1998: The year of Google’s inception, the final episode of Seinfeld and, most notably, Peter Weir’s The Truman Show. Starring Jim Carrey as the hopelessly missguided Truman Burbank, Weir eloquently frames a television show within a movie translating themes of deception, entrapment and self-awareness ‒ or the lack thereof.
Satirizing reality tv in its purest form, The Truman Show rewrites what it means to be on the silver screen while defying genre restrictions within the film world. Having never known a world beyond the man-made dome known as “Seahaven,” Truman lives among paid actors and extras, only existing in the real world on a 34 inch technicolor screen. Inciting the envy of narcissists everywhere, Truman’s world quite literally revolves around him, though he seems oblivious to the artificiality around him: from the sets and surroundings to the roboticism of Seahaven’s citizens and his everyday interactions with them. Mimicking the cult-ish energy of Rosemary’s Baby with the hilarity of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Weir’s genre-bending simulation feels more and more authentic the closer Truman gets to discovering his feigned existence.
The omnipresent hidden cameras and stage lights in Truman’s world beautifully resonate with the visual elements of the film. Fluorescent lights bounce off the wonderfully plastic makings of Seahaven and the multitude of cameras diversify the angles at which we capture Truman’s suspicion turned bewilderment. The rudderless realization is enhanced by the blinding cinematography of the film as well as the ying-and-yang performances of Carey and his mendacious co-stars. The most awe-inspiring scene illustrates Truman’s final moments in Seahaven, climbing up the steps along what he believed was the sky, but is rather a vibrantly painted steel wall which once bound his entire existence together.
In its twenty year anniversary, The Truman Show remains more relevant than ever: for in the age of social media facades and booming reality television, Truman’s nightmare parallels pop culture, standing a little too close for comfort. The repressed fear that arises from Weir’s narrative is living for nothing but others’ entertainment ‒ seeing as how Truman’s life was far from his own ‒ but this apple does not fall too far from the tree we know as Snapchat or Big Brother. Upon analysis, the viewers depicted in the film who we criticize for fueling the popularity of the show do not stray behaviorally from our own actions when watching The Real World or Keeping Up With The Kardashians. We believe that self-exploitation is what is expected of us, much like Truman believed the constant stares he was given were isolated incidents, for as the curator of Truman’s reality argues, “we accept the reality of the world with which we are presented, it’s as simple as that.”