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Truman Show, The

Entry updated 25 November 2021. Tagged: Film.

Film (1998). Paramount Pictures presents a Scott Rudin production. Directed by Peter Weir. Written by Andrew Niccol. Cast includes Jim Carrey, Noah Emmerich, Ed Harris, Laura Linney and Natascha McElhone. 103 minutes. Colour.

Truman Burbank (Carrey) discovers that his entire life has been lived in a 24/7 reality television show, and that his idyllic Florida community is a vast enclosed soundstage in which everyone else is an actor.

Niccol's original, notably darker draft was set in a fake Manhattan, but the prohibitive cost forced a rethink, and Niccol (who had intended to direct) rewrote the project for wider appeal under Weir's direction, with a sunnier, feelgood tint to the show-within-a-film and the charismatic and bankable Carrey a poignantly gurning innocent descending into seeming Paranoia as the fabric of his world breaks down. Though the changes warm the tone somewhat, the narrative is still essentially the one Niccol designed; but the intended mystery of its Conceptual Breakthrough plot is undermined for most viewers by the film's immediate celebrity as a (now somewhat superseded) Satirical anticipation of the rise of reality television in the Media Landscape. Philip K Dick's Time out of Joint (1959) is an obvious ancestor, as is The Prisoner, but Niccol's own background in television throws a differentiating weight on the scopophilic element, with the demiurgic figure of producer Christof (Harris) a resonantly ambivalent antagonist. [NL]

see also: Mark Dunn.


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