The Truman Show Good morning, Literary Expressions
Reminder • Essay- Choose at least two of the four movies we have watched in class. These movies have quite a few running themes. Demonstrate one of these themes discussing how the directors critiqued the chosen theme.
The Truman Show • In this movie, Truman is a man whose life is a fake one... The place he lives is in fact a big studio with hidden cameras everywhere, and all his friends and people around him, are actors who play their roles in the most popular TV-series in the world: The Truman Show. Truman thinks that he is an ordinary man with an ordinary life and has no idea about how he is exploited. Until one day... he finds out everything.
Theme in “The Truman Show” • Appearance vs. Reality
Appearance vs. Reality • Essentially the Appearance vs. Reality motif is about the difference between what the world appears to be and what it really is. For example, a small town may appear to a visitor to be full of sweet, wholesome country people who are too innocent to understand the ways of the corrupt world around them. In fact, this town may be peopled by knowledgeable, possibly crafty people who could thrive in any environment they chose to live in.
Appearance vs. Reality • In The Truman Show, it appears that Truman lives in a benevolent, peaceful world. In fact his world is a prison that relies on the fact that Truman does not know he is a prisoner. The lovely small town of Seahaven turns into that prison when Truman makes his escape.
Motif • A recurrent thematic element in an artistic or literary work. A dominant theme or central idea.
Names Sometimes Have Meaning • Truman: True Man • Burbank: City in California where television is produced. This real life city's nickname is "Television Capital of the World." It is near Hollywood. Truman is the only True Man in Television. • Christof: Of Christ, created by god • Seahaven: "Sea" represents Truman's fear; "haven" is a place of safety
Hints at the God motif: • Truman = True Man • The show itself is not directed by but "Created by" • Christof: The obvious allusion to God is made by the show's "Creator" • Meryl says that life on The Truman Show is a "truly blessed life"
Truman's boat is called the Santa Maria (also the name of Chris Columbus’ boat ) • Truman hangs on the boat with his arms spread like Jesus on the cross. • Truman seemingly walks on water after hitting the wall. It does not matter that he is walking on a platform at the edge of the set, it is the image that the director, Peter Weir, gives you to see. If he gives you this scene, he is conveying an allusion to an event you are meant to understand.
A voice from the sky says to Truman, "I am the creator." • The voice from the sky says to Truman, "You're the star." • Truman climbs a stairway to heaven. He finds it is a door. It is a blackness to the "other side." It is the end of this life he has known. He will enter it and cross over to the other side and live again. It is his resurrection.
Savior Motif • This is not the traditional savior motif where a character is given the characteristics of Christ or God so that the audience or reader can see that he is sacrificing himself for the good of others. Rather here, the screenwriter Andrew Niccol indicates that this is what can happen when man plays god. Because the television station (and therefore its representative, Christof) adopted Truman, he is the son of the creator of his world. The allusions that link Truman to Christ are to indicate that he is a pawn in a master plan. It is not that Truman is divine, but rather a "true man" in the artificial world that has been built for him.
Christof is a bad god. He uses fear to control his creation. Christof imposes the fear of water on Truman in order to contain Truman's universe and keep him small. Truman, by going through the door into nothingness faces down his creator and becomes a creature of free will and independence rather than the unknowing laboratory experiment he has been since birth. Look also at what Weir is saying about the nature of God, or at least this god: It is not Truman who needs his creator. It is the creator who needs his creation. Without Truman, Christof is nothing.
Thus does the movie offer us a metaphor for our own situation. The fake landscape Truman lives in is our own media landscape in which news, politics, advertising and public affairs are increasingly made up of theatrical illusions.
Like our media landscape, it is convincing in its realism, with lifelike simulations and story lines, from the high-tech facsimile of a sun that benevolently beams down on Truman to the mock sincerity of the actor he mistakenly believes is his best friend. It is also rewarding and masquerades as something benevolent. And it is seamless -- there are almost no flaws that give away the illusion -- at least until things start to go wrong.
Truman's fear of leaving this invented world, once he realizes it is a fraud, is similarly like our own reluctance to break our symbiotic relationship with media. His growing suspicion that what he is seeing is staged for his benefit is our own suspicions as the media-fabricated illusions around us begin to break down.
The movie depicts just such a change in attitude as a transformation in the way Truman sees his surroundings and as a physical journey. • The movie also depicts the critics who invite us to see through media illusions in the form of characters who try to warn Truman he is on television.
So Truman and the audience depict us. We're the villains and victims and hero of The Truman Show. And, ultimately, the only illusions we have to escape are the ones we create ourselves.