A Timeless Classic
In 1998, Peter Weir directed a comedy-drama film called The Truman Show about a fake reality within a show. The film ticks a box in an ideal world written by Andrew Niccol. It is a good movie that should do things with its story. However, Weir builds on a brilliant premise, with great direction, impeccable editing and cinematography, and an excellent performance by Jim Carrey. On the other hand, the film does not have that many imperfections.
At such a layer, it made people rewatch and talk about it to this day. As such, audiences and critics alike loved the film, and it remains an enduring but plausible classic. While the film is filled with thought-provoking motifs, themes, metaphors, meanings, and ideas, it discusses the overlapping analysis or philosophy in a subtle but compact way because of its point.
Weir made the film by showing several people on TV. A man named Christof said that the world that humans inhabit, in some ways, is fake. However, one more important thing is that there is nothing fake about Truman himself. It is Truman’s innocent life with “actors” in his surroundings. A woman named Meryl says that Truman’s lifestyle is a lifestyle. It is a life that God truly blesses and honors.
On the other hand, Marlon says that it is, in fact, all true when it comes to Truman’s life. In essence, everything is accurate, and nothing is fake in this case. There is nothing that audiences see on a long-running television show called the Truman Show. Within the film, the audience sees how the television program someone above creates and controls it. It shows the audience a montage of Truman’s life and reflects both the producers and the viewers watching the show.
However, does that also mean that we who watch this film participate in the reflection?
Christof as Truman’s God
When Truman left the house for work and went to the park, everyone greeted him warmly. Such a welcoming ceremony continued down the street until Truman entered the workhouse. People around Truman say good morning to him. In essence, Truman became a subject in this way because people called him. Generally, it is important because if no one greets or takes aim at someone, they do not feel that they are the subject.
Truman’s subject is not as Truman itself as feedback but acts as a response. Although not as Truman either, such a shout made Truman submit to the authority that Christof created. When Truman responded to the people around him, he also made everyone submit. After all, Christof is the person behind the system by diving while drinking water, becoming an authority on his own for Christof.
A False God
In addition to fake reality, Weir also explores God’s religious motifs and allegory in The Truman Show. Christof, the show’s creator, becomes a character study in such a theme. He is the world’s God, where Truman lives in a dome containing a vast city. Christof manipulated Truman’s life to fulfill his desires by creating the world. Apart from being Truman’s personal God, he also stands as a mighty figure watching from above.
At the end of the film, Christof speaks from the sky to Truman by admitting that Christof is the God of Truman’s world. When Christof tries to sink the boat Truman is on; he explores many old myths about Gods. How he controls the weather to challenge ordinary people to achieve such a goal, Christof is a God who is not literal. However, in other languages, he is a false God by doing things divinely.
In the end, Christof did things that even the Gods could not do. In essence, he was everything God could have done for Truman’s personal life. It could also be that he plays the role of God, who gives a “miracle” or “revelation” to Truman after undergoing a long-term test. After a small conversation between Christof and Truman at the end of the film, Christof then lets Truman out of the dome.
Christof is not a false and evil God. He is just not being a hypocrite to Truman. At the end of the film, everyone who reacts to Truman’s actions provides hope, joy, and inspiration for many. He is kind to Truman by actually doing a great favor for him. In many ways, Christof is not just God to Truman. However, he is a father, especially when it comes to the last conversation in the last scene.
The way he touched the screen while Truman was sleeping or even witnessed Truman being born into the world is an example of the father’s representation. Strangely, Christof is the father figure Truman always wanted but never knew about it. In the end, it is the public’s view of looking at religion. The film criticizes how God speaks directly, literally, directly to his servant. Does our reality eventually become real or fake?
There is no such random choice when God controls something that even humans themselves do not believe exists or does not exist. In this case, the reality between Truman and the audience is no accident. Every time it rains, God watches over his servant and listens to his servant every second. By extending such an idea, the film paradoxes an interpretation of both fake reality and the actual reality itself.
Christof compiles Truman’s life with full of fake reality but, on the other hand, gives a significant influence from Truman’s role. The world of Truman is full of a series of simulation frames. Truman sees his father on the street like a tramp in one scene. He chased but could not catch him. At such point, he was surprised how his father reappeared after his father died many years ago. However, he also remembers that they could not find his corpse.
