The Truman Show

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey) is the unsuspecting star of The Truman Show, a reality television program in which his entire life, since before birth, is filmed by thousands of hidden cameras, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and broadcast live around the world. The show’s creator and executive producer Christof (Ed Harris) is able to capture Truman’s real emotion and human behavior when put in certain situations. Truman’s hometown of Seahaven is a complete set built under a giant arcological dome in the Los Angeles area. Truman’s family and friends are all played by actors allowing Christof to control every aspect of Truman’s life. To prevent Truman from discovering his false reality, Christof has invented means of dissuading his sense of exploration, including “killing” his father in a storm initiated by Christof while on a fishing trip to instill in him a fear of the water, and making many news reports and commercials about the dangers of traveling, and featuring television shows about how good it is to stay at home. Despite Christof’s control, Truman has managed to behave in unexpected ways, in particular by falling in love with an extra, Sylvia (Natascha McElhone), known to Truman as Lauren, instead of Meryl (Laura Linney), the character intended to be his wife. Though Sylvia is quickly removed from the set and Truman marries Meryl, he continues to secretly pine for her. Sylvia becomes part of a “Free Truman” campaign that fights to free him from the show.

During the 30th year of The Truman Show, Truman notices certain aspects of his near-perfect world that seem out of place. A theatrical light falls from the artificial night sky constellations, nearly hitting him (quickly passed off by local radio as an aircraft’s dislodged landing light) and Truman’s car radio picks up a conversation between the show’s crew tracking his movements. Truman also becomes aware of more subtle abnormalities within his regular day-to-day life, such as the way in which the same people appear in the same places at certain times each day and Meryl’s tendency to blatantly advertise the various products she buys. Truman’s supposedly deceased father then reappears on the set dressed as a homeless man and is whisked away as soon as Truman notices him. (In a deleted scene, Truman gives a sandwich to a wheelchair-bound man, and then sees him jogging two days later. When the man denies everything, Truman points out he was wearing the same sneakers with the taped initials attached.)

Despite the best efforts of his family and his best friend Marlon to reassure him (the latter being fed lines of comforting dialogue by Christof through a wireless earpiece), all these events cause Truman to start wondering about his life, realizing how the world seems to revolve around him. Meryl grows increasingly stressed by the pressure of perpetuating the deception, and their marriage unravels in the face of Truman’s increasing skepticism and attendant hostility towards her. Truman attempts to leave Seahaven but is blocked by his inability to arrange flights, bus breakdowns, sudden traffic jams, a forest fire and a nuclear meltdown – which he becomes skeptical of when the policeman, whom Truman had never met before, calls him by name. After Meryl breaks down and is taken off the show, Christof officially brings back Truman’s father, hoping his presence will keep Truman from trying to leave. However, he only provides a temporary respite: Truman soon becomes isolated and begins staying alone in his basement after Meryl leaves him. One night, Truman fools the cameras and escapes the basement undetected via a secret tunnel, forcing Christof to ask Louis to search for Truman, but they realize he is gone, causing Christof to temporarily suspend broadcasting of the show for the first time in its history. This causes a surge in viewership, with many viewers, including Sylvia, cheering on Truman’s escape attempt.

Christof orders every actor and crew member to search the town, even breaking the town’s daylight cycle to help in the search. They find that Truman has overcome his fear of the water and has sailed away from the town in a small boat named Santa Maria (the name of the largest of the three ships with which Christopher Columbus sailed to the New World). After restoring the broadcast, Christof orders the show’s crew to create a large storm to try to capsize the boat, prompting a heated debate with his superiors over the morality and legality of killing Truman in front of a live global audience. Truman almost drowns, but his determination eventually leads Christof to terminate the storm. As Truman recovers, the boat reaches the edge of the dome, its bow piercing through the dome’s painted sky. An awe-struck Truman then discovers a flight of stairs nearby, leading to a door marked “EXIT”. As he contemplates leaving his world, Christof speaks directly to Truman via a powerful sound system, trying to persuade him to stay and arguing that there is no more truth in the real world than there is in his own, artificial world. Truman, after a moment’s thought, delivers his catchphrase, “In case I don’t see you… good afternoon, good evening, and good night”, bows to his audience and steps through the door and into the real world. The assembled television viewers excitedly celebrate Truman’s escape, and Sylvia quickly leaves her apartment to reunite with him. A network executive orders the crew to cease transmission. With the show completed, members of Truman’s former audience are shown looking for something else to watch.

REVIEW:

People today seem to go crazy about reality shows, the stupider they are, the more they seem to watch. These insults to intelligence have taken over society so much that a few channels have changed their format to show more “reality”. I’m looking at you MTV! I hate reality tv and do all I can to avoid it, but that didn’t stop me from watching The Truman Show.

What is this about?

Truman Burbank is the star of “The Truman Show,” a 24-hour-a-day TV phenomenon that broadcasts every aspect of his life without his knowledge. When Truman discovers that his life is a sham for public consumption, he makes a desperate escape bid.

What did I like?

Premise. At the time this was released, reality TV hadn’t taken over and polluted the airwaves, yet, so the idea of a 24-hr show watching a guy grow up for 30 yrs is quite intriguing. I’m actually surprised no one has tried this yet, but there might be legal reasons keeping that from happening.

Truman. Jim Carrey’s career at this time was all about him being the insane, rubber band man that we know from In Living Color and the Ace Ventura movies, among other things. This is one of those few times that he takes a “serious” turn, though there are some comedic moments. I applaud Carrey’s stab at something different, and he actually doesn’t do a bad job as a serious actor. I was actually a little surprised, but it is when he goes back to the comedic moments that he really shines.

World. This whole world that Truman lived in was something to behold. It is just a city in a dome, basically, but the fact that for 30 years cameras stayed hidden from him because of where they were conveniently hidden was pretty cool. Ed Harris’ character’s manipulation of things, otherwise known as producing, kept everything hidden from Truman, even going so far as to create a situation that causes him to develop a fear of water. For a reality show, this is some impressive feat!

What didn’t I like?

Cheese. Many people seem to not care about the “cheesy” shows from the 50s. As anyone that knows me can attest, I love the shows from back then. The show part of this film seems to go that route, but then it stops. For me, I think they could have capitalized more on the cheesy product placement.

Reaction. Occasionally, we get a flash of what the people in the “real world” are reacting to what happens to Truman as things happen. The fact that people are that obsessed with this one show is insane, but then again, people are the same way with the crappy stuff that comes on today, so I really shouldn’t be surprised.

Protest. The girl who Truman desires in high school/college gets taken away for her attempt to tell Truman the truth. Fast forward to present day and she’s a model or something who is still protesting that Truman is stuck in the proverbial bubble. My problem with her is that she is made out to be this radical protester, but she never does anything, except for that one call to the studio. We see all those signs in her apartment, and that’s it. It seems to me that she should have been shown to be riling up some protests.

Take away the reality tv aspect of The Truman Show, which has long been a deterrent for me regarding this film, and this is actually a pretty great film. However, my hatred for all things reality related has caused a deep prejudice. I still say this is a good little film that I felt could safely watched by audiences of all ages. Do I recommend it, though? Sure, there isn’t anything here to say no, so give it a shot!

4 out of 5 stars

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