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The Truman Show

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The Truman Show
Directed by Peter Weir
Produced by Edward S. Feldman,
Scott Rudin,
Andrew Niccol,
Adam Schroeder
Written by Andrew Niccol
Starring Jim Carrey
Laura Linney
Ed Harris
Noah Emmerich
Natascha McElhone
Music by Burkhard Dallwitz,
Philip Glass
Editing by William Anderson
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date(s) June 5, 1998
Running time 103 min.
Language English
Budget $60,000,000

The Truman Show is a 1998 comedy film directed by Peter Weir, written by Andrew Niccol, and starring Jim Carrey and Ed Harris. An exposition on freedom, free will and the human desire to experience these states even at the sacrifice of security, the film chronicles the life of a man who does not know that his entire life is a constructed reality soap opera, televised 24-hour to millions across the globe. The plot takes many ideas from Philip K. Dick's 1959 novel Time Out of Joint, as well as the 1960 Twilight Zone episode A World of Difference, and the 1968 feature The Secret Cinema (later remade as an Amazing Stories episode in 1986). Fans of the cult British 1960s television series The Prisoner have also noted a number of similarities.


Spoiler warning: The following contains plot details about
the entire movie.

Truman Burbank began life by being the chosen one of five unwanted babies to be the star of a documentary of the first year of life of a child. But the program became so popular that it expanded into a continuously running reality television program. Contained within a completely artificial town called Seahaven, itself contained within a gigantic dome, Truman grows up as the only person in the town unaware that he lives in an almost solipsistic constructed reality for the entertainment of those outside. His friends and family fake friendship with Truman and, in the case of his wife, bury their real feelings of disgust. In the case of his lifelong best friend, Marlon has been on the show since he was 7 years old.

The movie picks up on Day 10,909 of Truman's life. It starts in the style of a television program, with opening credits and interviews of three main characters: Christof (the program's creator), Meryl (Truman Burbank's wife), and Marlon (Truman's best friend). Throughout the film, footage of Truman is interspersed with scenes of people in the real world watching The Truman Channel. The movie depicts many instances of Truman's need for safety and security — his job as a life insurance agent, his fear of water and sailing, his avoidance of flying. However, throughout his life, Truman has also indicated a conflicting wish to "explore the world," to travel, and to leave Seahaven. Attempts to keep him on the island (and thus unable to discover the truth of his TV-show existence) include the staged drowning death of his "father", the use of an intimidating and threatening dog in his path while attempting to explore the island, and others' explicit discouragement of his wishes to "be an explorer." Also, the general media consistently presents the good points of staying home.

Despite the producers' wishes, Truman makes several choices that confound their efforts to control him and his world. He falls in love with a movie extra named "Lauren," whose real name is Sylvia. She is subsequently whisked away by the TV producers when she tries to tell him the truth about the show. Truman is told that she and her family are moving to Fiji, thus provoking a lifelong wish in Truman to travel to Fiji and find her. 

He encounters a man in the street whom he recognizes to be his "dead" father, setting off an emotional crisis for Truman and his growing sense that he is the center of the world (which, in fact, he is). His friends and family focus their efforts to control his growing unrest and questions about his life. Truman begins to piece events together that increasingly indicate to him that there is some kind of plot involving his entire life, though he is unable to verbalize what exactly it is. He begins to suspect "everyone's in on it." He notices that a travel agent has only anti-travel messages on its posters. He spots his wife crossing her fingers in a wedding photograph and notices that she is constantly showing up with great new items. After an argument and a struggle, she declares, sobbing, that she "can't work under these conditions, it's not professional!" and leaves him (and the show).

His friend Marlon, being coached by the TV producer through an earpiece, insists on his loyalty and honesty, claiming "you're the closest thing I have to a brother" and, ironically, "the last thing I would ever do is lie to you." He then brings forward Truman's "father" in a moving reintroduction scene. A TV interview with the show's producer Christof reveals that Truman was in fact adopted at birth by the television corporation and raised in a constructed stage set built as the entire town in which he lives. He reveals that everyone Truman encounters - friends, family, acquaintances, and bystanders - are in fact actors employed by The Truman Show producers.

Christof acknowledges that he has orchestrated Truman's entire life. Despite his wife leaving, he still intends for him to father a baby with a new love; "the first on-air conception." This way the program can branch out onto a second channel. Sickeningly, this would create another prisoner within Christof's world. He states that the reason Truman has never discovered the truth is simple: "We accept the world with which we're presented." He declares arrogantly that Truman simply does not want to discover the truth; that he prefers his "prison cell" and will never leave. As if to prove this, back in the program, Truman appears to be back to normal.

But while Truman pretends to be asleep, he sneaks away from his home and goes sailing to escape Seahaven, despite his fear of the open sea. All of the cast members are called out for an emergency search to find Truman and to help the search, Christof orders the sun to rise three hours early and light the set. They discover Truman is escaping by boat. Christof creates a major storm to drive him back. Some of his co-workers protest that they can't kill Truman on live television, but Christof, convinced that he has complete control over Truman, says "He was born on live television."

However, Truman survives the storm and continues to sail until he hits a wall painted like the sky, the edge of the show's set. Truman follows the wall until he discovers a door labeled exit. He opens the door, but before he leaves Christof talks to him through a loudspeaker in a last effort to make him stay. He shows a god-like compassion for Truman, telling him that he's watched him all his life, "There is no more truth out there, than there is in the world I created for you," says Christof. After Christof is through talking to Truman, Truman says his famous line, "In case I don't see ya... good afternoon, good evening, and good night!", bows, then walks out the door. Sylvia rushes to the studio, ostensibly to meet him for the first time as a free man. In the real world, it is shown that maybe the show isn't as important to people as Christof believed, as people just turn over to another channel.



Niccol was due to direct the film until Carrey was signed. It was felt that Carrey's $12 million salary was too great an investment to leave in the hands of a second-time film director, and Weir was drafted. In October, 2002, Peter Weir revealed that real life prototype for Truman is entertainer Michael Jackson: "You watch The Truman Show and, I mean, Jim Carrey did a fantastic job, but Michael Jackson is Truman. He's who I based him on and he is the nearest thing to Truman."[1]

Exterior shots of the town of Seahaven were filmed in Seaside, Florida, a master-planned community located in the Florida Panhandle. Members of the cast and crew lived in Seaside during filming.[2]


Philip Glass appears very briefly in the film as one of the in-studio composer/performers. The soundtrack for the scenes of freedom contain excerpts from his scores for Powaqqatsi and Anima Mundi, as well as some music composed specifically for The Truman Show. Glass shared a Golden Globe Award with Burkhard Dallwitz for the score.

The film also contains a Frédéric Chopin composition, 2nd Movement from Piano Concerto No. 1 in E, Op.11: Romance-Larghetto, which was performed by pianist Artur Rubinstein, and snatches of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Rondo alla Turca and Horn Concerto No. 1 in D Major.


The Truman Show was nominated for three Oscars (original screenplay, achievement in directing, and best supporting actor: Ed Harris) and six Golden Globes. It won three Golden Globes.

The film won the 1999 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation.

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

Wikiquote has a collection of quotations from or about:


  1. "Weir on Jackson", Popdirt. Retrieved on 2007-05-07. 
  2. Eric Young (Executive Producer). "How's It Going To End? The Making of The Truman Show, Part II" [DVD (Special Feature)]. Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment.

Template:Peter Weir Films

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