The Truman Show: The Persistance To Find Freedom

What would it feel like to be the character of a puppet show? What would you feel if your whole being is manipulated, that you have no control over your life, your job, even your love? The Truman Show directed by Peter Weir is a film where the protagonist, Truman Burbank, slowly becomes aware of and questions the fakeness of the world he lives in -- an isolated world with hidden cameras everywhere to film the popular TV-series obsessed by millions of viewers. The town of Seahaven is presented as a perfect place as all actions are controlled by the show director Christof. However, Truman decides to fight against the manipulation as he pursues freedom to be himself, to follow his desires and fulfill his dream to see the outside world, no matter the hardships.

The theme of manipulation to forcefully alter one’s desire can be demonstrated through the intentional fake relationship and environment around Truman. After Truman was failed attempt to get out of the town, Truman vents out his frustration by forcefully taking his wife Meryl on a ride. On their way to escape, the close-up shots on Meryl's constant rigid smile and evasive eyes, along with her discouraging dialogue such as 'you know you can't drive over water' and 'your mom is going to be worried sick' all convey that her attempt to manipulate and persuade Truman to give up by targeting his weakness of fear for water and care for his mom. Furthermore, the sudden traffic jam, the water, the unnatural line of fire, and the nuclear accident all symbolise the multiple layers of challenges and manipulation preventing Truman from the real outside world. Nevertheless, Truman doesn’t flinch from these difficulties. As an officer accidentally addressed his name at the nuclear accident site, the close-up shot of Truman’s perplexed and shocked facial expression upon a stranger knowing his name and the tracking shots of Truman frantically running away all illustrate that he is finally sure of the lies he lives with and he desperately wants to get out and seek for freedom. Hence, Truman’s persistent attempts to challenge the manipulation showcases his strong will for freedom.

Despite all the manipulations, the scene where Truman escapes the sea and finds the exit of the studio demonstrates that Truman’s will of achieving freedom and truth cannot be suppressed. The peak of manipulation may be suggested by Christof’s determined tone during his dialogue for thunderstorms, “increase the wind” and “give me some lightning” just to target Truman’s fear expecting him to stay under his control. Moreover, the sentimental classical music and the body language of Truman hitting the studio wall in despair represent his anger against the manipulation of Christof imprisoning him in the studio and his extreme longing for freedom. After he arrived at the exit door, a high angle shot shows that he is being called by an unseen powerful voice from above like the god from the heavens. Christof recalls in a fatherly tone of Truman's past, “I watch you made your first step” and the dangerous outside world, “There is no more truth out there than in the world I created for you”, which highlights the insignificant power of Truman under Christof's emotional manipulation. Yet, Truman's ironic dialogue, “you never had a camera in my head” with his body posture of bowing and walking into the exit suggests his determination to attain freedom. Therefore, by breaking all the manipulations, Truman gains control, which is the freedom of choice for his life.

In summary, Peter Weir’s film, The Truman Show conveys that the persistence to find freedom is an integral attribute for achieving it, and this cannot be suppressed by any form of manipulation. As we can see from the contrast between the two scenes-one which he failed and the other which he succeeds in breaking the control, Truman has finally become a true man. He is no longer the puppet, he finally becomes himself, a real human being.  

07 July 2022
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