The Truman Show–nominated for three Academy Awards–marks this past June’s 25th anniversary by arriving on 4K Ultra HD.
Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey) is just an ordinary guy. However, his life put to the test when he discovers the world around him is not what it seems. Everything changes when his dead father suddenly comes back to life. That’s not the only thing. Fate has it out for the man because it is impossible to leave his hometown of Seahaven Island. And yet, there’s something about watching the film now compared to 1998. We’re consuming more media today than back in 1998. Not only this but film predates the current obsession with reality TV. I personally do not watch the genre but you do you. That doesn’t even begin to get me started on the amount of surveillance in this film. Mind you, this is a few years before the 9/11 tragedy would give way to the Patriot Act.
As Truman discovers the reality around him, the film shows how the audience responds. They’re laughing, crying, cheering, and even making bets on his actions. He knows nothing of this although Sylvia/Lauren Garland (Natascha McElhone) came the closest in dropping the bombshell news. Nor does Truman know that Christof (Ed Harris) is the creator behind the 24/7 TV series and calling all the shots. It’s not until after Truman’s attempt to leave the island that he actually leaves for real, leading to chaos everywhere. Please stand by for technical difficulties! Once they find him, they might as well accept that the show is coming to an end. You couldn’t direct, frame, or edit the final minutes any better than they already are. The choices being made help make it one of the best moments in the entire film.
Carrey’s portrayal of Truman Burbank would be a turning point in his career. It was a film that proved the actor could play comedy as well as drama. The actor brings a level of energy to the role that hardly any other actor could provide. Robin Williams might be the only other comic actor who could pull the role off with the same energy. Interestingly, Andrew Niccol’s screenplay was a sci-fi thriller in New York City. Once Peter Weir came on board to direct, it meant putting more comedy in the script. That’s one of the best decisions in the long-term. Not that I couldn’t imagine the film as a thriller but it works so much better in this comedy-drama space.
Watching the film now, there are moments where I’m laughing even more than my first viewing in 1998. I mean, you can really see how they manage to incorporate the product placement. When Truman encounters the twins, the poster behind them changes daily to promote a new product. At one point, Truman’s wife, Meryl (Laura Linney), is overheard reciting her lines for a commercial.
In the movie, the seaside island is a huge town underneath a huge dome in Los Angeles. A featurette on the visual effects really speaks to just how big the dome really is. Michael McAllister gets his cameo in the film mainly so that people could understand just how big the dome is. As for the storm sequence, they film at Universal’s Falls Lake rather than Paramount. There’s VFX work in the sequence because of the wall’s size while shooting. It speaks to just how much VFX work goes into a film even when one might think nothing of it at the time.
In the real world, production settled on Seaside, Florida for the majority of the shoot. Believe it or not but Truman’s home in the film is that of the Gaetz family. Yeah, that one. Outside of Florida, there are some scenes on the Paramount lot. Visually speaking, it’s amazing how many shots in the film appear as if we’re watching through a camera lens. It’s truly impressive that they are able to pull of some of the angles from which they’re shooting. Even though I would have gone with Saving Private Ryan‘s Janusz Kamiński, it astounds me that the Academy did not nominate Peter Bizou’s cinematography. The only Oscar nominations are for Director, Screenplay, and Supporting Actor (Ed Harris).
The Truman Show might feel like it’s from a different era but the film predates a cultural obsession with reality television while speaking to the dangers of surveillance in a satirical way.
- How’s It Going to End? The Making of The Truman Show – Two-Part Documentary
- Faux Finishing—The Visual Effects of The Truman Show
- Deleted Scenes
- Photo Gallery
- Theatrical Trailers
- TV Spots
DIRECTOR: Peter Weir
SCREENWRITER: Andrew Niccol
CAST: Jim Carrey, Laura Linney, Noah Emmerich, Natascha McElhone, Holland Taylor, Brian Delate, and Ed Harris
Paramount released The Truman Show in theaters on June 5, 1998. Grade: 4.5/5
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