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As conscious beings, people have been questioning the authenticity of reality since the very ancient times. It would first manifest in religion that provided that human life is entirely controlled by a kind of superpower, an ultimate being or group of beings capable of anything one can imagine. As the world began to develop rapidly in the 20th century and the society essentially went under the media control, the sense of religious omniscience was taken over by the similar sense for the media. The idea of reality questioning was then manifested in the 1998 film The Truman Show, which states that people should rather work hard on themselves to achieve a reality they want than to spend time questioning it.
The Truth is Not Real: If Life Was Fabricated
The Truman Show tells a story about a man named Truman Burbank, whose entire life was staged as a reality show that is broadcast to people around the world. Truman lives in a small island town and was forced to witness his father’s fake death in order to develop aquaphobia to never leave the town and find out the truth. The film explicitly provides that Truman’s life is a reality show created to entertain other people from the very beginning. The first scene of the movie is stylized as an opening sequence that includes interviews of the actors that play the citizens of the town Truman lives in (Weir). This choice was likely done by the script writer Andrew Niccol and director Peter Weir to show the audience the main idea of the film from the very start as well as provide food for thought for an entirety of the movie. A person not familiar with an idea of the film might start questioning their own reality right away, thus, becoming gradually intrigued about what the film has to offer.
The film gradually becomes more intense as the audience finds out more about Truman. He appears as a regular everyman, however, he also dreams of adventure and keeps a love interest in his former classmate from college despite being married to another woman. As Truman attempts to be more proactive rather than follow his regular routine, the production team of the reality show interferes in order to not let the stage break down. As such, when Truman pursues Lauren, his true love interest, she tries to tell him that everything he sees and knows is a lie, after which she is immediately taken out of the show. Truman later sees his seemingly deceased father in a homeless man on the street, who is also immediately taken away. In a conversation with his mother, she only brushes Truman’s suspicions off as hallucination (Weir). At this point, the film still attempts to convince the audience that a reality might be a fake and there is always someone who will ensure that regular people do not find out about this. This, however, leads to an important build-up of the film’s plot as well as its climatic point.
As Truman becomes almost entirely convinced that something goes wrong with his entire life, he makes a rather courageous move to find out the truth. He tricks the production team and its head Christof by pretending to come back to his daily routine and escapes one night. He overcomes his fear of the ocean and sets sail to find another land or to locate the source of the omniscient lie. Truman, however, genuinely wants to prove his conviction wrong and realizes that by finding out his life has always been a fake, he might make things even more complicated. However, in search for the truth and the reality, he goes against himself and leaves his comfort zone for good (Weir; Williams). This makes the main idea of the story entirely clear by the end of the film without rejecting the idea that was previously set up.
The reality might oftentimes feel comfortable, yet fake, creating a somewhat uncanny feeling that something is not right. While works of fiction such as The Truman Show do not exactly imply that people are necessarily controlled by somebody else, they do imply that people might sometimes lose control of their lives. Rather than being controlled by someone in particular, people are often controlled by circumstances and random chance, getting stuck in an uncomfortable situation for their entire existence. The lesson of such works as The Truman Show is that in order to break the fourth wall and make life what people want, they must work on themselves and get out of the comfort zone.
Weir, Peter. The Truman Show. Paramount Pictures, 1998.
Williams, Richard. "The Truman Show Review – Jim Carrey Is Impressive Deftly Satirical Comedy". The Guardian, 1998, https://www.theguardian.com/film/1998/oct/09/1.
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