Discussion of movies and ReelThoughts topics

It is currently Wed Jul 30, 2014 7:53 pm




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 26 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next
Undersung Great Movie: The Truman Show (1998) 
Author Message
Critic
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jul 29, 2009 9:35 am
Posts: 7279
Location: Easton, MD
Post Undersung Great Movie: The Truman Show (1998)
When I first saw this movie I thought it was gimmicky and fun, but didn't think much about it for the next 10 years. Then my little brother got it for me on DVD--I thought it was a particularly uninspired piece of giftgiving at the time--and I grudgingly rewatched it...


...and holy shit it's a great film. It's a goddamn modern classic. It presages Reality TV with eerie precision (quoth one of the actors on the 'show': "Nothing is fake, it's just controlled") but that's just the icing on the cake. The reason I think it's so good is because it's the absolute best kind of existentialism: deep but incredibly enjoyable. It doesn't just take a nifty premise and make a good movie, it takes a nifty premise and uses it to explore the human condition. It's a movie about a man who's trying to figure out who he is and what the world is, and he's willing to die (and almost does) to find the truth. And then comes the kicker--he DOES find out, he gets to talk to God...and then he walks out into an entirely new world, with new mysteries to unlock.

And that's to say nothing about the terrific, vibrant direction from Peter Weir, the beautiful score, and the incredibly likability projected by Jim Carrey, never better served than here.

If you think I'm overpraising the movie, I understand--I was there too, once, after all--but you should watch it again. Just give it a chance.

_________________
I'm lithe and fierce as a tiger


Mon Feb 13, 2012 8:11 pm
Profile
Post Re: Undersung Great Movie: The Truman Show (1998)
I have to admit...I started to get angrier and angrier reading your post. Until the very end I thought it was a sarcastic joke or something.

I was getting angry because like you I rewatched this movie probably 2 years ago when I was bored and realized I owned the DVD but had never actually taken the plastic off of it...AND I FREAKEN LOVED IT!

I would go into detail but you already covered everything far better than I could put into words.


Mon Feb 13, 2012 8:22 pm
Post Re: Undersung Great Movie: The Truman Show (1998)
+(1,000,000*1,000,000*1,000,000)(millionbillionkashpillion)

The sublime Truman Show is an undersung great movie and an effective piece of modern horror. Spectacular.


Mon Feb 13, 2012 8:51 pm
Post Re: Undersung Great Movie: The Truman Show (1998)
The Truman Show, like The Matrix, functions as a modern retelling of Plato's Cave. Therefore it is Awesome by default.
-Jeremy


Mon Feb 13, 2012 10:30 pm
Post Re: Undersung Great Movie: The Truman Show (1998)
I agree with this; Truman show is a great movie. My only question is, did his wife ever have sex with him?


Mon Feb 13, 2012 10:46 pm
Post Re: Undersung Great Movie: The Truman Show (1998)
This is a fantastic movie that needs to be rewatched at least once every few years. It succeeds globally and in the small details, and at every level in between. There's tons of humor just in the ways that they work the artificial machinations of TV storytelling into Truman's in-universe life.

I don't know if it's a good habit to praise fiction for prefiguring developments in culture and technology, though. There's a lot of confirmation bias involved. I think it's more a matter of being in tune with the problems of the moment. The Truman Show wasn't predicting reality TV, so much as tapping into the same cultural mood/anxieties/whatever that reality TV ended up tapping into in a much less clever way.

Satirists play up the problems of the world in humorous ways. Those problems sometimes get worse until they match or exceed the dramatic exaggerations--hence, the appearance of prescience. Just as Orwell was writing about post-war Britain in 1984, The Truman Show was about the time that it was made.

And what a wonderful performance by Jim Carrey.


Tue Feb 14, 2012 2:56 am
Post Re: Undersung Great Movie: The Truman Show (1998)
There was reality TV before this film came out(Real World started in 93), it just became more prominent once Survivor was a huge hit. But you're right, it is pretty damn eerie how accurate the film is in that department.


Tue Feb 14, 2012 3:09 am
Post Re: Undersung Great Movie: The Truman Show (1998)
One of the most memorable film-going experiences from my childhood was seeing The Truman Show for the first time in 1998. I went with a friend who I lost touch with some time ago. It was the first of a double feature at a drive-in movie theater. Do drive-ins even exist anymore? I'd like to think that somewhere somebody is lying down in the back of an old Ford, watching a movie under the night sky. Anyway, I don't remember what the other film was, because my 10 year-old mind was blown away by Peter Weir's film. I'd say I've seen it around a dozen times since that first time, and after every viewing it still finds new ways to delight and inspire.

