Monday, February 3, 2014

The Simulation of Truman's "Reality"

I've never blogged before, but here goes!!

Peter Weir's comedic Jim Carrey movie The Truman Show, is about a man named Truman who's entire existence has been part of an extremely elaborate and popular reality TV show. As Alexa pointed out in her post "Planet Trumania of the Burbank Galaxy", Weir uses unique camera shot styles, such as the iris shot, to cause the audience to start to sympathize with Truman and believe that his world and his life are some kind of television show. This is one such example of an iris shot in combination with the camera looking through an object (where a hidden camera is placed for the TV show) at Truman:


This kind of image forces the audience to adopt the role of the audience who is actively watching Truman's life play out on their television screens. Weir also has various other cues that attach Truman to the "real" world outside his staged life. There are a few short scenes of people from the outside world watching "The Truman Show" such as the waitress who's watching while working and the man in the bathtub:









These particular shots prove to the audience watching this movie that Truman is indeed being filmed without him knowing. It also makes an interesting point of disproving what is "real". Truman thinks his reality is what's real but then he's just being watching on TV by thousands of other people watching the show. Those people are also being watched by the audience watching the movie. Who's to say we aren't part of some elaborate television program and there's another audience watching us and so on and so forth. The simulation never ends!!

Something else that struck me as interesting were the product placement ads sprinkled around. The ones that come to mind are when Truman's best friend Marlon is drinking the beer (I was unable to find this scene online) and when Meryl (Truman's wife) offers Truman hot chocolate:

These ads make it even more obvious to the audience watching the movie, as well as providing another hint to Truman, that Truman's life is indeed being filmed.

These points are not to say that Truman's life is any less real and valid within this particular movie. Rather, it is real to him and that, in my opinion, is all that matters. Christof, the director of "The Truman Show" show says "I've given him a chance for a real life," a statement that is only partly true; he gave a certain kind of life, but that doesn't make it any more or less valid than the life he would have had without being in the show. Sure it's all been simulated for him, but who's to say we're not being simulated in this world we consider "real"? Reality is, after all, in the eye of the beholder. Truman seemed pretty happy in his reality until things started crumbling around him.

1 comment:

  1. Great minds think alike! So much of your post is similar to what I just wrote on a comment for someone else's Truman post. You and I were interested in so many of the same things as far as the camera shots go. Your notes about the product placement make me wonder what product placement we might be missing in the film. For example, Weir makes it obvious that Meryl is selling the Macocoa, but maybe Truman's car is a Ford, and that slips right by us (I don't know about the Ford-- I am just aware that there are tons of "products" in the film that aren't highlighted as such, but which were certainly chosen deliberately by the director and designer). There are three levels here: the TV show, the film, and the real world where you and I live. I think the movie makes me wonder whether the lines that divide these worlds are as solid as Truman and Christoph seem to think.

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