How prophetic it was. When The Truman Show was released in 1997, the world was certainly a place where celebrity journalism and digital fame existed, but definitely not at the level it’s at today. Then it was largely delegated to newspaper tabloids, People Magazine and a scattering of other magazines. In the post-Truman Show world, if you can make your flatulence light of fire and it’s caught on camera you can likely get a million viewers and then a guest spot being a red carpet interviewer for a daytime talk show. Following that, you’re fielding calls from agents and calling the moving company to get a quote on a cross-country move to Los Angeles.
Television is dominated by reality shows, some of which are glorified game shows and others are creations of some strange pseudo-contrived reality inhabited by D-list celebrities and wannabe D-list celebrities. For the duration of the show, these people become water cooler names, known informally by their first name or the stereotype they embrace. But once it’s over and the prize has been handed out, they often fade back into obscurity only to resurface if they get a spot on another reality show taking on the “former reality star” contestant stereotype.
Maintaining the spotlight was the vision of the fictional “Truman Show.” Film a man for 24-hours-a-day for his entire life and you’ve got the ultimate documentary. The only catch: it’s in a contrived environment inhabited entirely by actors except for the star – Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey) – who isn’t in on the joke. His every move and turning point in life is manipulated by the God-like Christof (Ed Harris) who orchestrates Truman’s insular world from a control room.
However, Truman starts changing the script after a light for the show falls from the “sky” and he starts to suspect something is up. Once he starts to open his eyes and ask questions, the curtain really starts to be raised and all heck breaks loose as Truman makes a break from his father that controls him from on high.
Just as the viewing audience portrayed in the movie are glued to Truman, it’s hard not to be sucked in by the film. It entertains and makes you think at the same time. All the same, it’s not all snobby and above most people’s heads. Considering its relatively short 100-minute running time, director Peter Weir packs a lot into The Truman Show. It’s an apt comedy, excellent drama, religious allegory and contemporary commentary all wrapped into one easy to understand and accessible film. It really can be taken at whatever level someone wants to.
Prior to The Truman Show, Jim Carrey was largely regarded for his rubbery face and outrageous, albeit juvenille, humour. Here Carrey shows that he isn’t just a great showman, but an excellent actor with plenty of charm to go alongside the creepy laughs and snotty handshakes he passed around in the likes of Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and Dumb and Dumber.
Given its combination of depth, commentary, vision and pure entertainment value, I believe that The Truman Show is one of the better films in the last 15 years. I know it’s had a lasting impression on me and the issues it tackles are just as relevant now (if not more so) than they were when the film was first released theatrically back in 1997.
The Truman Show Blu-ray Review
The Truman Show Blu-ray release comes with an excellent 1080p high definition widescreen transfer that is crisp, clear and very easy on the eyes. The English audio track is in 5.1 Dolby TrueHD with added dubbed tracks in 5.1 Dolby Digital French and Spanish. Subtitles are in the same three languages as well as Portuguese.
Leading the bonus features is a two-part, more than 40-minute making-of featurette called “How’s It Going to End?” that goes extensively into the inner workings of the production. “Faux Finishing: The Visual Effects of The Truman Show” explores the subtleties used to enhance the film’s aesthetics. Other features include four deleted scenes, a photo gallery, two theatrical trailers and two television spots. Only the theatrical trailers are done in high definition. The rest are offered in standard definition.
The Truman Show Gallery