Regent Film Library Spotlight: The Truman Show
The Truman Show is a classic film that follows the life of a man named Truman (played by Jim Carey), whose life has been unknowingly broadcasted on national television since he was an infant. The never-ending live broadcast is shot on a massive and realistic studio set with hidden cameras everywhere to constantly show every moment of Truman’s life.
The Plot Line:
Truman grows up having no clue that his life is being filmed or that his entire existence is a lie and only exists on the set of a reality TV show. He is blissfully unaware of the fact that everything around him is a masterfully constructed set and everyone he interacts with is a paid actor. Every aspect of his life has been staged and planned from the woman he married to acquaintances he’s made. He leads the average life of a typical guy his age with a steady job, a wife, and of course, awkward moments that make the audience in the movie watching the TV show laugh.
The story really starts moving when Truman starts to discover hidden cameras and meets Lauren, the woman he once wanted to marry. This meeting is the first time in the movie that we see genuine joy and happiness in Truman’s eyes.
After Truman tells Lauren about the hidden cameras he’s discovered, Lauren tells Truman the truth about his life being fake and scripted. She tells him that years ago, when they were young and in love, she told the director and actors that it was not morally right to toy with Truman’s life in such a way. She felt that he deserved the truth. Once Lauren opened Truman’s eyes to see that everything in his life was being manipulated, he became more aware of the cameras and everything being seemingly “perfect” all the time.
This is the turning point in the story. Truman no longer goes blindly with the natural flow of his life. He does not hide the fact that he is catching onto the directors schemes and close to finding out the truth.
In one particular scene, Truman said he was being “spontaneous” to throw the actors and director a curveball and see how things would magically turn out fine despite his spontaneity. The spontaneous side of Truman scares his wife and other actors. They realize that their power and control is slipping away the more he becomes aware of the truth.
Truman’s feelings for Lauren and his desire to leave his everyday life and visit Fiji, are the driving force behind his actions in the film. He cares about Lauren as deeply as making it to Fiji, his dream destination. Truman had dreamed of visiting Fiji since he was a child, but it was more than just a destination, it was a way that he connected with his late father. Getting to Fiji was about making various aspects of his life come to a full circle moment When he figured out that everything around him was fake, it drove him to pursue that dream more. It was the first time in his life that he realized that his dreams could actually be made a reality. The only thing standing in his way was getting off the set.
I recognized three main central themes in the film. The first is the power of the media. Through creative shots and storytelling techniques, we can see how engulfed the world was with Truman’s show. The media’s heavy influence in one man’s life demonstrated that the media had the power to give and take life from various situations and topics. For many viewers in the movie, “the Truman show” was the highlight of their lives and nearly impossible to turn away from. The fact that it was real life presented in a morally wrong way was something that many people could connect with. It was indeed innovative to have such a show on TV. Many had never seen anything like it before. Still, the main consequence was that Truman was hurt in the end. The moral values got lost while making history. There was a scene where an entire family (mother, daughter, and grandchild) sat in front of the television watching “the Truman Show” in the show’s merchandise shirts and hats. The baby had a Truman Show-designed bib. This shows that the media was successful in making what no one had thought of possible and at Truman’s expense.
The second theme is the god complex of the director of the show, Christof. It is clear that the executive producer, Christof, is considered a god-like figure in Truman’s life because of the way he cares and watches over Truman or orders everything that happens in Truman’s life. Near the end of the movie, Truman and Christof have a disagreement about Truman leaving. Christof speaks through a microphone into Truman’s fake TV set and says that Truman has no need to try to escape the set. Christof doesn’t understand why Truman would leave because he has provided Truman with everything he could need (community, food, shelter, employment, etc.). However, Truman realizes that there is an entire world out there that he knows nothing about. He wants to experience all there is to offer in the unknown world. Christof’s desire to control Truman’s world speaks to the way humans often want to be in control and play “god.”
The final theme is love and how it motivates people. Once Truman realized that he was in love with Lauren, he knew he had to take a chance on seeing what the other side (the real world) was like. His love for Lauren made him realize that he was unhappy with the life that he currently had. Changing his life became worth a shot! Truman’s behavior and perception changed. He no longer took things for face value, instead he sought answers himself. For example, in one scene, Truman had escaped the cameras. He put a snowman decoration in the bed to create the illusion that he was fast asleep, but really he had escaped through a hole he dug previously. He was testing the waters to see how far he could go with it and to show that he was fully aware of what was happening to him.
I would recommend this movie. The film did a great job of being introspective and including lighthearted comedic breaks. The film made me realize that we all can learn a lot from Truman. As humans, we want to experience life’s best moments. Life is about doing what makes you happy and achieving your dreams, no matter what. Despite the obstacles that we may face, it will always be worth a shot to go after it. We must chase our dreams because we only have one life to live so we should make it count.
The Truman Show can be found in the Regent University’s extensive film catalog. It can also be streamed for free (with subscription) on platforms such as Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Sling TV, and Philo. The renting price for the film ranges from $2.99-$3.99 on Apple TV, YouTube, iTunes, Google Play Movies and TV.