Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Truman Show
The Truman Show (1998) is a movie directed by Peter Weir, written by Andrew Niccol, and starring Jim Carrey. Niccol was due to direct the film until Carrey was signed. It was felt that Carrey's $12 million salary was too great an investment to leave in the hands of a second-time film director, and Weir was drafted.
The film is set in a hypothetical world, where an entire town is dedicated to a continually running television soap opera, where all but one of the participants are actors. Only the central character, Truman Burbank (Carrey), is unaware that he lives in a constructed reality, for the entertainment of those outside. The film follows his discovery of his situation and his attempts to escape. On the surface level, it criticizes greed, portraying people who would do anything for fame and money. Central characters pretend friendship to Truman, and in the case of his "wife", bury their real feelings of disgust.
Truman was chosen out of many unwanted babies to be a TV star. However, he is an explorer, and especially, he wants to find a girl that back in college was caught trying to explain things to Truman. Eventually, however, Truman begins to figure out that it's all fake. Everyone tries to reassure him, but Truman has already reached the point of no return, and escapes.
Along his path to truth and escape, Truman encounters various obstacles placed in his way, including but not limited to, choreographed traffic jams, a forest fire, a long bridge to cross (knowing that he is afraid of water), and an artificially created hurricane-force storm on the "ocean". He finally reaches the edge of the constructed reality, and exits via a door in the wall.
The Truman Show can be considered a parody of the soap opera genre and reality television. It also draws heavily on themes of gnosticism: this religious school teaches that the world we live in is essentially false, and the creation of a somewhat evil and twisted god called the Demiurge. Another religious theme connects the film to the Book of Job, where Satan, in a wager with God, puts Job through a series of hardships to see if he will renounce God's name. Another possible religious allegory could be that of the Garden of Eden, where Adam (Truman), eating from the tree of knowledge (discovering the unreality he leaves in), leaves Eden (the perfect town Truman lives in).
Close viewing reveals many subtle references to subjects ranging from classic television (The Prisoner) to the Bible. For example, the number of the boat (139) represents Psalm 139, where the Psalmist talks about God knowing the Psalmist's location and his every thought. The creator of the television show, "Christof" (Ed Harris), tries to take God's role, but Truman refutes this claim ("You never had a camera in my head"). Of particular interest is the line "Surely darkness shall hide me, and night shall be my light", which we see literally when Christof hunts for the escaped Truman.
One alternative ending was less hopeful than the one that made it to release. The more hopeful one in the finished film was a result of collaboration between writer Andrew Niccol and director Peter Weir.
Truman: Truman is made up of the two words: "True" and "Man". This is supposed to remind us of the fact the Truman is the only real personality in the show, and that everyone else is fake.
Meryl: Trumans's wife is named for Meryl Streep, an actress. She is so named because she is merely an actor posing as someone who loves Truman, while she has no true feelings for him.
Marlon: Truman's best friend is named for Marlon Brando. Like Meryl, he is only an actor, and has no genuine feelings of friendship for Truman. This is most apparent during the dock scene, when he blatantly lies to Truman, telling him "I can't be part of 'it' because there is no 'it'.".
Christof: The creator of Truman's universe, an allusion to Christ. Indeed, Christof oversees the universe from the sky or heavens inside his studio inside the moon.
Philip Glass appears very briefly in the movie as one of the in-studio composer/performers. The soundtrack contains excerpts from his scores for Powaqqatsi and Anima Mundi , as well as some music composed for The Truman Show. Glass shared a Golden Globe Award with Burkhard von Dallwitz for the score.
The name of the artificial place where Truman lives is "Seaheaven Island".
The film also explores the idea of a 24-hour on-air reality television program funded entirely by product placement. Everything seen on the show can be bought, and is listed in a catalog. The actors routinely break the fourth wall while addressing the TV audience with ads. This confuses the protagonist, who does not realise that he is part of a show. Products include:
- Mococoa - "All-natural chocolate drink, made from beans grown on the upper slopes of Mt. Nicaragua"
- Kaiser Chicken - ubiquitously advertised free-range chicken meat
Truman Burbank is said to have been the first child legally adopted by a corporation, Omnicam Corporation, which produces the show.