Why is it so great? Is it because Jim Carrey's performance ranks alongside Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind as his very finest? Is it because Peter Weir has never been in such fine form, employing countless unique and creative directorial touches, many of which I only caught several viewings in? Is it the standout supporting cast, with Ed Harris, Laura Linney, Noah Emmerich, Natascha McElhone, and a then-unknown Paul Giamatti all in great form? Is it the themes, still relevant after all these years?

Shit, it's all of these things and more. And it works amazingly on so many different levels. It can masterfully blend horror and dark comedy, like when Truman first attempts to escape, only to be thwarted by a potential nuclear disaster, or when Laura Linney cuts in on a serious conversation to advertise cocoa. It can create great suspense, as Truman risks his life out on the ocean. It can tug at the heartstrings, like when Truman loses his first love and doesn't understand why, or when he has his conversation with the appropriately-named Christof. It can definitely make you cry; Truman's final line gets me every time.

If I were to make a list of my Top 5 favorite films from the 1990s, I wouldn't be surprised if The Truman Show ended up at the very top. It's been awhile since I've seen it last; I'll be watching it again sometime in the next 24 hours.


Tue Feb 14, 2012 3:52 am
Producer
User avatar

Joined: Tue Jun 28, 2011 9:04 am
Posts: 2387
Location: Lancashire, England.
Post Re: Undersung Great Movie: The Truman Show (1998)
I have to agree with the opinion that Carey is hugely underrated as a serious actor. I wonder if he'd have been more successful had he not stereotyped himself in the 90s.

The Truman Show is a very good film. Probably a bit too cerebral for the mainstream audience it was marketted at - asking what freedom really is in an overly-commercialised age.

_________________
... because I'm a wild animal


Tue Feb 14, 2012 4:36 am
Profile
Post Re: Undersung Great Movie: The Truman Show (1998)
I'm not even going to try to play the devil's advocate - The Truman Show is one of the few films of the past 20 years, which I consider to be masterpieces. I think that its most formidable strength is that it is quite a deep and dark film while also working perfectly fine as comedic entertainment on a surface level. I'm yet to meet someone who doesn't like this movie.

In light of Berardinelli's latest reelthoughts, try not to weep when looking at the Academy Award winners of that year: No nomination for The Truman Show for Best Picture (winner: Shakepeare in Love!) or of Jim Carey for Best Actor (Winner: Roberto Benigni for Life is Beautiful!!) and Andrew Niccol's screenplay got beaten by Shakespeare in Love for Best Original Screenplay!!!


Tue Feb 14, 2012 5:53 am
Post Re: Undersung Great Movie: The Truman Show (1998)
Of course The Truman Show is unique among "fabricated reality" movies since the title character ist the only one not in on it. Everyone else is. I see it more of a commentary on the human condition than a prediction of reality tv (where everyone is in on it) or even a philosophical question of what is reality.

I love the early 60s Norman Rockwell feel of Truman's world. That alone is a great commentary.

I just have one small problem with the movie: The ultra complex logistics are way too simplified. Painted-on static clouds? What about maintenance? The whole set is still in pristine condition after 30 years. How? The moon is static? How exactly are the weather conditions emulated? How to maintain the salty seawater? What about the extras? Where and when do they enter and exit the sets? Where do they live when they are not "on air"? The filmmakers probably asked themselves the same questions, and shifted the "explanations" to what might be possible (such as miniature surveillance cameras) and the behind the scenes stuff is limited to director, producer and crew.

I don't need everything explained, especially because too much ofit would get us out of Truman's world for too long, but I would have loved just a few glimpses of, say, close calls with a maintenance crew. I say that because the movie clearly has no sci fi vibe to it. This is all supposed to be 100% real, the present, and "explainable". So much for my suspension of disbelieve....

BTW: loved the scene with the film music composer playing a cue live with his gear and sound engineer.

Anyway: great movie - and another example of how much of an underused actor Ed Harris is.


Tue Feb 14, 2012 8:38 am
Post Re: Undersung Great Movie: The Truman Show (1998)
Threeperf35 wrote:
I just have one small problem with the movie: The ultra complex logistics are way too simplified. Painted-on static clouds? What about maintenance? The whole set is still in pristine condition after 30 years. How? The moon is static? How exactly are the weather conditions emulated? How to maintain the salty seawater? What about the extras? Where and when do they enter and exit the sets? Where do they live when they are not "on air"? The filmmakers probably asked themselves the same questions, and shifted the "explanations" to what might be possible (such as miniature surveillance cameras) and the behind the scenes stuff is limited to director, producer and crew.

