#219: The Truman Show (1998)

When and how did I watch this?

September 30th, 2015, on a friend’s Plex account.

Had I seen this film already?

I’ve seen it several times, although I hadn’t seen it in about four years.  My DVD was lent out and forgotten about.

What did I know about the movie before watching it?

This is one of my all-time favorite movies.  I constantly refer to it, along with “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” as a case for why Jim Carrey should play serious roles more often.  Sure it has moments of hilarity in it, but it’s not your standard physical humor stuff.  It’s simply brilliant.  I’ve been looking forward to this entry since the beginning. I’ve seen it front to back, so the plot and many details were not new on me, but I intended to hyper-analyze it this time around.

What do I know about it now?

A couple of things grabbed my attention: the camera angles, and my emotional reaction now that I have kids.

I’ll start with the latter, and a bit of a spoiler: Truman begins on the show as a newborn, and he grows up on screen. We catch up to him at about thirty years old; he has a steady job, a great marriage, and lives in presumably the greatest place on the planet, yet there is a constant itch for him to explore and leave (something that’s addressed in the film several times).  What changed for me is imagining my own child being manipulated and restrained in the same way, the people lying to him constantly, all for others’ monetary gain. It brings up a multi-leveled philosophical discussion about who we are and what we live for (even to a deity level, personified by the “antagonist” Christof — yes, that’s probably a Christ reference), and I found myself moved multiple times from beginning to end because of my new outlook on this fabricated life. When he eventually finds his way out, I’m not shocked anymore, but I’m now incredibly relieved.

The camera angle thing is something I am noticing as I traverse through these films.  The “show” features thousands of cameras, many on items you wouldn’t suspect.  Near the beginning, I discovered even his wedding band is a camera, which opens up a disturbing level of symbolism regarding Truman’s life. Beyond that, I discovered that the “show” angles were ACTUALLY camera angles for the movie as a whole, all of which played a part in the artistic makeup of the film.  If you pay attention to what the real director (not Christof) is doing, you’ll find that particular perspectives are designed to draw you into the scene, not just as a gimmick for the sake of moving this insane plot along.

What are some themes in the film?

There are simply too many to list here. That’s not a cop-out; you could take this one anywhere.

Did this affect me personally?

Yes; I was surprised.

Why is this ranked #219?

Why isn’t it ranked higher?  Probably not enough violence, and there are many who probably haven’t seen it or really thought about what was going on and don’t like Jim Carrey because he acts like an idiot in 95% of his films, garnering a lower rating.  I mean, it’s not a bad rating, but it should be in the top 50 for what it does, and how prophetic much of it is.

Did my wife watch/like it?

This is also one of my wife’s favorite films. She pointed out she’s glad there isn’t a sequel.  It would’ve been the equivalent of what they did to The Matrix.  Yech.

Would I watch it again?

Yep!

Would I recommend it to a friend?

Have you seen it yet?  You probably haven’t; otherwise, this one would be higher in the rankings, duh.

Does it deserve to be on this list as one of the greatest films of all time?

Possibly one of the most underrated films of all time.