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The Truman Show

June 17, 2017

TTSPeter Weir sees himself first of all as a storyteller, not as a moviemaker. He believes that fiction “can give you a truth within its own set of lies.” He is a storyteller interested in life’s central issues-death, nature, friendship, freedom, spirit, and the like. His films are rooted in particular times and places, but they focus on fife’s fundamental concerns: ‘What then must we do?” How can we “seize the day”? Is there a reality beyond our surface existence?

This film ends with a declaration that there is something “out there” bigger than ourselves; it doesn’t make explicit just what that something is

God and Satan

The shadow side of religion, abuse is there. The Truman Show imagines the darker implications of Psalm 139 (when it is claimed that God watches our every move) as the main character realizes he is a pawn in a mammoth game, watched over by one man, whose distorted “love” for the character has led him to keep him prisoner. This is what life would be like if God hated us

To me, it was a twisted perversion of what Psalm 139 says about how we are known completely to God and all our days are known to Him before one of them came to be. The man in control of Truman’s life certainly had set himself up as God. The end of the movie seemed to leave the message that this is the way God really is playing games with our lives. Dennis Nelson

I definitely saw the Christof character as a Satan figure …..He created a false world for Truman. He tried to keep him away from God by giving him everything but God. He whispered his lies into the ears of his people to hold Truman. He admitted that if Truman really wanted to find the truth and it was more than just a whim no one could stop him, therefore he admits Truman’s world is a lie. Jesus tells us He is the truth and the light and to not be afraid. Christof lies, and builds fear. I believe he even goes as far as to call his false world Hell by saying ‘Well say something, this is G*D DAMNED television.”

….Christof took what was already created and tried to play at being God. Truman’s community was never the Garden of Eden because he never had free will…

…the scriptwriter creates an evil creator Christof (of Christ, else why not the standard “Christoff’) who cruelly manipulates Truman (true man). Yes, Truman Burbank is the only real man in a world of phonies, but he can ultimately confirm his reality only if he rebels against his “Creator.”  John H., age 45

Frankly, I find the alarmist cries of calling “The Truman Show anti-religious to be unfounded and unprovable. It is a movie about a person whose life has been controlled by a greedy control freak. Christof is the symbol of Satan and our culture’s lust for all the dirt in someone’s life. Christof much like Satan tried to deceive Truman into staying in his little psuedo-world by telling him that the only truth was in that pseudo-world. Truman only wanted someone to REALLY love him, and he didn’t get that in the pseudo-world. JH, 17

Human beings

 The true man (authentic) will gain his freedom by forsaking this evil “creator” (and evil he is). This is the existentialism of a Nietsche, Sartre or Camus. Listen to the dialogue, particularly at the very end when the movie makes its statement. 9 created you,” says Christof. ‘You are the star.”‘ You do not need to be afraid.” Note the stairway to heaven which allows Truman to escape Note the darkness into which he enters when he escapes! Note Sylvia’s prayer when she is watching Truman decide whether or not to leave. Note how the movie encourages you to rejoice in Truman’s liberation from this creator. Finally, note how the movie taps into your own rebellious inclinations. Mark R. Quanstrom

I also saw Sylvia as a prayer intercessor. She wanted to bring him truth, love and freedom and during his moment of truth while facing Christof she is shown with her hands clasped saying “Oh God please”.  Ben Stroud, age 37

Indirectly, it portrays the naive faith of believers who keep their immature faith under the guise of childlike innocent faith, staying safe as actors in the (domed) “Christian” world, instead of embarking on the adventure of the real world of interacting with unbelievers, and being salt & light into the world, and discovering the fellowship of suffering with Christ. The movie motif for me: conquering fear with faith. DJ Chuang, age 31

……also disguised stories about birth, the mind, families, and mythic gods. Thus, in addition to depicting people breaking free from oppressive social systems, the characters are also disguised depictions of babies being born from the fake paradises of hightech wombs into the world. At the same time, they depict a mind breaking free from neurosis and children breaking fire from smothering and controlling parents. And they are re-creations of ancient myths that tell stories about heroes who try to free themselves from oppressive supernatural beings.

The character’s effort to break through the social control is an essential element of the story.

