Jim Carrey and Laura Linney in The Truman Show
The Truman Show is quite simply the greatest analogy for life ever put on film. It is that rare Hollywood movie that entertains as well as makes you think and feel. At the time of its initial release, reality television was in its infancy with such shows as MTV's "The Real World" and the "Survivor" phenomenon was a couple of years away. More than a dozen years later we view reality TV as quasi-reality. Do you really think every thing that happens on camera to the Kardashians is spontaneous?
The Truman Show is a reality show of someone's entire life set in a very controlled environment. Truman grew up and lives in a town full of actors who are all in on the act. His best friend, Mom and wife are all just paid actors. Truman knows nothing of this, accepting it all as his normal existence. As Christof, the shows director explains, "We accept the reality of the world with which we are presented."
Christof is the God figure controlling the world of the show. "I am the Creator - of a television show that gives hope and joy and inspiration to millions." He hires and fires, changing cast members as he sees fit, to bring people in and out of Truman's life. To create a fear of water, to keep Truman on the island set, he had the actor playing Truman's father pretend to drown. Years later, with Truman now an adult, the actor who played his father sneaks back onto the set and Truman sees him, putting Truman on a quest for the truth.
Suddenly he starts to see his world with suspicion, as if it is not what he had always thought it was. His wife had a habit of talking about new items she has recently bought. He took it as the norm, while she was actually doing a product placement commercial. Suddenly, he realizes how out of place that is, asking her, "Who are you talking to?" as she holds up a can of cocoa, talking about how good it is. He notices how people on the street are moving but not really going any where. Truman becomes extremely frustrated as his world seems to be coming apart in front of his eyes and he is not sure why.
Have we not all in real life experienced such eye opening moments? How many of us suddenly discovered religion to be a truth or a false. How many of us have read a book or been mentored by someone who opened our eyes to a bigger world. How many of us followed a leader or political party only to discover we prefer another. How many of us have come to the realization that we did not have life as figured out as we thought. If you have not had a similar experience then you are likely still being taken care of by someone else.
Truman is a true man who wants nothing more than to know what is real, what is the truth. He wants nothing more than what every man wants, freedom. No matter how elaborate a man's cage, he will still want the power to make his own choices. No one can make choices for you as no one knows what truly lies inside your mind. Christof says to Truman, "I know you better than you know yourself." Who responds, "You never had a camera in my head!"
Photos © Copyright Paramount Pictures (1998)