Peter Weir’s high-concept The Truman Show shows another side of Jim Carrey to his viewers, a face who was more easily recognizable through comedic roles going from Ace Ventura to Dumb and Dumber. If The Truman Show, however, were not Peter Weir’s best film (that honour goes to the exquisite Picnic at Hanging Rock), it might also be his funniest one, also in the sense that he has indeed created a clever attack upon running governments within the form of a reality television show that is taken to the extreme. Where I’ve no doubt lies therein, The Truman Show, as the following decade has approached, became one of the most important films of its own era.
Citizens across the globe are always fascinated with television shows and how they develop, for they carry the exact same story and move more within episodes. The Truman Show, as created by Christof, is something else. Reality television shows still carry the exact same concept but only to show actual people, yet we are never sure what is true especially when we are only watching events through each episode. The Truman Show, however, runs 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, with no interruption whatsoever, and runs a same routine with Truman Burbank as its star. Everything in The Truman Show itself is a construct. Everyone is an actor, events are set up to move as they go by the director’s wishes, but Truman is not. Truman is real, and he believes everything is real until he recognizes a pattern being set in motion.
Everything in The Truman Show moves at a routine, just like a government that seeks to keep everything at a specific rule. Truman Burbank is a figure who recognizes the monotony of this pattern and seeks a means to get out. Everyone around the area plays a character, but Truman is not. Because everyone is inside of character, there’s a worldview to which The Truman Show is criticizing and it involves a life had everything moved not because we know we want everything to, deep down, it is not a lifestyle which we would ever force upon ourselves. There’s a big question being presented as the actors gather together in interviews, they seem fine during such processes but why do they do it, and what do they gain? It was always a question at the back of my head as I rewatched The Truman Show countless times but it became clear soon enough what the film was satirizing that made it so clever.
Christof, the creator of a television show, has so much power over how things move around in here and at the same time, he also has captured the world through their fascination with television as they continue watching Truman’s life from birth to his eventual death. No one wants out because under Christof’s eyes, everything must move in the manner it does – and Truman, from childhood, has wanted a way out (he wanted to go out and see the world, but Christof wanted to find more ways in order to keep him inside of a false reality). In this false reality, it comes because everyone moves like they would under a strict government rule. Fighters against the regime get punishment, as noticeable through how Truman notices his father, who supposedly was dead, was an actor that turned out to be alive, and was soon pushed away through odd circumstances.
Our fascination with the way such rules work is where The Truman Show has found itself achieving great success. A constructed routine has taken over ourselves and in turn taken that away from us. Few fighters against such a rule are present and Truman Burbank is the most active. It’s amazing how precisely Peter Weir and Andrew Niccol capture such through both what has been accomplished behind the camera as director and screenwriter, for Weir has formed within The Truman Show such a unique world that accurately captures a specific fascination with media but at the same time an attack upon an oppressing system, just as Andrew Niccol’s bite when it comes to dialogue and sense of humour is added in, forming what is most wonderful about The Truman Show.
Everything works at a fascination as The Truman Show is showing us, much like our world. Everything as shown in The Truman Show works under a strict rule and gives a punishment to those who want nonconformity. The satire in The Truman Show still remains amongst the most powerful to have been put on the screen in its time. The performances, especially from Jim Carrey and Ed Harris are still amidst career bests. Within the high concept, this comedy-drama has only grown stronger in terms of relevance as age has come by and for as much a laugh riot it can be, the many thoughts about the world we live in that it can inspire are beyond the limits. I remember seeing this for my first time at a young age on television and I am still in as much awe as I was back then for my understanding has only grown stronger since.
Watch the trailer right here.
All images via Paramount.
Directed by Peter Weir
Screenplay by Andrew Niccol
Produced by Scott Rudin, Andrew Niccol, Edward S. Feldman, Adam Schroeder
Starring Jim Carrey, Laura Linney, Noah Emmerich, Ed Harris
Release Year: 1998
Running Time: 103 minutes