Friday, January 16, 2015

Help, I’m Trapped in a Perfect Manufactured Reality

Spoiler Warning!  This post contains the ending of the movie The Truman Show.
                For January, we are starting a new series, all starting with “Help, I’m Trapped…”  In this series, the main characters are trapped, either literally or figuratively somewhere and cannot initially break free.  The next entry in the series is The Truman Show (1998).  This movie stars Jim Carrey, Laura Linney, Noah Emmerich, and Ed Harris, is directed by Peter Weir, and is critically lauded.  It grossed over $264 million in worldwide box office.  So let’s begin.
                At first, Truman Burbank is seemingly happy with his normal desk job, his wife, and his best friend, living in the small town of Seahaven.  But underneath the cracks are beginning to show.  He’s beginning to suspect the truth, which is that he is in entirely manufactured set with hidden cameras recording his every move for a TV show starring Truman himself.  All the other people, his wife, his best friend, his coworkers, even just the random people on the street, are actors and extras are participating in The Truman Show.  Everything in the entire world of Seahaven is manufactured for him to live and work for the rest of his life.  All the houses, businesses and jobs are there to give Truman a perfect life, free from worry about things like robbery, murder and other crimes.
                But Truman feels trapped in Seahaven.  When he was a child, he desired to be an adventurer and explorer.  He wanted so bad to be free of his small town.  And recently, he has become aware of the cracks.  He has become aware of the fact that he is in a man inside a perfect manufactured world.  And he wants out.
On an otherwise typical day, a theatrical light falls out of the sky and lands in front of Truman’s house.  A few days later, Truman’s car radio starts malfunctioning and begins broadcasting someone recording his every movement in his car.  The incident shocks Truman, throwing off balance his otherwise normal day.  Bewildered, instead of wandering into his office building, he decides to go into the one next door.  He tries to go on an elevator but then sees that elevator room has no back wall (and therefore, part of a set), and is thrown out of the “office building” by “office security.”  Then an extra playing a homeless man turns out to be the same actor who played his father, and his “father” is quickly whisked away while Truman tries in vain to catch up to him.
                Then he notices that on his wedding day picture, his wife crossed her fingers during the ceremonial kiss.  He follows her to work and despite the best efforts of extras to keep him away, he finds her in an operation room – with a supposedly sedated woman jumping up when a pan drops, and Truman is escorted away again.  Truman also notices that his wife is seemingly advertising various products around the house.  She also keeps pressuring to have a baby with him, along with his mother also pressuring him. 
                With the cracks of his perfect reality beginning to show, he wants out.  He tries to buy a plane ticket, but his destination isn't available for another month.  He tries to buy a bus ticket, but the bus breaks down.  He goes home and waits in his car for his wife to come home.  He tricks her into leaving with him in the car and they encounter various artificial elements trying to keep him from leaving, including "fallout" from the nuclear power plant outside the city.  But the police officer explaining the situation, who he had never met before, uses Truman’s name.  Truman tries to escape but people in nuclear suits capture him and he goes back home. 
                Back at home, after enduring another of his wife’s product placements, he snaps and demands to know why she’s doing it, which in turn makes her frightened wife yell for somebody to do something.  A few minutes later, his best friend shows up out of the blue and the actress yells at his best friend about the situation not being professional. 
                After his wife leaves, his best friend reveals that his father is alive.  This placates Truman for a short while, but his restlessness about leaving becomes too great.  He makes a mess in the basement, strewing trash everywhere.  His best friend makes another surprise appearance and discovers that Truman used the mess to plan his escape, digging a hole out from under the house. 
                The next day, he is discovered piloting a boat out on the sea.  While the creator of The Truman Show nearly kills him with a manufactured storm, the creator eventually lets him go and he runs into the set wall.  Finally with his cover blown, the creator begs Truman to stay over the loudspeaker, saying Truman would be living in a perfect world, free from pain and worry and out there, is not so perfect and he would not be safe from harm.  Truman responds by leaving anyway, and the movie ends. 

                While Truman Burbank lives in a supposedly perfect reality, he felt trapped.  He wanted to get out because he felt the paranoia that the entire world was watching him, that the whole world he knew was fake.  It was full of flaws because the manufactured world and the manufactured people he lived with started showing their cracks, their inconsistencies.  His “perfect reality” was not so perfect after all.  Truman felt he had to escape, to get away from the artifice of his so-called perfect life.  And he does, venturing off into the real world, not a perfect reality but a much better one, filled with actual truth and actual people.  

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