on 5 April 2006
Ok....if you are reading this review for the Special "Collectors" edition of the TRUMAN SHOW then I am going to assume that you are already familiar with the film itself and are more curious about the extras on this DVD.
Well, in one word; 'Disappointing'. The original film was a bare bones DVD release with literally nothing in the way of added features, and this updated version goes some way to addressing this imbalance, but overall it doesn't bring that much to the party and still feels lacking.
Excatly what you get is this;
TV spots & Teaser trailer (hardly worth watching trailers when you own the actual film itself is there?)
Photo Galleries (ho-hum)
A 2 part documnetary about the making of. (sounds promising but actually dull as ditchwater)
and a Visual effects feature (again, not very gripping)
the best feature are the deleted scenes which are actually quite lengthy and are genuinely intriguing but hardly going to stand repeated viewing.
Sadly, there is NO directors or cast commentary which I would have thought would be the main attraction for a "Special Collector's Edition" ?
I have rated this 5 stars because the film itself is so outstanding, but if you are asking "Is it worth updating my old basic copy for this new one?" I would have to say "NO". Don't get me wrong, if you still don't own this wonderful film then this is THE edition to get, but when you consider that you can still pick up the original version for around a fiver then I cannot advise you to spend more than double that for this release, Sorry.
on 18 April 2005
The "Truman Show" directed by Peter Weir and written by Andrew Niccol is a film about the life of a man called Truman Burbank. Unbeknown to himself he was adopted by a film company, when he was a baby and since then he has been the star of his own reality TV show which is broadcasted all over the world. The only purpose of his life is to entertain television viewers worldwide. All the people around him are actors, even his so-called parents, his wife and his best friend Marlon, who are acting from a script written by the creator and producer Christof (played by Ed Harris). He lives in Seahaven, a specially constructed film studio which is like a world within the world. Seahaven is situated on an island, which Truman has never left, because he is afraid of water. His life is very ordinary - he is married to a woman called Meryl, he has got a nice small house and an office job - but nevertheless millions of people all over the world watch him every day. Christof is able to manipulate Truman's behaviour as he can easily change the weather, decide which person should talk to Truman and what about - he can decide everything in Truman's life. However, after two decades Truman starts to be suspicious as technical breakdowns become more frequent (a spotlight falls down from the sky when he's on his way to work and his car radio starts to transmit the producer's instructions). In addition to this, Truman has seen his father again, who is supposed to be dead and he starts to think about events in the past, in particular about the time when he met Sylvia - his real love. Through various flashback scenes, we gain an insight into Truman's past, and events which shape his personality and ambitions. The rest of the film consists of his gradual realisation that all is not as it seems. All this leads to a fascinating turning-point and ends through a combination of desperation and joy.
This film certainly has many aspects that one has to think about; on the one hand it shows the enormous power of today's media (just think of all the reality-shows on TV) and on the other hand it shows that a person has to accept the reality he or she lives in. It provokes thoughts in the viewer, about whether our world may not be real, and that there could be an external force controlling all our actions and watching what we do on a reality TV show.
*** THIS REVIEW IS FOR THE "BLU RAY" VERSION OF THE FILM***
Watching Peter Weir's 1998 film in 2009 is a weird and wonderful trip - if not a slightly disconcerting one at times.
First - it's as masterful and brilliant as you remember it - a very clever unfolding story about a man whose life is permanent Candid Camera for the entire planet - living in an artificially created world with literally everyone around him being an actor. Then there's the stunning and believable performances of a perfectly picked cast (Carey, Linney and Harris all shine). And second - with the appalling Big Brother polluting our airwaves night after night - "The Truman Show" is not just relevant eleven years later - it seems to have actually predicted our television future...
But back to the BLU RAY - the first thing you notice is the picture, which is a mixture of beautiful clarity one moment running alongside very steady DVD quality the next. Clarity highlights would include - - Noah Emmerich's sea of freckles as he's interviewed in the opening credits - he plays Marlon who is supposedly Truman's best friend - always turning up with a "Brewsky" whenever there's a problem (they actually cake and paste Noah's face with make up to cover up his freckles in later shots). There are the pearls on Sylvia's wrist in the library when Truman and her finally talk, the "How Does It All End?" button on her cardigan - stunning clarity. There's Truman digging the garden in his horrible orange pants as his wife stops on her bicycle for a little product-placement (played superbly by Laura Linney)...
"Look Truman! Chef's Pal! It's a Grater, Dicer and Peeler all in one!"
You also notice the actors who went on to be huge stars, Paul Giamatti as Christof's technical sidekick, Peter Krause from Six Feet Under and Dirty Sexy Money as one of the suits in Truman's office and of course the ethereal beauty of Natasha McElhone who has eyes clinically proven to be deeper than the Pacific Ocean.
