We have been looking at the ideas in The Truman Show and in this post I will look at theme and the structure of Truman’s journey.
The Truman Show was released in 1998 but it has a lot to say to viewers today. The film is seen as quite visionary in a world where reality shows rule the airwaves. It seems everyone seeks to be famous these days!
The film is a satire and as we have discussed it offers a strong critique of the pervasiveness of the media in our lives. Truman’s story is structured so that we can understand this theme clearly.
Truman goes through three stages: discovery, challenge and escape. Let’s start with discovery.
At the beginning of the film we see the creator and the actors discuss the show as part of a documentary. Christof proudly explains that the show is “genuine”. He tells us that the audience love it because “we’ve become bored with actors giving us phony emotions”. The actors who play Meryl and Marlon back him up and tell us that “there is no difference between a public life and a private life” and that “nothing you see on this show is fake. It’s merely controlled”.
These words are of course, undermined by Truman’s discovery that his whole life is a creation. He finds out that he has been lied to and manipulated by everyone he knows. And and that the media has filmed nearly everything he has ever said or done.
In the first scenes of the film when we see Truman he seems happy and content. He doesn’t question what he is told and just cheerfully goes on with his settled suburban life. He has an established routine and he doesn’t vary from it. When the light falls down beside him he is unsettled but believes the hastily provided explanation, that it is an aircraft part.
However, when Truman gets to work we have a hint that he may not be quite as content as we thought. We catch a glimpse of his inner life and we see that he yearns to see someone called Lauren and travel to Fiji.
It is when Truman’s long lost father returns as a seemingly homeless man that the discovery stage of Truman’s journey is really clear. Although others try to manipulate him and convince him that he is mistaken about the things he sees Truman won’t be convinced. He knows things are not right. He can not be controlled as he was before. He won’t believe that he is just being paranoid. He has discovered all is not right in his ‘utopia’ and he won’t be dissuaded from exploring his world and trying to live his dreams.
Next post challenge.