“I heard someone say the other day, ‘What a bizarre movie,'” recalls Australian director Peter Weir. “I don’t think so. I think life is outrageous right now, and the film is reflecting that.”
The movie in question is Weir’s most recent effort, The Truman Show, and it is certainly unconventional. The film stars rubber-faced comic Jim Carrey (Liar Liar) as an insurance salesman whose entire life has been televised internationally without his knowledge. Speaking by phone from Chicago, Weir says, “Some have said to me that they looked at things differently after they came out and made jokes about whether they were on-camera or not.”
Probably the strangest aspect of The Truman Show is the fact that Weir cast the frequently hyperactive Carrey in an everyman role. Weir claims that putting Carrey in such a position is hardly a stretch. “The ability to make people laugh is unique and something you’re born with or not. It’s possible for someone who has this gift to make the transition to drama, but not the other way around,” he says. “You don’t think of Larry Olivier as good at light comedy. When he tried it, I wouldn’t say that’s what we remember him for.”
The Truman Show has several offbeat touches (strange camera angles and a shot of the moon being used as a spotlight). Weir remembers several of the ideas that he and his collaborators had were left out so the storytelling would not be sacrificed. “I even had a crazy idea at one time, which was impossible technically. I would have loved to have had a video camera installed in every theater the film was to be seen. At one point, the projectionist would cut power and could cut to the viewers in the cinema and then back to the movie. But I thought it was best to leave that idea untested,” he says.
If The Truman Show does poke fun at the absurdities of media voyeurism, Weir doesn’t directly condemn it. He declares, “I think, as we saw with the whole Lady Diana business, the very people who were outraged at the perceived cause of her death, which were the paparazzi chasing the car, were the same people who bought the magazines and the sensational tabloid papers. That’s a complex situation, and you can’t blame them. They loved her, but they wanted to watch every moment of her life. If they’d had a camera in her house, they would have had the viewership of The Truman Show or more.”
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Transcript of Film Techniques in The Truman Show
Film Techniques The Truman Opening Sequence The opening sequence consists of The Truman Show being introduced by people, telling us about how they are impacted or how they feel about The Truman Show. They say for many it is like a way of life which raises our expectations of the show Character The main character in the movie is Truman Burbank. He is just a normal person and he doesn’t know he is being filmed during his whole life. The other characters include Cristof who is the creator, and Syliva who is trying to tell Truman that he is being filmed constantly. Setting The setting is significant to the movie as it is an island, which means it is surrounded by water; so since Truman is scared of water, he will not leave the island. But the ‘island’ is actually in a massive dome in which the creator, Cristof can control everything. Eg, weather, time of day. Storyline The storyline is purely based upon what is happening in Truman Burbanks life, but when an actor on the show tries to tell him that everything is fake and that he is being filmed, he starts getting curious which leads him to trying to leave the island to go to Fiji. Personally if someone hadn’t told me what was happening I would have not have known what was going on until about half way through the film. Structure of Time The structure in time of the movie includes Truman having many flashbacks, which gives us indications on why he feels a certain way about things. For example it shows that Truman is scared of water, then he has a flash back where his dad when he drowns off a boat infront of him. Cause and Effect There are many parts in the movie, where the creator causes things to happen within the dome which affects the way Truman thinks about things. The main one would be when Truman is young and he and his dad are fishing, and Cristof directs the actor playing Trumans dad to pretend to drown, which then causes Truman to have a fear of water. Point of View The point of view is mainly from Truman, but is also sometimes in the view of the creators/ producers and people watching the show, and how they feel about the show and what is happening within it. Closing Sequence In the closing sequence of the movie, Truman tricks the creators/producers and escapes the island on a boat. He has realised he is being filmed and the possibility of him leaving the island has come true. The creator tries everything he can do to make Truman head back home. He is even trying to kill Truman instead of him finding the door out of the dome. The lighting of the movie is controlled of the
creator of the film. He can control the time
of the day and the sun light through the dome. Lighting The camera angles of this film is very interesting as it is showing us what is happening to Truman with him unaware he is being filmed, so we can see what Truman is seeing. Camera/Film Visual Composition The visual composition of this show is all artificial, as the people in the show are all actors and Truman is being filmed but he doesn’t know it. The characters are all on a loop and Truman starts to notice this throughout the movie. The space within the frame entirely depends on what Truman is looking at. Acting The acting in the film is very good, as Truman believes that everyone is just doing there everyday things, but in reality they are all actors on a loop. Without Sylvia telling him that everything is fake I don’t believe that he would have ever realised. Sound The sound is very relevant to what is happening in the film and the music sets the mood for whatever may happen next.