The domed city used as a studio for the program is advertised as being one of the only two man-made objects visible from space, together with the Great Wall of China. Whether the Great Wall can actually be seen from space is open to debate. See its article for more details.
Cast and roles include
- Jim Carrey - Truman Burbank
- Laura Linney - Meryl, Truman's "wife"
- Noah Emmerich - Marlon, Truman's "best friend since they were seven"
- Natascha McElhone - Lauren/Sylvia, a young woman who tried to tell the truth to Truman when they were in college. She had to leave the show, and Truman was made believe that she had left for Fiji
- Holland Taylor - Truman's "mother"
- Brian Delate - Truman's "father". His death by drowning was engineered when Truman was a child, thus initiating his fear of water. The character was reintroduced into the show as an attempt to calm Truman suspicions about the world in which he lives
- Blair Slater - Young Truman
- Peter Krause - Lawrence, Truman's boss
- Heidi Schanz - Vivien
- Ron Taylor - Ron
- Don Taylor - Don
- Ted Raymond - Spencer
- Judy Clayton - Travel agent
- Fritz Dominique - Truman's neighbor
- Angel Schmiedt - Truman's neighbor
- Nastassja Schmiedt - Truman's neighbor
- Muriel Moore - Teacher
- Mal Jones - News vendor
- Judson Vaughn - Insurance co-worker
- Earl Hilliard Jr. - Ferry worker
- David Andrew Nash - Bus driver/Ferry captain
- Jim Towers - Bus supervisor
- Savannah Swafford - Little girl in bus
- Antoni Corone - Security guard
- Mario Ernesto Sánchez - Security guard
- John Roselius - Man at beach
- Kade Coates - Truman (4 years)
- Marcia DeBonis - Nurse
- Sam Kitchin - Surgeon
- Sebastian Youngblood - Orderly
- Dave Corey - Hospital security guard
- Mark Alan Gillott - Policeman at power plant
- Jay Saiter - Policeman at Truman's house
- Tony Todd - Policeman at Truman's house
- Marco Rubeo - Man in Christmas box, a TV infiltrator when Truman was a child
- Darryl Davis - Couple at picnic table
- Robert Davis - Couple at picnic table
- R.J. Murdock - Production assistant
- Matthew McDonough - Man at newsstand
- Larry McDowell - Man at newsstand
- Joseph Lucus - Ticket taker
- Logan Kirksey - TV host
- Ed Harris - Christof, the creator of the show
- Paul Giamatti - Control room director
- Adam Tomei - Control room director
- Harry Shearer - Mike Michaelson
- Una Damon - Chloe
- Philip Baker Hall - Network executive
- John Pleshette - Network executive
- Philip Glass - Keyboard artist in control room
- John Pramik - Keyboard artist in control room
- O-Lan Jones - Bar waitress
- Krista Lynn Landolfi - Bar waitress
- Joe Minjares - Bartender
- Al Foster - Bar patron
- Zoaunne LeRoy - Bar patron
- Millie Slavin - Bar patron
- Terry Camilleri - Man in bathtub, watching the show on TV
- Donna Hardy - Senior citizen
- Jeanette Miller - Senior citizen
- Joel McKinnon Miller - Garage attendant
- Tom Simmons - Garage attendant
- Susan Angelo - Mother
- Carly Smiga - Daughter
- Yuji Okumoto - Japanese family
- Kiyoko Yamaguchi - Japanese family
- Saemi Nakamura - Japanese family
- Jake Eberle - Classical Clive (uncredited)
- Marc Macaulay - (uncredited)
- Mickalean McCormick - Assistant to Christof (uncredited)
- Kevin D. Ross - Talk show caller (voice) (uncredited)
- Review by Andrew Leong
- Psalm 139
- Philosophical and moral issues in The Truman Show
- Rotten Tomatoes' selected quotes from critics on The Truman Show
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