While discussing the events with his mother, she tries to convince Truman that his father died long ago. Simulation, or simulacra for Baudrillard, is the appearance humans perceive as reality. Truman’s father reflects the term in which Christof simulates Truman’s father. In this case, Christof’s way of simulating Truman’s father is by showing an unreal object as if it were real. In essence, simulacra hide the truth itself behind.
Truman’s father also came up with the idea that humans have, which is to hide or pretend not to undermine the principle of reality itself. Hyperreality and simulation define Truman’s reality in a nutshell.
A Cave of Forgotten Reality
While Truman was talking to Christof, Truman hit a “wall” and had a door that Christof himself referred to as a cave. The Truman Show is an experiment about happiness equals ignorance. To paraphrase the sentence, it is about how lies are sweeter than honesty. The dome represents Truman’s self-awareness which is not real but for Truman is real and never knows it. There is nothing more truth out there than the world Christof created for Truman.
The same lie gives Truman a choice: stay in the simulation or face reality. On the other hand, Truman has never had to face a reality he never knew existed. However, it gives Truman a new opportunity to live a new reality in his life. Like everyone in the world, he wants to live and experience objective reality without any lies. Tragic but ironic is that he and the dome are absolute escapes from those who watch Truman for everyone.
The cave is a reciprocal reality between Truman fans and Truman by making an equivalent exchange, a reality of one person being another’s cave.
In essence, does The Truman Show presents the actual reality of things against the fake life that everyone lives? To underline, the film explores the idea that humans need something real by stating that everyone leads a false life. However, this false life is also not what God himself created. Instead, it is humans themselves who create fake lives through media manipulation. Nothing humans see is absolute truth.
It also explains why Truman’s world is very similar to the actual outside world. The answer is evident with thousands of questions: people need reality no matter how bitter it is. That is why the world Truman lives in is ultimately the same world in which the audience all lives. It is also essential to know that Truman is the only thing that matters because he is genuine. It is why people want to keep an eye on him because they need an escape from a lie.
In essence, they prefer to watch other people’s lives than their fake lives. Truman is honest in the end, and everything is fake.
With the sheer number of ideas Weir explores on The Truman Show, it steps away from the fact that the film predicts an impending reality epidemic. There is so much that people need to understand about how toxicity works from the fan base around Truman. When the commercial breaks, people see how the transition between ad-by-ad and corner-by-corner is exposed little by little.
Truman’s general audience explored that the show was just one of many shows. In the end, the trait is poisonous and becomes a method of escape from many truths, lies, anger, and jealousy. All in one, but what may be the most incredible television show ever has not changed at all. The entertainment continues and has never left a dent and impacted society. For example, when Meryl Burbank, Truman’s wife, voluntarily put herself in a similar position to Truman’s, she was in the spotlight every day and lived a fake life for fame, attention, and money.
Different creators gave their lives for money and fame. To take it radically, Meryl only had sex with Truman because she could get a massive bonus for doing so. In the end, she gave up everything and was no different from Truman. In essence, he can only live a fake life voluntarily but get feedback in return.
In Baudrillard’s concept, The Truman Show describes a parallel between fake Disney and reality. Adults behave like children at Disney. Thus, they assume that they do not behave childishly in real life. On the other hand, long-term viewers of Truman’s shows think they live in the real world. With such a program, they do not interrogate reality and the truth. The same effect may also apply to people who watch the film.
In the film, reflections of profound reality alter the nature of reality by masking the absence of such profound reality. In essence, it has no relation to any reality, being a pure simulation on its own. Advertising also plays a vital role in the film. In design and social glorification in all its forms, the meta in the film is socialization. It desensitizes everything about the public sphere and becomes such a message itself.
Although not in the medium of communication, the ad’s audience acts as a reaction that does not turn into an event.
A Critical Film
The Truman Show can be a commentary or criticism of a fake society and reality in a narrative. However, it is about all of us, how people have had their destiny at its deepest core. It is about how we all seek reality because our lives, in the end, are not far from being fake. We all watch entertainment that is meaningless in feeling a reality. In the end, it does not mean the same time, but it does not impact us.
People may want to stay in caves forever. However, some people want to leave the cave. People want to find the truth, but some want to settle a dead lie. The Truman Show, at a subtle glance, is a more critical but pessimistic film. However, it is worth knowing how the film has so much to take away from most lessons.