Birth: The Truman Show offers a disguised depiction of a baby being born and of the stages of birth. Truman begins in an idyllic womb-like paradise of safety and comfort in which he is at one with his world and accepts everything as given. Then there is a disruption caused by his recognition that he is being watched, and there is a difficult birth as he braves a storm at sea, is tossed around and almost drowns. At the end, in a more peaceful scene that combines images of birth and death, he reaches the open door that will lead him into the world. His creator tells him it is safe inside but he has the urge to genuinely live. He rejects the fake heaven of his high-tech womb, in order to be born, so he will have a chance at an authentic, although a more difficult, life.

Mind: The Truman Show is a disguised depiction of the mind of a man lost in a false personality of illusory happiness. His mind is kept in this state by an internalised, controlling image of a father who wants to stop him from achieving maturity. When Truman stumbles on the backstage area in the movie, that is a depiction of the mind perceiving a part of the unconscious where this defensive false self is generated. When the security guards then drag Truman away, that is the forces of psychological defence barring the mind from perceiving the forbidden territory of the unconscious.

The fear of water that is instilled in Truman, keeping him trapped on the island and away from the world outside, is the neurosis of agoraphobia that keeps this person locked in a false self. When he tries to grow into a fuller person with a real life, he comes up against the barrier of more defences in the form of fire, the supposed radiation-leak and the people (shown below) who block him, catch him and take him back to his fake world. But he suffers through his fears and breaks through.

In the end, Truman is beckoned forward not merely by the prospect of a more genuine life but also by the memory of a woman who, in his youth, revealed to him that he is trapped in a TV show, before they took her away. Thus, the internalised image of the controlling, threatening father keeps him from linking up with a woman in what would presumably be a genuine marriage. The other woman who plays the role of his mother, and who tries to keep Truman there, as well, is the internalised image of a mother, who similarly is trying to keep him from growing out of childhood.

Family: The Truman Show is also a depiction of a family in which the kind of dynamics described above are instilled in a child. Here, the society he lives in is his family. The actress playing his mother is just that, his mother. And the director-producer is his controlling father. They try to keep him from growing up and leaving the false happiness of a controlled family. Ultimately, his journey from this sanitised, happy-face world into the unknown larger world, where he will find a genuine love, is his effort to grow up, in the face of their opposition.

This domain of meaning also contains a fantasy, long written about by psychoanalysis, in which people tell themselves  “These are not my parents. I come from a better place and better people than this. But that fact is being hidden from me.” In the movie, that is precisely what Truman discovers about himself.

The Truman Show is a re-creation of myths, depicting a man imprisoned in the nest of a fake paradise or heaven by a manipulative god. At the end, after Truman comes up against the enclosing wall and finds the door to the outside, the producer speaks to him in a voice from above and tries to instil fear in him, to keep him under control. It is an interesting ironic touch that as Truman goes up the steps to reach the door, just before the producer speaks to him, he is in a heaven-like setting. As noted, he rejects this false paradise and chooses to exile himself into the mundane world that is his natural home. He travels from fantastic and fabulous — nature to true nature.

He is Adam, who escapes from a false paradise and falls by choice into nature and history, and he is Christ who knows of a higher world and is crucified on the boat as a result.

A number of people have mentioned that Truman is composed of the words “true man”. He is a true man who will mature into adulthood and have a genuine relationship with a woman. He is- a true man in the sense that is brave. And he is the true man in the sense that he is the archetypal man for our age, who stands up to the false God and illusions of the media manipulators and develops the potential for an authentic life. Christof is God crucifying his only son, who is resurrected at the end.

Society and Culture: Finally, the movie uses this mythological raw material to tell a new myth about contemporary America and the connection between invented substitutes for reality and the misuse of power. This new myth takes a number of elements of our current media landscape and mixes them together to convey its meaning. In part, it plays on the way we increasingly find ourselves watching staged events and theatrical illusions on television, even when we are viewing news, politics, advertising and public affairs. But in place of showing us an audience like ourselves that is being tricked, it cleverly turns the star of the show into the victim of the fraud,

 The media

 It also plays on the way news and so-called reality programming turns real people into the unwilling stars of melodramas for audience entertainment. But, once again, the movie cleverly mixes things up so that, unlike the real people who knowingly get trapped in fictions, it shows us a character who has no idea he is a character in a media invention.

