Discuss the constructions of reality and conventions of film style used in Peter Weirs 'The Truman Show'. How do these help us to understand the issues of human rights and ethics of programme making, raised by the film?
Ravi Mall 10B
Discuss the constructions of reality and conventions of film style used in Peter Weirs ‘The Truman Show’. How do these help us to understand the issues of human rights and ethics of programme making, raised by the film?
‘The Truman Show’ (film) is about the life of Truman Burbank. Truman was adopted at birth by a fictions T.V Company called Omnicom. Truman is being broadcasted live on T.v as a reality T.V show. ‘The Truman Show’ (T.V) is being broadcasted twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week. Truman doesn’t know that he is the star of his own show and also doesn’t know that he lives in an artificial world and that all the people he knows are actors.
Truman Lives in Sea Haven. In reality Sea Haven is a giant studio and can be visable from the moon. This giant studio consists of five thousand cameras and this studio is Truman’s world. At the beginning of ‘The Truman Show’ we see a view of the studio from the moon, this is to show the significance and to stress that Trumans world is artificial. Christof, the mastermind and controller of ‘The Truman Show’ (T.V) says “We accept the reality with which we are presented”
He says this because he is like Truman’s father he was there for the television birth and has seen him grow up into a man. Christof, in ‘The Truman Show’ (film) is mainly seen in his control room, this studio is in the moon and is well disguised. Peter Weir may have chose this spot to symbolise Christof that is God and can see everything. In christofs control room, he is playing the part of the ‘real’ world in the eyes of the viewer, the style of filming is different because in the control room we do not hear music suddenly; to fit peoples moods and we do not see laughter, bordom etc. We see the production team and there facial expressions are serious and there dialogue is serious too. We see this because we peter weir wants to create two different worlds; the one world is Trumans world (what he believes and lives in) and the other is reality.
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In Seahaven all the cameras are hidden; in the radio in Truman’s and behind the mirror in Truman’s bathroom. There are many cameras in different positions so the viewers get a better view of what Truman is doing. As for us (the viewer watching ‘The Truman Show’ film) the whole concept of the film is not reality, but the worlds of the production team and the audience of the T.V show are filmed as if they are.
Peter Weir does the opposite of normal filming i.e. we can see the mask of the camera lens i.e.when Truman is in his car and the camera is behind the dial in his radio. Peter Weir shows us the mask of the camera because he is creating a surveillance theme on Truman and to show that it’s not reality. Peter Weir also used hidden cameras in surprising places like in the mirror and the dogs collar. This distinguishes that we are watching the world of Seahaven (‘The Truman Show’ T.V). Peter Weir uses high angles at Truman meaning that he is the star of his own show. There is also a shot were the camera turns upside down, the camera was in the pencil sharpner and whilst Truman was sharpening his pencil the camera was upside down this also suggest that Truman’s World will turn upside down and that everything will change sides.
Christoff the director of ‘The Truman Show’ T.V also does adverts for the show because ‘The Truman Show’ T.v is being broadcasted world wide and will have a lot of dedicated fans buying products that are advertised via the show. When Meryl is advertising the multi purpose knife/kitchen gadget, Meryl is in the centre of the shot and purposely holding the product so the camera will have a good direct shot at the product. Our perspective is manipulated, as the product is shown bigger then it is in real.The camera does a close up on the product to show the viewer what they are advertising. When Meryl has stopped advertising, Truman asks her “what the hell are you talking about!”
he says this because he had noticed a change in Meryls behaviour and wanted to know what was going on. The whole concept of advertising is to separate money from ‘The Truman Show t.v’ ; this is the real motivation behind the show.
Wendy Stites, the films visual consultant chose the costumes for the actors to ware. Wendy got her ideas from a book called ‘ Everyday fashions of the 1940’s’. Wendy worked with Marilyn Mathews a cloths designer, Marilyn said “Our challenge was to avoid making costumes too Cornish and also not to make them too tied into a specific period of time.”
By this they concentrated on checked patterns (which Truman wares) and red,black and yellow are worn by the other actors. Truman stands out because he often has creases on his cloths and the texture is rugged. All the other chracters i.e Meryl wares clothes that are perfect with no creases or any signs of ware. Meryl's cloths are steroetypically feminine; as the colours she wares are mainly pink and femine colours. We often saw that truman's clothes were rugged and had creases on them. This may suggest that truman is having a mid life crisis.
Truman is planning to leave Sea Haven and is in the travel agents, Truman wants to go to Fiji. On the wall; there are posters to put off customers flying. The posters say "Flying is dangerous," These posters are there because of Christof dosen't want Truman to leave or attempt to leave Sea Haven. Christof is clever in a way because he uses devices nto make Truman stay in Sea Haven. Christof has created Trumans fear of water by controlling his father to die in water (sea) hence Truman's fear of water. The morality of this has two sides: one side is that Christof creates these devises and fears to stop Truman trying to leave Seah Haven, and the other side is-the viewers can see Trumans emotion. Christof dosent use physical force to stop truman leaving, as he wants to create a world where there is freedom for Truman (or where Truman thinks he's free.)
At the start of the film Truman we see Truman in his bathroom,waring his pyjamis. After a long pause, (his could be Peter Weirs way of creating suspence) a hand wipes the condensation off the glass, then wee see Truman' Face. The fact that the we (the viewer watching the show) shows us that there is a two-way mirror. Truman is having no facial expression and stares at the mirror for a while. He talks to himself via the mirror as if he was participating he was in a t.v interview ( No knowing that he's the star of his own show.) When Truman talks to himself, it symbolises that he is comfortable in his own world and when he speaks like he is being interviewed, it suggests that he is a celebtrie but does not even know it yet. Truman opens his bathroom cabinet and replaces his shaving tackle, we see the lensof the hidden camera. Truman then puts his Jumper on, which Meryl bought him, The camera closes up on the manufactures name. This plays a big part in 'The Truman Show' (t.v show) because money fuels the whole show. So without advertising, merchandising there wouldn't be a show. Truman is sitting on thre sofa, his mother and wife have just departed, On the T.V it said,"tonights golden-oldies is enduring a muched loved classic, 'how me the way to go home'. A hym of praise to small-town life where we learn that you dont have to leave home to discover what the world is all about and that no one is poor who has friends," This is another attempt from christof to manipulate Truman's mind to make him stay and continue with the normal,daily broadcasting of the show.
All christof's devices are violating Truman's human rights. Truman dosn't realize that he is not excercising his full power of human rights, he dosent even realize that he is living in an artificial world. We live in a society where we can take full advantage of our human rights and when you compare our reality to trumans world there is a big difference. Although in our society there is a there is a minority of reality T.V shows; such as 'big brother', for the viewer watching it is not realy reality because it is edited by the producers and is not realy live broadcasting. Also in the 'big brother house' it is a game show, so people aren't realy being 'normal', they are playing a number of mind games to win other peoples votes. In the 'big brother house' the participants realize that they are being watched so they can excersise there human rights.
"We accept the reality with which we are presented."
Christof, creater of the 'The Truman Show' (show)
christof obviously would say this because he is the creater of Truman's world. Everybody accepts the reality with which they are presented, but if we want freedom, we can have freedom, but in Trumans presented reality, he cann't because everything he does is being controlled. So Truman does not accept the his reality because he hasn't got a choice, hence his burning desire to be free, which of course, he achieves.