Harry Shearer is in there too doing a fantastic turn as the appeasing interviewer Mike Michaelson. There's the crass reintroduction of Truman's dead father, which is being choreographed live by manipulative experts in the overhanging control room (quote above). But the trump card is the last minute cast appointment of Ed Harris as the show's all-powerful creator - the aptly named Christof. Harris is simply magnificent (nominated for an Oscar) all serene and quietly spoken one moment - but dictatorial the next when his little money-making baby and power trip start to get challenged by an unexpectedly spunky Truman - a man Christof's personally trained to be scared of certain things so he won't ever leave Seahaven...
The two extras are the same as the Special Edition DVD - so a little disappointing there. But that's minor compared to how good the whole film looks on BLU RAY and especially how amazingly well it still stands up - a modern day masterpiece. And the scenes where Truman stops the bus in defiance and where he battles the storm on his boat trying to break free brought tears to my eyes - fabulous stuff.
"You can't get any away further away before you start coming back..." Truman says to Marlon about Fiji where his longed-for love Sylvia is.
It's slightly disconcerting to find a movie character spouting such wisdom, because in 2009, our entire world feels like one big screwed up reality show that can only end badly...
What a film! And a triumph on Blu Ray - recommended.
on 6 September 2013
One of my fave movies, can never get tired of watching it. I got this for my brother who is a Carrey fan but has never seen this movie, being more into his sillier stuff I wandered if he would like it, but he says it's great.
on 7 November 2011
My youngest son and his friend had been down for the weekend and we'd got talking about 'The Truman Show' which they'd never seen. To my surprise, they were really interested in the plot and I ended up telling them pretty much the whole story all the way up the M5! I bought this 2nd hand for them on the back of that conversation. He and his mate watched it together this weekend and I got a text saying how much they enjoyed it.
That's a long-winded way of saying "How bloody great that you can go online, find the film, order it and have it delivered and make two kids happy - all for £2.70". Absolute bargain.
on 14 August 2015
The Truman Show (1998) is an impressive piece of work, constantly on the verge of tumbling into ridiculousness but never losing its footing at all. It is written ambitiously by Andrew Niccol, and directed with a very confident hand by Peter Weir. This review is based on the Special Collector's Edition DVD. The features included in this release seem a little slender to justify the 'Special' label (and I would very much have welcomed a commentary), but they are still very interesting if you are engaged by the thinking behind such a creation. I'll outline why I think so, below.
The film itself is a steadily-paced entertainment constantly bubbling with a gentle humour arising mostly from Jim Carrey's performance as the only man in town who doesn't know (as the film shows us from the first frames) that he is under the constant scrutiny of 5,000 hidden cameras. In this amiable, lightly science fictional fashion The Truman Show provokes sensible thoughts about contemporary 'media' issues, just as Niccol would soon do again (almost as successfully) in writing the Al Pacino science fiction comedy S1m0ne (2002), having already demonstrated an accomplished command of conscientious science fiction in general by writing the darker (but also wonderful) Gattaca (1997).
The Truman Show gave us unmistakeable confirmation that Carrey really is a gifted and moving leading actor, and not just a nuclear-powered funnyman. First seeing it was rather like discovering Steve Martin's fuller range in L.A. Story (1991), or Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society (1989), and it set the stage grandly for Carrey's closely imminent tragicomic tour de force in Man on the Moon (1999).
Other performances here are also perfectly poised, in the face of a script that could easily have provoked general-purpose mugging and assorted archness. We can even believe in the strained and rather improbable infiltrator (played with conviction by Natascha McElhone) who tries to open Truman's eyes to the artifice all around him. The never-sufficiently-praised Ed Harris quietly and solidly conveys the artistic-yet-commercial presence of this entire world's architect, as if nothing could be more obvious or natural. All of this is testament to this script's unflinchingly consistent tone, and to Weir's unerringly even and purposeful direction.
For the whole film, Carrey hovers at the brink of self-parody as Truman Burbank, a man who is relentlessly =nice= because he has unknowingly spent his entire life cossetted in the world's biggest soundstage. From his lifelong best friend to the most casual passer-by (with one or two exceptions that were fixed too quickly for him to notice), everyone he has ever encountered is a studio employee. In one sense, therefore, almost nothing really =happens= in most of this story as we are guided around the delightful Seahaven (set in the real and perfect northern-Florida location of Seaside, incidentally).
