”We accept the reality of the world with which we are presented.”
Peter Weir’s smart and stunning The Truman Show is not just a simple movie, it is one of those insightful and delicate artistic creations that try to warn us about a perhaps imminent dark future. 1998, the penultimate year of the twentieth century was probably the best time to make this. The age of communication has not just changed our everyday life, but also our very nature and the way we think. Mass media, with their escalating power and influence, forever changed the meaning of concepts such as freedom, morality, and identity. In this morally challenging piece of cinema, Peter Weir and Andrew Niccol show us what may happen to us if the dominance of media continues. The most terrifying fact about The Truman Show is that what it portrays seems too real, we feel like we’ve seen the real Truman Burbank before, and the nightmare that The Truman Show was picturing has already happened.
The film portrays a world where money is the only thing that matters for TV Networks (i.e., our own world). It is all about your ratings: if you have higher ratings, then you will have more sponsors and more money. Then, you will become more greedy, and you will make bigger and more ambitious shows in order to gain more viewers, bigger sponsors, and even more money. Most amazingly, everyone engaged in this loop feels happy: sponsors will get more customers, TV networks will become richer and the viewers will be happier. This loop will only get bigger and bigger, so it is logical to assume that people involved in showbiz will do anything to guarantee the development of the cycle. Nothing matters as long as that cycle keeps going, so you can even grab a human being and manipulate his life.
The Truman Show is a thematically challenging film, as it poses some really important questions about the nature of media and their influence on people’s life. Andrew Niccol’s excellent screenplay is full of details. It intelligently and patiently introduces its characters and gradually uncovers the mysteries of Truman’s life, and we’re basically in the same boat as Truman. Like him, at first we think that everything is normal. So, when he gets suspicious, we also start to form our own doubts. This characteristic of Niccol’s screenplay is one of the main reasons that we feel so close to Truman.
Jim Carrey gives an awesome performance as the determined and suspicious Truman. It shows that he has the talent to play the most complicated dramatic roles. Ed Harris is as always untouchable in terms of charisma and character strength, and portrays a very convincing “villain.” With Weir’s creative directing and a first-rate screenplay from Andrew Niccol, The Truman Show is a thought-provoking and emotionally intense experience.