Truman Show – 1998 – Directed by Peter Weir – Written by Andrew Niccol
I probably first saw this movie at too young of an age, because I remember when I first saw it, it freaked me out. I can’t remember my exact age, (probably 10 or so) but I was paranoid for a week that everybody were actor playing characters in my life. Anyways, back to the movie..
This is a fantastic example of an engaging film. Right from the start the characters are strong (much of the credit given to Jim Carrey especially). The opening mirror scene tells us so much about what we are about to watch. First, that Truman is a playful and interesting character, and second, that we as an audience are being voyeuristic on his life. He is a born entertainer, whether he knows it or not, and this mirror scene establishes this perfectly – no dialogue or voiceover required.
There is no major event that triggers the events of this film other than Truman’s search for the truth, so you could say it is heavily experience-driven. Every scene is a puzzle piece that Truman himself seeks out. We know what the puzzle looks like, but somehow we keep watching to see Truman put it all together. The dialogue between Truman and the travel agent is a perfect example. Truman seeks this puzzle piece out by making a spontaneous decision to fly away. He already knows (thinks) he won’t be able to book a flight, we as an audience already know he won’t go anywhere too. All that is left is for the scene to happen, and that is the charm of the movie. We know the end of the conversation, but find it fascinating to watch it actually take place.
Truman’s back story is the one puzzle piece that Truman knows and we as an audience don’t know. It is the key to his discovery, his hidden motivation, and ultimately the one plot element we need to figure out for ourselves before the movie can end. The main flashback is the scene with Truman and Silvia (Lauren), where she tries to tell him secretly that he is living a lie. Hardly any dialogue can take place, so she uses her actions and props (the pin) to tell him. We need to interpret these signs simultaneously with Truman, since so much of Truman’s psychology is revealed in this event in time.
Overall, the movie follows a fairly basic three act structure. Truman (and his world) is established, the rising action is him gathering clues about his world being fake, and finally the climax is him crashing his boat into the fake sky, finally confirming to him that it is all a set up.