Jan 11, 2020 in Analysis

Truman Show Analysis

Every morning billions of people wake up. Someone enjoys life, and someone is unhappy. Someone seeks for opportunities to organize his or her own lifestyle, while passively walking through life. Every person in varying degrees has a freedom of lifestyle. Therefore, the ordinary person cannot imagine that somebody can be deprived of this option in order to please the audience. The Truman Show by Peter Weir provides a unique opportunity to see the life without freedom of choice. Mr. Truman Burbank found himself in an extremely uncomfortable situation. All his actions are being monitored twenty-four hours a day and do not have any significant result. Moreover, the world around him is completely artificial, and every person around can be an actor. However, Truman does not have delusions or paranoid disorder. He is the hero of the most ambitious television show in the world. At the same time, the Weir’s movie, as well as Truman’s story has numerous interpretations. The ideas stated by author range from the negative impact of soap operas and television to totally philosophical claim that surrounding world is some kind of universal show hosted by the Creator.


Insurance agent Truman Burbank is in his thirties. He lives from infancy in utopian town named Seahaven that was built specially for him. His relatives and friends, as well as all residents of the city, are the actors who skillfully perform their roles. Moreover, he is the major star of the reality show called “The Truman Show” which is broadcasted uncut for twenty-four hours a day for viewers throughout the world. However, giddy and careless Truman starts to notice some strange details and suspicious inconsistencies that indirectly confirm those strange phrases that he once heard from a pretty woman named Lauren. One day he begins to understand that everything around him is fake. Moreover, mysterious invisible creator named Christof controls every Truman’s step in this unreal world which is placed in a large pavilion near Hollywood. In order to keep Truman on the island, Christof even stages the death of his father from drowning. Therefore, Truman has a panic fear of water. However, in the end, Burbank reaches the end of his world and literally stumbles on a painted sky. He decides to run away from this “paradise” despite Christof’s claims and entreaties.

The reflections about freedom and importance of choice are the explicit themes of Weir’s movie. The conception of freedom is essential for human life and morality. This concept supposes the human ability to act according to desires, ideals and aspirations in terms of moral and society. The director clearly draws the analogy between Truman, who found the artificial origin of his reality and Shakespearian character, who claimed that “all the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players.” However, after Truman realizes that his life is controlled, he decides to escape but does not succeed in first attempts. At the same time, the strength of his solutions is so great that he prefers to die in the sea rather than to go back to old careless life. The director insists that not everyone can change their lifestyle because a modern person is surrounded by numerous fears and prejudices. No one knows the consequences of each particular decision. However, Truman Burbank after thirty years of ideal life went fearlessly into a new world without any suggestions about the future because he believed that reality is better than artificial life. 

At the same time, the relationships between parents and children constitute the implicit message of the film. Christof, the other central character, is not only a director of the show. In the scene when Burbank falls asleep, the viewer sees that Christof considers himself as the real father of Truman. He sincerely believes that Truman received a unique chance to live his life to the fullest. According to him, the world where ordinary people live is abnormal while Seahaven is an absolute paradise where there are no violence and crimes. Therefore, when Christof claims that main character can leave at any moment, he lies. Parents often create an unreal world around the child following good intentions. Moreover, parents can try to limit or completely control child’s communication and lifestyle. However, Peter Weir shows that these good intentions, in fact, have an extremely negative origin. In the final scene, Christof is even ready to kill Truman preventing his search of freedom. If a child is deprived of the opportunity to make even the simplest choice and take the responsibility, it will inevitably lead to the family conflict. Therefore, the director insists that any parent should not be afraid to give the child freedom of decisions and choices.

At the same time, The Truman Show has another interpretation that is related to the cultural and historical context. The film denounces the consumer society and the negative impact of television. In America, TV became an integral part of the modern community and a unique social institution. In the 90s, American television went into the era of reality shows. At the same time, the audience received a significant freedom of choice because of the appearance of cable channels. However, such diversity formed a consumer society. In Weir’s movie, there are two tips that immediately allow to feel the hidden irony of the narrative. The name of the main character sounds the same as the “true man” while Burbank is the allusion on the Burbank town in California where several largest Hollywood studios are located. Thus, the name and surname of the main character oppose the sincerity and television. The producers of the show renounced personal freedom of the protagonist while the audience remained silent in anticipation of pleasure. Moreover, after the culmination scene where Truman finally finds an exit, one of the spectators says “let’s see what else is on” without any emotional response. Weir clearly states that television deprives a human of empathy and compassion.

The Truman Show by Peter Weir is a brilliant example of an intelligent and philosophic movie. The director created an unobtrusive work in a vintage style that everyone is free to understand and interpret on different levels. On the level of the plot, it provides an exciting story of a person who for thirty years was the star of the reality show without even knowing it. The character of Truman Burbank, as well as his adventures, causes sincere sympathy and desire to help. On the level of explicit ideas, the film contains a reflection about the importance of freedom of choices and decisions. Peter Weir outlines that while the path of changes is extremely complicated and frightening, the result of this process is absolutely worth all the effort. The inevitable conflict between parents and children represents the implicit content. According to the director, overparenting always has negative consequences. Finally, in cultural and historical context this movie outlines the destructive influence of television on social and ethical norms. At the same time, The Truman Show remains the masterpiece of world cinematography regardless of the interpretations.  


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