Value of Life in “Truman Show” and “The Lost Thing”

Categories: Utopia

Texts give value and meaning to our life because they have the ability to evoke audience’s empathy through a range of techniques and plots. This is evident in Peter Weir’s film “Truman Show” and Shaun Tan’s short film “The lost thing”. Human beings are always searching for the fantasy of utopia and each person has their own to define ‘idealistic’. Having a close relationship with other can deepen one’s escape sense of belonging. Both texts portray how an individual’s desire for utopian world can transform their interactions with others and the dystopia world around them into meaningful experiences, whilst providing an enlightened sense of identity.

Having a close relationship encourage one to complete their journey and fulfil themselves. In Peter Weir’s “Truman show”, Truman’s desire for his true relationship is in the love he has for Sylvia, who he knows as Lauren. This love becomes a motivation for Truman to challenge himself, seen in his secret attempt to create an accurate portrait of her face from pictures ripped and collected from the magazines.

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The importance of this relationship is reflected by the close up shot of Truman looking pastiche portrait of Sylvia after escaping from the storm. The up- lifting music playing softly in the background lightens up the audience’s mood which is contrastingly different from the intense and stressful atmosphere throughout the film. This scene also implies that Sylvia is Truman’s motivation which results in his confidence to be ready to confront the hardships.

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Shaun Tan’s “The Lost Thing” explores the notion that discoveries can shift our perspectives on the world. Tan elicits the significance of exploration encompasses around the story through the use of close up shot when he first met the lost thing. People barely notices the lost thing’s existence; they are all ‘too busy doing other stuff’. Tan draws the audience’s attention on the boy uncertainty and confusion when he releasing it was “lost”. The camera pans through the society revealing the abnormality of the creature as it stands out in a world that is based on conformity. The creature’s tendency to stand out in the society allows us as the audience to contrast against conformity and individuality.

In order to get closer to the utopian world, individuals must overcome many increasingly difficult challenges to improve themselves and fit in the new world. In Peter Weir ‘s “Truman Show”, Truman has lived in Seahaven Island which is depicted as an ideal community with its perfect houses and friendly residents without knowing it is manufactured by Christof. Christof finds himself as a creator of utopia world, however, Christof’s utopianism is Truman’s dystopianism. It is shown in the extreme long-shot, revealing Truman in the far-left corner of the screen. Weir uses tracking shot as Truman walks along the edge his ‘dystopia world’, making him look like he is literally walking on water. The camera’ s close up on the world ‘EXIT’ printed on the door handle symbolises Truman’s genuine chance of escape. Christof’s attempt to persuade Truman to stay, to reassure him that this show was created to make his life better, is refuted by Truman, who reveals to the audiences a deeper insight into what it means to be human and to have individual freedom as his utopian world: “You never had a camera in my head.”

Similarly, Shaun Tan’s “The lost thing” also conveys human desire for utopia world. When a little boy and the lost thing finally reach the doorway to utopian world, which is located ‘in a dark little gap of some anonymous streets”. The dystopia world appears as a monotonous and isolated world to the lost thing as people neglect and ignore it due to society’s difference. Shaun distinguishes between the two worlds through the use of low key lighting. While the dystopia world seems everlastingly encompassed in the darkness, the sunlight passing through the opened entry door to utopian world creates a sense of calm, hope and happiness. And while most of his challenging journey is shrouded in gloom and dullness, the utopian world is, in contrast, far more dazzling. The tracking shot and non- diegetic soft music triggers’ audience emotion and introduce them into the ‘happy place’. The vast array of other unique creatures depicts a world of acceptance and belongings.


Updated: Dec 12, 2023
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Value of Life in “Truman Show” and “The Lost Thing”. (2020, Sep 02). Retrieved from

Value of Life in “Truman Show” and “The Lost Thing” essay
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