The Truman Show is not the first film to star Jim Carrey. As of 1998, when this picture was released on wide screens, he was already known to the public for two parts of “Ace Ventura”, films “Dumb and Dumber”, “The Mask”, “The Cable Guy”, “Liar, Liar” , and even Batman Forever. However, at that time in his piggy bank there was not yet “Majestic”, “Man on the Moon”, “Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind” and even, God forgive me, “The fateful number 23”. In other words, it was a kind of debut of a famous comedian in a not too comic film, after which they first began to look at him as a very good dramatic actor.
Usually, when people who have watched The Truman Show are asked how the film made them feel, they are talking about something kind, warm, positive and inspiring. It is difficult to disagree with the latter, because the ending of the picture is a completely unambiguous happy end. As for everything else, the fact that the film was shot at the end of the twentieth century played a very important role here.
If you look at this story with an open mind, then it is unlikely to be able to bring a warm smile. A person has been kept in isolation since childhood, frightening him with a fictional story about the death of his father, so that he would not dare to leave the city. All the twists and turns of his fate are prescribed by the scriptwriters, all the people he meets are actors, and literally every step he takes is watched by hidden cameras. And, in addition, all this is broadcast live to millions of TV viewers.
In modern conditions, such a storyline would be quite suitable for the next series of “Black Mirror”, where it would be turned into a real thriller, terrifying the viewer from the first minute of viewing and only giving the opportunity to exhale nervously after the relatively happy ending of the story. But this is not at all such a movie – it is really a surprisingly positive picture, practically not causing psychological stress, which is often recommended for watching with children, friends, buddies, “second halves”, relatives – in short, with everyone with whom it is possible.
All escape attempts are doomed to failure
Modern people, again, would dub the creator of such a show as a psychopathic maniac. What is the story that Truman’s father allegedly drowned right in front of his eyes when he was a child, forcing the guy to stay within the allocated location. Christophe literally developed a phobia in an innocent person from scratch, so that he would follow his plan and did not interfere with the success of the transfer.
However, people tend to overcome their fears over time, so Christophe is not limited to this alone. Literally every day, the so-called “news” and special films are broadcast on Sihawen’s television, in which it is directly or indirectly stated that travel is always fraught with danger. “Live the way you live, stay at home and don’t stick your head out anywhere, follow the plan and don’t try to break it” – this is what Truman Burbank is hammered into his head every day.
When the protagonist of the show finally begins to suspect something (partly because of Sylvia’s words, partly because of his own analysis of his past years), the attempts to keep him within the confines of Sihaven become even more ridiculous and obvious. An unexpected and no less suddenly disappearing traffic jam, the establishment of a quarantine due to a nuclear accident, the lack of plane tickets for the entire next month, a bus breakdown – we all understand that this looks too unrealistic, and that Truman also guessed everything.
Sylvia is the only one who cares
In the film, we are repeatedly told that the show has been going on almost since the birth of Truman Burbank and has been going on for thirty years. In other words, for thirty years hundreds of people have continued to work on this show (including playing Truman’s parents and friends), and for thirty years millions of TV viewers have continued to watch it. Over the years, no one has doubts about the ethics of what is happening, no one wants to open the guy’s eyes to the real state of affairs and free him from this vicious circle.
You may have heard of the Stanford Prison Experiment or even watched one of the films based on it. If not, then in a nutshell: the volunteers were randomly divided into prisoners and guards, after which they were asked to live in the basement of the psychology department of Stanford University for some time. The basement was designed in the style of a classic prison and, naturally, was equipped with a large number of cells. After a very short time, sadistic tendencies awoke in many of the “guards”, and many “prisoners” received serious psychological trauma. The experiment had to be completed ahead of schedule.
And now for the reason why this experiment was worth mentioning in connection with The Truman Show: only the fiance of Philip Zimbardo, who organized the Stanford Prison Experiment, raised the issue of ethics when she first saw what was happening there. Before that, several dozen observers followed the experiment, but none of them thought about how immoral it all was.
Therefore, the fact that no one is trying to help Truman Burbank is perhaps very realistic. In fact, this is a very important and deep problem, which the director does not seem to focus on, raises it casually and reluctantly. After all, as we remember, this is a light and positive film, and not a serious film designed to draw attention to pressing social issues. Still, it is Sylvia (the only one of all time) who tries to tell Truman the truth, and it is she who (for the first time ever) tries to organize a campaign in support of Burbank outside of the show.
The complex of the Most High
The creator of the show, who feels himself to be a kind of God of this small world and strives with all his might to keep in it the main “chip” – the key character – also touches a lot of urgent problems. Authoritarian, egocentric, he is ready to practically drown the disobedient Truman, but not let him leave. And when this is not enough, he sets in motion psychological pressure: he scares the guy with the dangers of the real world, suggesting instead of leaving him to continue this absurd imitation of life.
And again the ethical side of the issue
The ending of the film is further proof that the director wanted to show much more than it might seem at first glance. The two viewers deciding what else to watch on the “zomboy” stand in sharp contrast to the storm of emotions and the sharpness of plot twists that we saw before. Within the framework of the world of the film, these are real people, real events and real lives, but for the viewers it is all just a show. A show that does not concern them, events because of which they will not worry, and people whose fate they are indifferent.
In a word, under the cover of the enchanting atmosphere of the films of the late 90s and some melodramatic nature of this film project, very serious and very controversial topics are hidden. And the only good news is that the main character as a result leaves the system and begins his own life, despite all the attendant difficulties.