[Movie] The Truman Show (1998)

  • Directed by: Peter Weir
  • Cast: Jim Carrey, Laura Linney, Noah Emmerich, Natascha McElhone

“The Truman Show” is one of the most inventive and thought-provoking moves.

Mike Michaelson: Christof, let me ask you, why do you think that Truman has never come close to discovering the true nature of his world until now?
Christof: We accept the reality of the world with which we’re presented. It’s as simple as that.

from the movie

The film is based on the question of what is real, not from the level of consciousness but from the everyday life of reality. It is no wonder of the popularity of reality shows. We do not like seeing the reality but easily succumb to the desire to see how others actually live. Lacanian psychology shows very useful insights. We see our world through symbols, which is not the same as the underlying reality. We do not see ourselves directly and project our images through the layers of protective symbols. It is really a good thing because it prevents us from going mad.

Another point of inquiry is how our society frames our lives? Are we really free to think or act? Christof, the producer of the Truman show, says, “We accept the reality of the world with which we’re presented.” From birth, everyone has to live in a setting that is presented. Some think God provides us with the setting we live in. What is the difference between Truman Burbank and you or me?

Sylvia: What right do you have to take a baby and turn his life into some kind of mockery? Don’t you ever feel guilty?
Christof: I have given Truman the chance to lead a normal life. The world, the place you live in, is the sick place. Seahaven is the way the world should be.
Sylvia: He’s not a performer, he’s a prisoner. Look at him, look at what you’ve done to him!
Christof: He could leave at any time. If his was more than just a vague ambition, if he was absolutely determined to discover the truth, there’s no way we could prevent him. I think what distresses you, really, caller, is that ultimately Truman prefers his cell, as you call it.

from the movie

The next argument is very powerful. When Truman does not know he is part of the show, can we assume he is a prisoner without free will? Has his life been fake and mockery? Human minds are amazing. Once Truman realizes he might be a puppet in a big theatrical act, he cannot tolerate the same life he seemed enjoying for 30 years. Our gene is meant for social life but not a pawn in a game. We can see why it is so hard to make or even envision a perfect Utopia for everyone. It is I who determine what is best for my life.

Christof: You can speak. I can hear you.
Truman Burbank: Who are you?
Christof: I am the creator… of a television show that gives hope and joy and inspiration to millions.
Truman Burbank: Then who am I?
Christof: You’re the star.
Truman Burbank: Was nothing real?
Christof: You were real. That’s what made you so good to watch.

from the movie

Now the final scene of the movie. “You were real,” even though every other thing is not. It is not just for a reality show. What about our life? Every once in a while, you have time to think everything seems unreal and looks like a dream, even yourself, your existence. But the force to move on is always YOU. I am REAL, and that is my life!

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