The Truman Show: An Imperfect Utopia?

Essay by AKAaronHigh School, 12th gradeA+, April 2004

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In the film The Truman Show by director Peter Weir, the viewer is presented with a rural utopia. The star of this paradise is a life insurance salesman named Truman Burbank, portrayed by Jim Carrey. As we go through Truman's day we see how the world, literally, revolves around him and yet, we see that it is not a world at all, but a set. In fact, as the television narrator informs the viewer, it is "one of the only man-made objects visible from space." At the helm of this television marvel is the show's director, Christof, played by Ed Harris. From the beginning the viewers can realize that Christof has been a type of babysitter for Truman - guiding and controlling his life of complete perfection. But even in this life of complete happiness and perfection, there is an overbearing sense of imperfection, of a breaking point looming on the horizon.

As Peter Weir tries to develop this perfect world within a world, he seems to purposefully leave out an important element present in any utopia - that of imperfection. Weir conveys this absence of daily strife with the use of camera angles, music, and lighting.

Weir's use of camera angles throughout the movie helps to convey the missing imperfection in Truman's world. When we begin the day with Truman setting off for work, we see the same front-faced view of Truman waving to his neighbors as we saw the day before. He drives to work and we see the radio camera as we saw the day before, he walks into his work and we see him stopped and pressed up against the same wall talking to the same twins as the day before. This repetitive use of camera angles really shows the viewer the monotony of...