 Voyeurdom.com is making over $300,000 yearly by broadcasting images from a “dorm” house where six female college students live. As with Truman Burbank, in every room there are webcams-cameras that post continuous pictures on Web pages-that show the coeds as they live together. Voyeuristic internet viewers pay $35 monthly to see the women taking showers, studying, eating, talking on the telephone, and so on. There is no privacy. The city council is arguing that “voyeurdorm.com” is an “adult” business in a residential section that is a violation of zoning codes. But the real issue is certainly much deeper than zoning codes or even the morality of adult entertainment. As in The Truman Show, we are being asked whether we can reduce human life to a sideshow. Is there not a sanctity, even a sacredness, to life that is somehow being violated?

Webcam, sites are cropping up at campuses across the country. At Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, the web site of sophomore Jim Crone got so many hits one night in the winter of 1999 that it crashed the campus computer system. Webdorm.com is supported by advertising and features students from around the United States. Have we voyeuristically turned our fellow human beings into “virtual reality”? If so, can we be far behind? The title of Neal Gabler’s book Life the Movie: How Entertainment Conquered Reality has been brought to life.

 Plot

As he tells his story on the screen, Weir is less concerned with the power of his plots than with the reality under their surface. Weir wants to give back to

the lady at the box office her sense of wonder. The       mysterious confronts the individual, for which the typical, rational patterns of understanding prove ineffective. The otherness that is encountered is not sinister, although it is often perceived as a threat to civilization. Instead, This clash of cultures provides an opportunity for a character’s personal growth.

Character

Weir’s characters are typically newcomers from an outside world who

encounter a new culture and struggle to understand it. They are firmly planted in the rational world. They are lawyers, reporters, teachers, policemen, and social activists, who encounter something alien. in the process they are offered the opportunity for human growth. In The Truman Show, Truman is unaware that his culture is alien, while still longing for another.

Christof: We’ve become bored with watching actors give us phony emotions. We are tired of pyrotechnics and special effects. While the world he inhabits is, in some respects, counterfeit, there’s nothing fake about Truman himself.

Mike Michaelson: The Hague for Christof. Hello? The Hague? All right, we’ve lost that call, let’s go to Hollywood, California. You’re on Trutalk.

Sylvia: Hi, Christof, I’d just like to say one thing, you’re a liar and a manipulator and what you’ve done to Truman is sick!

Christof: Well. We remember this voice, don’t we? How could we forget?

Mike Michaelson: Uh, let’s go to another call, what do we have…

Christof: No. No, no, no, no, no, it’s fine, it’s fine, Mike. I love to reminisce with former members of the cast. Sylvia, as you announced so melodramatically to the world, do you think because you batted your eyes at Truman once, flirted with him, stole a few minutes of airtime with him to thrust yourself and your politics into the limelight, that you know him? That you know what’s right for him? You really think you’re in a position to judge him?

Sylvia: What right do you have to take a baby and turn his life into some kind of mockery? Don’t you ever feel guilty?

Christof: I have given Truman the chance to lead a normal life. The world, the place you live in, is the sick place. Seahaven is the way the world should be.

Sylvia: He’s not a performer, he’s a prisoner. Look at him, look at what you’ve done to him!

Christof: He could leave at any time. If his was more than just a vague ambition, if he was absolutely determined to discover the truth, there’s no way we could prevent him. I think what distresses you, really, caller, is that ultimately Truman prefers his cell, as you call it.

Sylvia: Well, that’s where you’re wrong. You’re so wrong! And he’ll prove you wrong!

Marlon:  Fiji? Where’s Fiji? In Florida?

Truman:  (pointing to golf ball See here? This is us… [rotates golf ball] and this is Fiji. You can’t get any further away before you start coming back.

Christof: Cue the sun!

Truman Burbank Good morning! And in case 1 don’t see you: good afternoon. good evening and good night!

Christof We accept the reality with which we’re presented.

Sylvia: Look at what you’ve done to him! Christof. I have given Truman the chance to lead a normal life. The world, the place you live in, is the sick place.

Christof  Listen to me, Truman. You can leave if you want, 1 won’t try to stop you. But you won’t survive out there. You don’t know, what to do, where to go.

Truman: 1 have a map.

Christof. Truman, I’ve watched you your whole life, 1 saw you taking your fist step, your first word, your first kiss. 1 know .you better than you know yourself You are not going to walk, out that door.

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