I don't need everything explained, especially because too much ofit would get us out of Truman's world for too long, but I would have loved just a few glimpses of, say, close calls with a maintenance crew. I say that because the movie clearly has no sci fi vibe to it. This is all supposed to be 100% real, the present, and "explainable". So much for my suspension of disbelieve....


I believe that there is a scene, in which Truman accidentally opens the "wrong" door and glimpses a few extras taking a break behind the scenes (quite apart from the mishaps like Truman pickuing up the wrong radio signal and a light falling out of the sky). I think to delve into the logistics of the TV show any further would have probably been a mistake, because, if you think about it too much, the Truman Show wouldn't be feasible at all in real life, particularly commercially. Recuperating the costs of running a small town by mere advertsing? I think not.


Tue Feb 14, 2012 10:25 am
Post Re: Undersung Great Movie: The Truman Show (1998)
Unke wrote:
I believe that there is a scene, in which Truman accidentally opens the "wrong" door and glimpses a few extras taking a break behind the scenes (quite apart from the mishaps like Truman pickuing up the wrong radio signal and a light falling out of the sky). I think to delve into the logistics of the TV show any further would have probably been a mistake, because, if you think about it too much, the Truman Show wouldn't be feasible at all in real life, particularly commercially. Recuperating the costs of running a small town by mere advertsing? I think not.


Yep, you are correct. I just checked and spotted the scene. It is a "hollow wall" beside an elevator: there are extras and you can even see food stacked on a table, obviously from a catering company. That is enough to address the "extras issue". The financing is a different problem. Fortunately I have little knowledge about financing, so I don't need much explanation. Running the town is only part of it. Designing and building that giant dome... te CGI was the only painfully bad special fx shot in an otherwise wonderful set design: as I said: early 60s Norman Rockwell paintings with 90s cars and computers. Nice blend :-)


Tue Feb 14, 2012 11:16 am
Critic
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jul 29, 2009 9:35 am
Posts: 7279
Location: Easton, MD
Post Re: Undersung Great Movie: The Truman Show (1998)
Wow I thought my post would be controversial--I never imagined everyone would come together to sing the praises of The Truman Show. yay!

_________________
I'm lithe and fierce as a tiger


Tue Feb 14, 2012 6:25 pm
Profile
Post Re: Undersung Great Movie: The Truman Show (1998)
JamesKunz wrote:
Wow I thought my post would be controversial--I never imagined everyone would come together to sing the praises of The Truman Show. yay!


Controversial will better describe my next thread: Undersung Great Movie: The Home Video I Made of My Hot 18-Year-Old Neighbor.
[Reveal] Spoiler:
When she spies me taping her she uses a lot of foul language and the cops use a lot of foul violence on me. It's genuinely shocking.


Tue Feb 14, 2012 6:58 pm
Post Re: Undersung Great Movie: The Truman Show (1998)
JamesKunz wrote:
Wow I thought my post would be controversial--I never imagined everyone would come together to sing the praises of The Truman Show. yay!


Nope, not controversial at all. It is a great movie, with great editing, and a brilliant concept. As I said: I believe it is not so much a satyrical criticism on tv but a statement on the human condition. How many of us have asked themselves: What if my entire life is not unfolding by random events and my humble reaction to it, based upon the best available knowledge? What if it is pre fabricated in some way? What if everyone, everything is different as lomg as I am not there. It just gets into position a split second before I am there to observe and interact. What if I'm the butt of some cosmical joke? Sure - that leaves the question: what about everyone else???? What make me so special. BUT we don't know shit about anyone else, they could be planted into our minds, or faking..... nope, I'm not insane (yet), but these are some of the questions any sound human being will ask themselves sooner or later.

The Truman Show either addresses or hints at all of these questions.


Tue Feb 14, 2012 10:21 pm
Producer
User avatar

Joined: Tue Jun 28, 2011 9:04 am
Posts: 2387
Location: Lancashire, England.
Post Re: Undersung Great Movie: The Truman Show (1998)
Threeperf35 wrote:
Of course The Truman Show is unique among "fabricated reality" movies since the title character ist the only one not in on it. Everyone else is. I see it more of a commentary on the human condition than a prediction of reality tv (where everyone is in on it) or even a philosophical question of what is reality.

I love the early 60s Norman Rockwell feel of Truman's world. That alone is a great commentary.

I just have one small problem with the movie: The ultra complex logistics are way too simplified. Painted-on static clouds? What about maintenance? The whole set is still in pristine condition after 30 years. How? The moon is static? How exactly are the weather conditions emulated? How to maintain the salty seawater? What about the extras? Where and when do they enter and exit the sets? Where do they live when they are not "on air"? The filmmakers probably asked themselves the same questions, and shifted the "explanations" to what might be possible (such as miniature surveillance cameras) and the behind the scenes stuff is limited to director, producer and crew.

