Truman Show Essay
Analyse how visual techniques are used to develop deeper ideas in a visual text you have studied. The film “Truman Show” directed by Peter Weir is about a character named Truman Burbank and his remarkable journey in escaping a world full of deceit and lies and finding personal freedom. His journey helps present the idea that a true life with the risks of emotional pain is better than one safe imprisonment. This is a deeper idea because the search for personal freedom and truth is a universal idea. It is human nature to seek the truth.
Weir used various film techniques to engage the audience by use of camera shots and angles, dialogue, music and costume. The Truman Show is about a man named Truman Burbank, “the first baby to be adopted by a corporation. ” who lives in the fictional town of Seahaven, which is actually a TV set created by Christof the producer of “the Truman show” in the film. Weir brings out subtle humour in the movie by creating ironic names for his characters Like the main character’s name “True-man” , Truman himself is the only very real person who naively believes in everything the producer and the actors wants him to believe in this fake made-up town.
The main character alone has no idea that he lives in a giant TV studio, where thousands of cameras capture his every movement, which is teleported into the living rooms of a worldwide audience. Another ironic name in the movie is “Christof”, a manipulative character in the show who maintains a God like figure throughout the film. We see the power of Christof from the very beginning as The film opens on a close-up of the face of Christof who speaks directly to the camera “We’ve become bored with watching actors give us phoney emotions.
While the world (Truman) inhabits is in some respects counterfeit, there is nothing fake about Truman himself… Nothing you see on this show is fake. It’s merely controlled. ” And yet we learn gradually throughout the film that everything on the televised life of Truman Burbank is set up, directed and acted out as an entertainment for a viewing audience showing Truman’s entrapment. We see Truman for the very first time in the next scene, where he is seen through a double frame within the actual frame of our screen.
Firstly he is framed by a television monitor screen border that has the word ‘live’ in green at the bottom right hand corner. Within this oval shaped frame along the bottom are cosmetic bottles, which show that there is a camera hidden in the bathroom mirror capturing Truman. However, Truman believes he is on his own and comes across naive and innocent. This also differentiates Truman from Meryl and Marlon who are filmed outdoors with open backgrounds to emphasise on their liberty. This scene shows truman’s lack in personal privacy and his entrapment though the type of framing used.
The dialogue of Christof’s manipulative tone, shows Truman’s entrapment irony The imagery of entrapment further enhanced throughout the film, where Weir portrays Truman’s innocent and vulnerable character through camera angles, shots and costume. The scene begins with Truman’s ‘wife’ Meryl arriving home on her bicycle. The camera shoots her from a low angle, making her look superior and bigger on screen and when she calls Truman; we see Truman through a high angle shot that makes him look inferior and smaller on screen.
He is on his hands and knees, doing gardening and is shot from behind so that he has to turn over his shoulder to speak to Meryl, which shows Truman’s vulnerability. The use of the two contrasting camera angles here creates an emphasis that Meryl has the power in their relationship. This visual technique of showing Meryl higher than Truman kneeling and Meryl freely upright is repeated in the later scene when she surprises him in the basement.
Truman’s stripy and bright gardening costume in this scene symbolizes his foolishness and innocence. shows trumans entrapped) We develop our sympathy towards Truman as Weir illustrates Truman’s entrapment through the use of framing and sound effects. Truman’s entrapment is shown in the scene where he has to cross the bridge to the boat. Truman’s fear of water is conveyed to us visually. Weir uses black camera framing as Truman walks hesitantly across the jetty after buying the ticket. His body language indicates that he is attempting something he finds very difficult. As Truman walks across the jetty the sound of water has been amplified to reinforce his fear of water.
There is a POV shot in the scene which lets the audience see what Truman is seeing, which is a half-submerged dinghy. The camera cuts back to close up of Truman’s face to show a horrified facial expression and we realise that Truman is afraid of boats and sailing. There is almost no dialogue on this scene and the scene closes with a punctuated moment with a single, dull booming sound effect. This scene has ultimately created an imagery of a prison cell that Truman is in, ingrained into the back of our minds.
This scene allows us to understand the lack of privacy and freedom in Truman’s life the very reasons which leads Truman to question his being and life inside Seahaven. Truman begins to doubt his world and his desire to leave his “perfect” world becomes obvious in the scene where Truman and Marlon practices golf strokes. Series of high angle long shots show the audience that the characters are on a bridge that ends suddenly as if it were never finished. It also symbolizes Truman’s inability to escape this fake town. “You know, I’m thinking about getting out. I’ve got itchy feet. Truman’s dialogue is automatically shut down as Marlon tries to talk him out.
This shows that people that he loves and cares for are all lying to him. Truman’s increasing suspicions, his futile efforts to leave Sehaven, his growing realisation that his wife is “part of this”, all build to a shattering emotional climax. From this point on, Truman battles his way to find answers and we as an audience relate to his struggle for his search of real love, real friendship and ultimately the truth which has been deceitfully covered by false reality of Seahaven and Christof.
As the film reaches an ending, we see Truman developing into a heroic figure. Truman overcomes his fears in water in order to escape the social control occurring on ‘his set’ to find his personal freedom; this is illustrated by camera angles, shots and costume. In christof’s ‘hero shot’, in the last scene of the film, Truman is seen in a low angle to indicate his domination of situation which contrasts to the beginning of the film, where Truman wore silly and colourful costume which labelled him innocent and naive.
In this scene Truman is shot in a low angle which suggests some personal strength and gives emphasis to his new found independence. The black and white formal costume with a captain cap also symbolizes the character has matured. The camera techniques are also very different from the beginning where Truman was mostly framed to show his entrapment, at the end the audience are given a very high, wide shot of the boat sailing through a calm blue sea. The frame is completely open with the brightly lit sea and sky extending beyond the frame to indicate that he is at liberty to explore.
Truman reaches the limit of the set and finds out about the truth of his existence and step out through the exit door to liberty. As this happens, we cannot see his face and this shows the character now has his own privacy. The Truman show explores and challenges the different morals and belief one has in a diverse society in which we live in today. The movie illustrated a colourful contrast between the beginning of the film and the end of the film.
The main haracter, Truman’s journey took the audience by surprise as he persevered to earn his right for truth and reality, from the beginning the lack of genuine love and friendship in Truman’s life was what caused Truman to risk his life and suffer so he could be one step closer to his hopes in finding the true love he yearns for. The film effectively used camera techniques and special effects to enhance the idea that a true life with risks of pain and suffering is better than one of safe imprisonment. The Truman Show is a re-creation of myths, depicting a man imprisoned in the nest of a fake paradise or heaven by a manipulative god.
At the end, after Truman comes up against the enclosing wall and finds the door to the outside, the producer speaks to him in a voice from above and tries to instill fear in him, to keep him under control. It is an interesting ironic touch that as Truman goes up the steps to reach the door, just before the producer speaks to him, he is in a heaven-like setting. As noted, he rejects this false paradise and chooses to exile himself into the mundane world that is his natural home. He travels from fake — fantastic and fabulous — nature to true nature.
University/College: University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 28 December 2016
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