The Truman Show: Special Edition
January 23, 2006
With the proliferation of reality TV shows of all kinds, we aren’t too far away from the premise of The Truman Show (1998). Reality TV proves that people will watch just about anything and Peter Weir’s film takes that notion one step further by having a man’s life documented from birth to adulthood in the most meticulous and mundane detail.
Truman Burbank (Carrey) is a man whose whole life has been broadcast on live television in front of millions of people since he was born. He is the star of a 24 hour seven day a week TV show and he doesn’t even know it. However, this begins to change one day when he sees a light fixture inexplicably fall from the sky. This is only the beginning of a series of events that make Truman question his entire existence.
And with this clever premise, Andrew Niccol’s screenplay proceeds to make some very telling comments on the persuasive power of television. He has created an updated version of Philip K. Dick’s 1959 science fiction novel, Time Out of Joint, with a story that poses some very interesting questions about our voyeuristic society that blurs the line between reality and entertainment. Essentially, we the movie audience are watching people watching a TV show. The moral and philosophical implications of The Truman Show are thought-provoking to say the least. Truman’s best friend, Marlon (Emmerich), since childhood and his wife, Meryl (Linney), have been lying to him all his life. They are actors playing roles but for Truman it is his life. What happens when he learns that his whole life has been a source of manufactured entertainment?
The Truman Show marked a major evolution in Jim Carrey’s career, acting as a bridge from his mindless comedies to more dramatic fare. This movie allowed him to straddle both genres while playing a much more realistic character than he had ever done before. Weir does an excellent job of restraining the comedian’s wild antics. Carrey is only allowed to break out into his usual shtick once in a while and for a short time as it pertains to a given scene. His role might not have been much of a stretch for a more experienced, talented actor but I think that it was a real challenge for Carrey who, up until then, had only demonstrated a limited range. His brilliant turn in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) would not have been possible if he had not done The Truman Show.
And to think that such a thoughtful film came out of Hollywood and starred Jim Carrey no less?! Best of all, The Truman Show ends on a powerful, emotional note that doesn’t feel manufactured or contrived, but seems very real and genuine. Weir did for Carrey what he had done previously for Robin Williams in the Dead Poets Society (1989) by giving him a decent film for which to showcase the comedian’s untapped dramatic potential. More importantly, the film explores the notions of individuality. Does a corporation have the right to own and control a person’s life for commerce and entertainment? Once Truman becomes self-aware he must fight to gain his independence and take control of his own life—something that the rest of us take for granted.
“How’s It Going to End? The Making of The Truman Show” is a two-part retrospective look at the movie with most of the main cast back for new interviews. Not surprisingly, Weir was drawn to the prophetic nature of Niccol’s screenplay which anticipated the reality show craze. His original draft was more in the vein of speculative fiction and much darker in tone. Weir wanted to make it more realistic and near-future. Carrey is present but only in interview footage done during the film’s original release. The cast offer their recollections of making the movie—for them, this was a special project which they still regard highly. This is an excellent, detailed look at this important movie.
“Faux Finishing, the Visual Effects to The Truman Show” explores the film’s sparingly but effective special effects that enhanced Weir’s vision of a hyper-realistic world. This consisted of little touches, like heightening the colours, subtly increasing the size of the moon or curving the horizon slightly and altering the clouds to suggest the fake reality of Truman’s world.
Also included are four deleted/extended scenes. One of them reinforces how important product placement is in the show but felt belaboured and unnecessary. There is also another scene that shows a cast meeting where Christof (Harris) plans a conception scene that will lead to a Truman child and the creation of a second show that is creepy in its calculation.
There is also a photo gallery with behind-the-scenes pictures.
Finally, there are two trailers and two TV spots.