your typical cheesy ending tacked to The Truman Show, but the script stays crisp and solid right to the last second. Had Paramount released it during the Christmas season (instead of being bumped aside by Titanic), it would have been a excellent contender for the Academy Award (though Titanic is still a fine film, despite any backlash against the hype)... and The Truman Show would surely have garnered a screenplay nomination as well.

There is a difference between what a film is, and what it becomes after the marketing department gets through with it... in this case, a comedy about a man in a virtual zoo. It's too bad the filmmakers don't have as much say in the writing of the ads as they do in the film. I can now only wonder what it would've been like to go into the theater not already knowing that Jim Carrey was actually on TV or that Arnold was actually the good guy on T2. The Truman Show isn't really a comedy and it's not really a drama (in that old family-struggles-through-unforeseen-crisis way). Part of what makes it so engaging is its failure to fit in any established genre. You might say it's a lighthearted but hard-hitting scifi mystery social-commentary, with a heart.

While it would have been too easy to present the world outside the show as a "bleeding heart liberal" view of grime and crime, it merely looks real, with just a touch of dull lighting to hint that it's not all a Leave It to Beaver world in the real reality. But inside the show, you might say Truman Burbank is living in a minor version of heaven.

Since films get their funds from a different source than TV, it's always a bit easier to criticize "that other medium". But the Truman Show also takes stabs at product placement, a phenomenon seeping into the film industry much to the embarrassment of those filmmakers who still feel some sense of sacredness about their craft.

Ed Harris is as excellent as the man on the moon as Carrey is wonderful as everyman. The rest of the cast is equally first rate. But to Weir and Niccol's credit, the story itself is the real star... a welcome relief from the films starring a tornado or a lizard. I would have to subscribe to the belief that stars don't make a movie, a movie makes a star, and then the star makes the box office. Here's hoping Carrey gets The Truman Show the box office it deserves.

There are parallels with this year's earlier Dark City in The Truman Show's dissection of reality. Who knows, you may be on TV right now as you read this review... sent either as a hint or merely a provocation to see how you would react.

Some things I notice, now rereading my writing, besides what has been mentioned previously:
1. Playing on the pride of those working in the industry.
2. Attempts at social commentary in a film review? What is this world coming to?

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