42. The Truman Show

Movie: The Truman Show

Release Date: June 5, 1998

Director: Peter Weir

Starring: Jim Carrey, Laura Linney, Noah Emmerich, Natascha McElhone, Holland Taylor, Ed Harris.

Tag Lines: “All the world’s a stage…”

“The Story Of A Lifetime.”

“On The Air. Unaware.”

“The World is Watching.”

“We like to watch!”

“Watch What Happens.”

Relevance: I was never a fan of reality television. Yes, I watched the first three seasons of “The Real World” on MTV, but there lies the extent of my viewership. I have been forced to watch certain episodes of other so-called “entertainment” shows throughout the years, but all that did was solidify my displeasure for the format. I can’t pinpoint exactly why I disliked them so much. It may be that I really loathe people about eighty percent of the time. Being an introvert, I am most happy sitting at home alone away from the dregs of society. Also, I guess I want my entertainment to be an escape to a different time and place with well written characters. With that said, I had no problem falling in love with a movie about reality television.

‘The Truman Show’ debuted to critical acclaim in the summer of 1998. It was also a huge success at the box office far exceeding its budget and industry projections. 1998 was not a great time for me. As well reported on this blog, that was the summer that I was dragged out of the closet kicking and screaming. I spent most of those first few months as a gay man working and hiding in my tiny little apartment in nowhere, New York. Although I kept abreast of all things pop culture, including movies, I did not venture out very often to see any in the theaters. So although I wanted to see Jim Carrey in what critics were calling a “more dramatic role,” I opted out.

I am not sure if it was late 1998 or early 1999 when I finally sat down to watch ‘The Truman Show’ via VHS rental. I watched it with a friend and I absolutely loved it. My friend, not so much. After the movie ended the words that fell out of his mouth, and of course I am paraphrasing, were, “That was the worst most unrealistic movie I ever watched.” I just stared at him. I told him I found it to be clever, original, tender, thought-provoking and completely entertaining. He just stared at me. My friend just could not buy into its premise and he happened to be one of those people who could not suspend reality for one-hundred and three minutes to allow himself to be entertained. We left it as an “agreeing to disagree” moment.

I loved the movie so much I made sure to tell everyone about it and it became the movie that I was rooting for during the following award season. It received a lot of nominations, but fell short in the “winning” department. My love did not stop with those loses though. As soon as ‘The Truman Show’ was released for purchase, I bought the VHS and watched and re-watched it for months. I eventually bought the DVD and it has remained in my movie collection for years. I often revisit the movie and always re-fall in love with it again every time I do. Its themes of fame, celebrity, and society’s need to delve into people’s private lives has always resonated with me. I guess the movie fills my void for the lack of reality television in my life and perhaps (most likely) it always will.

Today’s Thoughts: “We’ve become bored with watching actors give us phony emotions. We are tired of pyrotechnics and special effects. While the world he inhabits is, in some respects, counterfeit, there’s nothing fake about Truman himself. No scripts, no cue cards. It isn’t always Shakespeare, but it’s genuine. It’s a life.”

I was excited to watch ‘The Truman Show’ today as I probably have not watched it in its entirety in a few years. I have watched bits and pieces here and there, but not a full on relaxed viewing. So with a cup of coffee and a warm blanket, I escaped reality with a movie about reality television.

Peter Weir is a brilliant director and ‘The Truman Show’ is an absolutely brilliant film and my all time favorite of his contributions to the world of film. (You can check out my other favorite Peter Weir films here: 131. Witness and 104. Dead Poets Society) The script is also fantastic, beautifully written by Andrew Niccol. What he and Mr. Weir created was an entertaining and existential film that not only makes me smile and laugh but think (a lot) as well. Its themes were relevant in 1998 and they are even more relevant in 2020.

‘The Truman Show’ is a difficult movie to categorize between comedy or drama, but not whether it is a great film or not. Because it is. Even my friend who could not buy into its premise agreed that it was well done, despite his disdain for it. So he was wrong and right. It is a tremendous cinematic accomplishment and one of the greatest movies ever released over the past twenty-five years.

And with that, “Good morning, and in case I don’t see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and good night!”

Awards: Academy Award for Best Director, Peter Weir (nomination), Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Ed Harris (nomination), Academy Award for Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen, Andrew Niccol (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama, Jim Carrey (winner), Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture, Ed Harris (winner), Golden Globe for Best Original Score – Motion Picture, Burkhard von Dallwitz, Philip Glass (winner), Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Drama (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Director – Motion Picture, Peter Weir (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Screenplay – Motion Picture, Andrew Niccol (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Direction, Peter Weir (winner), BAFTA Award for Best Screenplay – Original, Andrew Niccol (winner), BAFTA Award for Best Production Design, Dennis Gassner (winner), BAFTA Award for Best Film (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, Ed Harris (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Cinematography, Peter Biziou (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Special Effects, Michael J. McAlister, Brad Kuehn, Craig Barron, Peter Chesney (nomination), Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Picture (nomination), Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures, Peter Weir (nomination), Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Production Design, Dennis Gassner (nomination), National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actor, Ed Harris (winner), Writers Guild of America Award for Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen, Andrew Niccol (nomination).

Ways to Watch: YouTube, Google Play, Vudu, Amazon Prime, iTunes, DVD Availability.


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