This film review contains Spoilers.
The Truman Show: One Hero’s Quest
This film review contains Spoilers.
The Truman Show (1998) was a remarkable movie. Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey) is a character on a TV show whose entire life — from birth through adolescence up to the present — has been watched by millions worldwide. Truman, however, is not aware that his world is an artificial one created specifically for the purposes of its director/producer Christof (Ed Harris).
The film is a story of Truman’s awakening and a story about life.
The movie can be taken on several levels and as entertainment it works as a story which itself has levels.
Christof as creator of Truman’s world … is godlike, attempting to create a Paradise for his “son”.
Truman is a “type” of ourselves, the existential human condition.
Truman is in a situation, inside the box, in his “world”, unaware initially of the outside world, of anything beyond. Because Truman is a being with consciousness, he gets “clues” that things are not what they seem. Events occur that indicate the way he originally perceived his life is different from the way it really is. Examples include:
· The studio light falling from the sky
· The character he falls in love
· The strange way his wife does “commercials”
· The re-appearance of his father
· The technical error when the car radio switches to set directions
Truman at one point remarks, “It feels like the whole world revolves around me somehow.”
The girl he meets (so briefly) and falls in love with is an archetype of those who are enlightened, who know that life is more than what we see, think, understand. She seeks to reach him, but he does not understand her words because of his frame of mind. He is trapped inside his mindset.
Ultimately, we are each like Truman. We grow up unaware and, as a consequence, passive about seeking freedom from our situation. Through chance events we become “awakened” and begin to notice the periodic clues that tell us that life is more than it appears to be. The result of this awakened consciousness is a decision to act.
From my 1985 Journal notes: “To understand the world we live in, we must first see it as it is, not as we are trained or manipulated to see it. Where do our ideas come from? Ideas about God, about right and wrong, about how we should live… Are they chosen? or…?”
It is interesting that while the world Truman inhabits is counterfeit, the emotions he feels are real. So with ourselves, we do not really perceive things as they really are, but the emotions we feel — our fears, hopes, anxieties — these are very real. In another sense we are also like the other players in Truman’s world:
Like the “extras” and bit part actors, we tend to get caught up in playing our roles, but not really concerned about the real situations of the persons around us.
Our lives can become all script, all “show.” In real life, we can be so busy with our “roles” that we do not consider others’ needs.
Truman’s “awakening” leads to a single overwhelming desire to obtain his freedom from this “world” that is his life. Perhaps on another level we are like Christof, manipulating all the sets, all the characters, for a “higher purpose”…. personal glory.
Christof sought ratings. He was a Mastermind. But in achieving this end he denigrated Truman’s humanity. All people in the show were his to manipulate. It was his right, he believed, and he was possibly even sincere in his love for Truman, who was a “son” to him.
At times we ourselves think we have a right to control everything. We each want to be Christof in our own sphere of influence. It is unsettling when one of the characters is unpredictable, doesn’t follow the script, does not cooperate with the “show.” Ultimately, this can lead to a crisis, and the relationships can change.
Christof offered Truman a safe, crime-free world, but Truman wanted something more valuable: his freedom.
When Truman began his quest he was not even aware of what it was he was escaping from, but he knew he must escape. Ultimately, he was seeking to escape from the Bubble, the Dome, his artificial world.
Like Truman we, too, must strive to escape in order to find our true selves and to see what life is all about. Like Truman, we have become immersed in a world of illusions, our own bubbles.
But the Quest cannot be successful without taking risks. Truman’s quest became an obsession. In order to escape he had to face his greatest fears, real fears. And it nearly cost him his life. But he found the door, a door he didn’t even know existed… and upon walking through to the other side he would find a new understanding as he left behind everything that was known and familiar to embrace the unknown. Little did he know that “she” was going to be there, waiting for him.
So, too, with each of us there are clues, if we would but observe them, that life is more than just the material, physical molecular world. The Bible contains clues. The “Grand Design” of nature presents us with manifold clues. Conscience is a clue. And deep within our hearts, there’s that “still, small voice.”
“In case I don’t see you…. Good afternoon, good evening, and good night.”