I don't need everything explained, especially because too much ofit would get us out of Truman's world for too long, but I would have loved just a few glimpses of, say, close calls with a maintenance crew. I say that because the movie clearly has no sci fi vibe to it. This is all supposed to be 100% real, the present, and "explainable". So much for my suspension of disbelieve....

BTW: loved the scene with the film music composer playing a cue live with his gear and sound engineer.

Anyway: great movie - and another example of how much of an underused actor Ed Harris is.



I might be wrong (I often am) but beyond mere humerous artistic flourishes, such things may be a comment on how we essentially believe what the powers tell us to believe.

_________________
... because I'm a wild animal


Wed Feb 15, 2012 5:37 am
Profile
Post Re: Undersung Great Movie: The Truman Show (1998)
I've heard people refer to the movie as sci-fi, but I don't see it. We're presented with the fact that the producers of the show have the ability to do this stuff. It's part of the internal logic of this fictional universe, for us to take or leave. The movie is Truman's story, so it wisely focuses on him and pushes the technical details into the background. It's another story entirely.

That said, the inciting incident is that a spotlight (one of the stars in the night sky, we're led to believe) breaks loose and plummets to the ground, right in front of Truman. This indicates that not only is it possible for the machinery in this hermetically sealed environment to go wrong, but that things have probably gone wrong before. This is just the first time it's happened directly in front of him, or, at least, in a way that can't be simply explained. The news radio cover story, about an airplane shedding parts, is just a little too clean to be plausible.

I've also seen it pointed out that The Truman Show appears to take place in the near future, with glimpses of slightly anachronistic technologies and clothing styles in the outside world. That's probably supposed to allow us to handwave any lingering questions about the logistics of the dome studio. It's the future. Of course they can simulate weather conditions in a closed environment.

Still, I'm glad this issue was raised, because it is part of the plot that the illusion isn't perfect. The producers of the show seem to have decided that it doesn't have to be good enough to fool an outsider coming into the artificial world--just good enough to fool someone who was born into that world and has never known anything different. Maybe that was the miscalculation that led to Truman figuring it all out.


Wed Feb 15, 2012 6:01 am
Producer
User avatar

Joined: Tue Jun 28, 2011 9:04 am
Posts: 2387
Location: Lancashire, England.
Post Re: Undersung Great Movie: The Truman Show (1998)
I don't know about that, Ken. I think the world is as well put together as could possibly be expected. The failure rate isn't zero, but it never could be.

I'd say the message is that despite the brilliant construct, one man can never tell another man what existence is by foisting an (albeit brilliant) artificial world on him.

It's got a kind of "truth will prevail" hook to it. The Producer's failure wasn't technical, it was a failure to understand humanity's yearning to be free.......or something. A bit like the first Matrix film.

_________________
... because I'm a wild animal


Wed Feb 15, 2012 9:30 am
Profile
Post Re: Undersung Great Movie: The Truman Show (1998)
Yeah, there's definitely that. It does function as an idealism vs. cynicism parable. The producers expected Truman to keep buying their flimsy cover stories, and in doing so, they show a jaundiced view of the human spirit. Of course Truman would repress his suspicions and opt to continue living in the comfort of the status quo. Why wouldn't he? I think the Ed Harris character at one point even claims that he was protecting Truman from the harshness of the outside world. But Truman sacks up and defies their expectations, purely because he believes that the unknown is worth knowing.

This brings up an interesting question: how many of us would do what Truman did? Maybe not necessarily in the specific scenario proposed by the movie, but if evidence were mounting that we were unwitting prisoners in some kind of invisible system being run by self-styled superior protectors, who would try to escape and who would try to find as much comfort as they could within the system? It's easy to do in movies, because the story ends and the characters don't have to deal with the unexplored implications.

I think The Matrix kind of blew it in that regard, though, because it introduces the idea that reality is a malleable construct of the human brain--nothing but sensory input reduced to electrical signals. The movie intends this to be an easy-access explanation for how the computers could create such a convincing illusion, but it doesn't dare to explore the idea much further. The unfortunate implication is that any reality is just as valid as the next one, at least judging by what your senses report to you.

The resulting message of the movie is deceptively cynical. If two equally valid realities are offered--a relatively normal one and a very shitty one filled with unending hardships--a small number of people will opt for the latter as long as it validates their yearning to be special, to fight against the idea that they're just like everybody else.


Wed Feb 15, 2012 11:00 am
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 26 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: MGamesCook and 2 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group.
Designed by Vjacheslav Trushkin for Free Forum/DivisionCore.
Translated by Xaphos © 2007, 2008, 2009 phpBB.fr