Symbols in The Truman Show – freedom vs entrapment

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We have briefly discussed symbols in the film. One thing we have looked at is the ways in which Truman is trapped. We have seen that Truman’s confinement is suggested by a number of symbols of conformity and repression. We have looked at how images of 1950s picket fences, the soldier-like arrangement of images of boots and snarling dogs suggest entrapment. Truman is also trapped by guilt, and he is particularly manipulated by his wife and mother. We see how he is physically trapped in his life, the cubicles at his work are a good example. The film also employs techniques such as geometric patterns to suggest a constructed, fixed and rigid world. We have talked about the use of cages and frames and even the shot of Truman in a convex mirror suggests a fish confined in a bowl. Look out for examples of frames within frames as they are also used to suggest entrapment.

As we have noted, Truman is also trapped by the weather. Usually in a film, birds, the sky and open doors are symbols of freedom. It is ironic therefore that Truman is also confined by the sky and by roads and bridges that go nowhere. He is confined by his fears, and he needs to confront his greatest fear—of water—in order to find freedom. The boat Santa Maria (the Santa Maria  was the largest of the three ships used by Christopher Columbus), represents exploration and finding a new world of freedom. The scene of Truman coming out of the water is used to suggest a rebirth into freedom. For some viewers the fake sky is like the shell of an egg that Truman must break out of in order to be reborn, and the door that he leaves by suggests opportunity and freedom. The door of course also indicates that Truman is stepping out into the unknown.

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