Truman proceeds through his nice, nice life, surrounded by very conveniently-placed products (to which it is normal for everyone to refer, regularly and specifically), and just dimly starts to wonder where the boundaries of his world might really lie—e.g. when he is nearly hit by 'Sirius', a labelled stage light having come loose and plummetted from the stellar dome a mile overhead. In the end Truman's journey is to some extent physically demanding, but primarily it is emotionally heroic. I admire the way this film sneakily gets us to root for Truman, right on a level with his none-too-clever global audience within the story. It is almost as if TV audiences everywhere might have some kind of arguable but seldom-recognised obligation to the people who perform for their sedentary pleasure...
The Truman Show looks gorgeous from start to finish, taking advantage of its basic gag (every moment of everything is meticulously set-designed, and lovingly overlit) to deliver a seamless series of beguiling images. The location of Seaside is a perfect foundation for this, also permitting the makers to apply indistinguishably effective CGI effects without overtaxing the available techniques of the day.
And the film's careful design is also reflected also in its soundtrack. My personal favourite moments here involve the various inclusions of Philip Glass... but part of the reason for those working so well is their contrast with other interludes.
Another reason for my loving The Truman Show is that as A Good Film it is an excellent amabassador for science fiction done well. Science fiction is almost never really =about= science, or the future, or that kind of thing, although very many poor stories and less-informed critics proceed as if it should be. In fact, in interviews here even the director seems to tihnk that The Truman Show merely comes close to being sf, in its depicted departure from real current practices. In truth, effective sf is always (however ineptly at times) a look at our real lives, from a strange angle and employing some appropriately plausible exaggeration. The Truman Show is far from inept. It had its finger very much on the pulse of what in 1998 was evolving towards today's reality-TV juggernaut. In its conception of audiences with vicarious or imitative lives it is still current today. I had to concentrate to realise that the film includes no explicit sense of the 24/7 culture of online access to which we have now become accustomed... because in spirit it also gets that general public attitude across perfectly.
Those extras, then...
The main draw is 'How's It Going To End? The Making of The Truman Show', a 42-minute documentary that has for some reason been split into two parts. I don't want to go into any detail here, just to reassure anyone interested enough to watch this that they won't be disappointed. This isn't the all-too-common self-congratulatory fluff, but a real insight into the effort to realise such a demanding story with such a disarmingly light surface.
'Faux Finishing: the Visual Effects of The Truman Show' is a remarkable little feature (13 mins), efficiently documenting an amazingly prescient process of achieving the film's art-directed hyperreality, in the early days of photorealistic computer compositing. This is a brief but splendid little gift for those interested in recent developments in technical filmmaking. I would say that there is just =one= moment in the film when (simply due to sheer visual scale) an inquisitive viewer =must= assume that the image involves some kind of (physical or digital) matte. This little offering, however, gives an idea of the technical expertise that was quietly applied to seamlessly refining many, many areas of The Truman Show.
The two trailers are really masterful little films in themselves, cheerfully giving away the film's entire setup and dragging potential viewers into a kind of predictively voyeuristic relationship with Truman Burbank. Rather sneakily, they confirm the film's =point= as being our own reaction to looking-in for our own pleasure on a fabrication—which in this case begins to gain a sense of its own absurdity.
The (two, brief) TV spots neatly convey the sense of =performance= pervading the entire film. Not everyone will be interested in this, but I like them.
The deleted and extended scenes are very interesting, although I can see why their removal served the refinement of this film into the economical thing that it is. Presumably that is why these particular sequences are included here, when many other candidates must also have found their way to the cutting-room floor: here we get to see to see footage whose exclusion helps us to understand how the film was honed into its final shape. For example, a sequence showing a meeting conveys a level commercial cynicism that I suspect was regarded as too gratingly chilling for the desired overall tone. As the film stands, in questioning his lovely surroundings Truman bootstraps himself into a degree of philosophical insight and the chance of some kind of new beginning. With this sequence included, we would also have a distracting sense of him having actually =escaped= from something pretty dark... or perhaps of his having escaped =into= a much more horrible world than the one otherwise represented in the film.
The photo gallery is not rivetting, but at least it is mercifully brief (40 or so images). It does include a few absolutely lovely captures of the exquisite scene-setting, but quite honestly the world can get by without all the other shots of some actors posing (it happens to be in the nature of this particular film that we already have quite a lot of that anyway), and director and crew holding things (or pointing... or just =looking=). I presume that the simulated lens flare intruding on every image is intended to deter theft. It aggravatingly spoils even the interesting shots, and I don't see why anyone would want to steal these images anyway, or what harm they might inflict by doing so.
This DVD comes in a smart, slim gatefold card cover, with a moderately pointless but still appealing plastic sleeve. The cover is decorated internally with a couple of large, reassuring shots, which might be a kind of extra bonus, since I recognise one of them from the photo gallery, but neither from the film as released. A new copy of this 'Special' release would make an elegant little gift for a fan of the film.
