Movie Review: The Truman Show (1998)

Precursor to modern reality shows, mainly speaks to Bigger Picture idea

TrumanAs I was putting together plans for a novel having a ‘Truman Show‘ type of controlled reality and mind control, I realized I had not seen the actual movie for several years. It’s a good one. IMDb gives it an incredibly high 8.1, which truly baffles me… because I don’t sense that that many people see the depth of the philosophical-political issues the movie conveys. No, I’m not saying people are shallow, but I guess I am saying that today the vast majority of people—The Truman Show’s rating is from more that 500,000 viewers—don’t get the essence of the New World Order (NWO). Because if they did they would be doing a lot more to put the kabosh on that jessie.

Sadly, it appears that the high rating of this movie stems from it serving voyeuristic proclivities, not social-commentary ones. Sigh. But times change… and Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey) may come to represent a heroic figure and inspiration for humanity as it breaks free of the NWO. What can be more apt? Ordinary fellow comes to realize that he’s in a giant fish bowl, and being manipulated by actors playing his friends, family, business associates, and so on.

As I said, Truman anticipates the reality shows that began in earnest (on American TV) with the Survivor series in 2000. But it’s so much more than they are. After all, what is the point of Survivor or Fear Factor or The Amazing Race or Big Brother except to display what real people do in wholly contrived or else in totally routine day-to-day circumstances—which for me anyway has always produced a big yawn factor. Nor am I alone. Remember the Jerry Springer Show? I guess it’s still going; in its heyday people would talk about it, and a LOT of people swore by it. Loved it. Made a lot of money for some. And don’t get me started on so-called ultimate fighting.

Who is it that said nobody has ever gone broke underestimating the tastes of the American people? Sorry to be such a snob. But I so hope The Truman Show does not become known solely as the harbinger of reality TV. The central idea of Truman is what’s important, namely ultimate control and manipulation of individual human beings for profit and entertainment purposes—using the most comprehensive deception imaginable.

This manipulated world concept is interesting to speculate upon for reasons that should be fairly clear, that is if you believe the mainstream media is rather like the government it shields: it’s not there to protect or inform you, or to serve you in any way: it’s purpose is to enslave and to kill you… at least you, as independent freestanding human being. A large number of our fellows remain—unlike Truman—perpetually mindless of being tricked into an artificial life.

A few caveats on the story development: 1) I did not get a sense of what it is exactly that starts Truman wondering whether something is amiss in his world. Yes he has this desire from childhood to visit Fiji, but he’s accepted for two decades that he’s not going; I didn’t see the specific action or entity that started his logical connection between ‘failure to go to Fiji’ and ‘something drastically wrong with his world.’ 2) Same sort of disconnection for the ‘girl he truly loves’ (played by Natascha McElhone). In the sequence of events in the movie the relationship just sort of fades in and out for no clear reason. At least I didn’t see the connection between the fantasy girl, his too-quick understanding of the big picture, and his urge to break out.

Be sure to check out the Special Features, and the ‘making of’ the movie. Truly some exceptional writing, directing, and acting talent. Also of course the sets. Remember this is still in the late 1990s, and we have almost a generation of improvement in the technology of set design and illusion creation. Definitely ahead of its time.

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