The Truman Show

The theme of paranoia is present throughout the entirety of 1998’s The Truman Show staring Jim Carrey.  The film centers around Truman Burbank, the first human being to live the entirety of his/her life on reality television. Yet, Truman is unaware of this fact. This is because he is filmed by thousands of hidden cameras while spending his life under a dome on the Hollywood hills, which has been carefully recreated with props and actors to look like a seaside New England town.  All of this is looked over by the show’s creator/producer Christof, a man so invested in the show’s success he is willing to go to any length to keep Truman from figuring out the truth.

In this particular scene Truman is just starting to figure out that his life may not be what he imagined.  This comes after he notices that his wife is crossing her fingers in a picture taken of their wedding ceremony. Truman questions his wife about what she is doing at work that day and, being unsatisfied with the answers, sets off to follow her.  This is when the sense of paranoia starts to creep in as director Peter Weir chooses to play short, fast paced music as a way to insert feelings of suspense and thrill over top of Truman’s actions.  The shots utilized also help to further this feeling of paranoia.  Throughout the sequence the camera depicts awkwardly close shots of Truman, in these instances Carrey takes care to depict the character looking from side to side worriedly or with quizzical facial expressions. In addition to this the film also takes shots of Truman and either blurs/blacks out the edges or show the ends of lens covers. This creates the feeling that Truman is being watched through hidden cameras, by us and by the viewers at home in the film.   Because the entirety of the town, as well as the viewers at home, are all in on this secret it adds to the sense of Truman’s loneliness and ultimately gives justification to his feelings of paranoia

In addition to this the film does create a sense of nostalgia, at least for me, for another time.  More specifically the fifties.  It does this aesthetically, through the clothes that the characters wear and the props used by them on a day-to-day basis.  In this way the film harkens back to Hollis Frampton’s (nostalgia) , there is a sequence in the movie where the film cuts rapidly through different images of chairs, and kitchenware, and clothes, and cars.  All of these things being up for sale on the Truman Show website proclaims the movie. Yet, the distinctive thing about these images is that each one is of an object most likely used during the fifties.  In this way nostalgia is formed around the objects that made up everyday life in another era.  Both (nostalgia)  and The Truman Show create this nostalgia by bringing forth memories associated with images of past events or items.  This can be seen when reading Frampton’s description of his images in On the Camera Arts and Consecutive Matters.  Reading that work shows us that Frampton creates his nostalgia through dialogue, where The Truman Show creates it purely through actors interaction with their setting.  Although Truman’s home is meant to be a depiction of a dystopian society it is hard to deny the appeal of the aesthetics in the film.

3 responses to “The Truman Show

  1. This movie is a perfect display of Paranoia. The whole movie he notices such peculiar events all around him. He knows everything is fake but does not no why. This scene is great, the music enhances the sense of paranoia. The movie is Truman’s journey through his paranoia, he paranoia takes him on this ride to discover the truth.

  2. My favorite Jim Carey movie! The awesome part is that there’s no question as to Truman being surveyed, as opposed to The Conversation, where we have to become paranoid in order to keep our guard up. In the case of the Truman Show, it allows us to sit back without any personal paranoia and enjoy the paranoia of Truman, while hoping for his escape, of course.

  3. Yeah I was thinking about doing this movie for paranoia too! It’s a really good comparison to The Conversation, the difference in a serious and humorous tone of the film in general but they both touch upon the theme of surveillance and paranoia and irony. The only difference is the Truman Show is not suspenseful as The Conversation. It just flat out reveals the fact that Jim Carrey’s the center of it all and there’s not as much twist in it, if you can call it that.

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