Truman Burbank is your average American. He's an insurance salesman happily married to his college sweetheart. What he doesn't realize, however, is that his world is fake. Every minute of his life has been filmed and broadcast to the rest of the world, and everyone he knows are really actors hired to fill his life. But when his carefully constructed world begins to fall apart, will he discover the truth and escape to the real world?
I am not a big Jim Carrey fan. Here, however, he gives an outstanding performance as the happy Truman who begins to realize something's not right. The story itself is part funny, part touching drama that draws you in and makes you root for Truman to learn the truth. I've watched the movie many times, and I always feel like cheering at the end. Along the way, it makes you think about our entertainment-obsessed culture in a different way.
The DVD is a bare bones offering. Beside the movie, it only offers the trailers. Still, the picture quality and sound are good.
Jim Carrey proves he can do drama quite well in this moving film. Anyone looking for a movie to entertain and lift their spirits should definitely check this one out. It's one of the best movies of the last few years.
on 2 January 2001
"The Truman Show" is a great film about a man brought up in an artificial world created specifically for a TV audience. Everyone around him is an extra or a character on the set, including his wife and his best friend. The story has echoes of the tale of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, created by a vengeful God. Ok, it might be stretching a metaphor too far, but Truman is initially given the truth about his state by a disgruntled female extra whom he subsequently falls in love with. The process of disillusionment is gradual. The final denoument is brilliant, with Truman asking a disembodied voice the penultimate and ultimate questions of life," Who are you?" "I am the Creator...of a TV show" answers Christof (Ed Harris at his best); "Then, who am I?" "You are the Star". Given the choice between the uncertainty of the outside and the security of his controlled environment, Truman chooses life as a human being. The film also manages to encapsulate the dilemma faced by parents and their growing children, particularly in strongly hierarchical families. This one should have won Oscars.
I must admit I find it rather odd that Peter Weir's 1998 film (written by New Zealander Andrew Niccol) has been criticised for not being 'funny enough' since, as far as I can deduce, that was one of its 'least' objectives. Indeed, the current Wiki entry for the film describes it (in typical 'mish-mash' fashion) as a `satirical social science-fiction comedy drama' (oh, for the need to pigeon-hole!). Instead, I still find the film's tale of Jim Carrey's 'insurance salesman' Truman Burbank, trapped in Ed Harris' 'god-like' Christof's reality TV set, one of the most perceptive takes on a whole host of current (and pertinent) social issues, including (of course) the impact of reality TV (interestingly, Big Brother was not to hit UK TV screens until two years after Weir's film was made), the alienating and entrapping effect of western consumer society, the all-pervading power of corporatism, paranoid schizophrenia, totalitarian regimes, indoctrination and 'the surveillance society' and (ironically) even the potentially manipulative effects of cinema. In effect, The Truman Show is like a (satirical) amalgam of reality TV shows like Big Brother and the 1960s TV show The Prisoner, and has been highly influential on subsequent film and TV drama, notably Charlie Brooker's recent (and frequently brilliant) series of TV dramas, Black Mirror.
For me, therefore, the principal strength of Weir's film lies in its central concept. That said, however, Weir has done a great job in its (potentially tricky) transference to the big screen. The 'groundhog day'-like nature of the idyllic Seahaven setting is brilliantly done, shot through the claustrophobic, 'circular prism' of cinematographer Peter Biziou's camera. Similarly, Weir's idea of giving us glimpses of both Christof's control room for the show, plus (in particular) its effect on the viewing public is one of the film's masterstrokes (reminding me of another great film with similar themes, Sidney Lumet's Network).
Cast-wise, Weir's film is just about flawless. Although Carrey, at times, (for me) slightly overdoes the wackiness in the role, his nervous paranoia as he increasingly realises his predicament is brilliantly convincing, placing this performance up with that in Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind as his top 'serious' turn. Laura Linney is, as ever, equally good as Truman's duplicitous, but saccharine-sweet, 'wife' Meryl (a role this actress probably does better than anyone), whilst Noah Emmerich's turn as Truman's longest-standing 'friend' Marlon is, if anything, even better. Harris is typically reliable as the patriarchal megalomaniac and controller, whilst also impressive is a 'young' Paul Giamatti in an early role as Christof's control room sidekick.
The Truman Show is a film that, for me, has lasting power and resonance.
on 17 March 2016
Great movie. Fitting soundtrack, a few funny moments but mostly just a warm hearted movie with a tiny bite of reality (show) thrown into the mix. Jim Carrey gives an outstanding performance as does Ed Harris. All good.