- Describe at least one important technique used in the written text.
Explain how this technique helped you to understand one or more key ideas.
“My life is like the Truman show.” This is a simile that can be often heard in philosophical conversations, and is referencing Peter Weir’s film, The Truman show. An important idea in this 1998 film is the idea that truth is subjective, which can be linked to real life, and to Plato’s Allegory of the Cave This is shown throughout the text, using various language techniques, including dramatic irony, symbolism, and colour & lighting.
In the exposition, Weir introduces the idea that reality is subjective, through the use of dramatic irony. An example of this is the fake credits at the start of the film, introducing Truman Burbank as himself. In this example, Weir is showing the audience fake credits at the start of a fake film about someone living a fake life. This introduces the idea by confusing what is real with what is simulated, and therefore challenged my thinking by subverting film convention. Another example that Weir has used to build on this idea in the exposition, is the word LIVE on shots of Truman that other characters are watching. This adds to the idea, as it illustrates how in our desperation for something real, we ironically create simulations of reality that are in the end not real at all. This challenged my thinking, as I realized that these simulations become the new “Normal,” and anything else seems unusual. The idea that reality is subjective is an important idea in the film, as the key illustrating points in the exposition can be linked to Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. The people in the cave have created the shadows to be real to them as they have never know differently, like how Truman perceives his “fake” life to be real as it is what he has been shown to be “normal.”
After Weir has introduced us to the idea that truth is subjective in the exposition, he continues to develop this idea into the film during the turning point, through symbolism. An example of this is the red in Sylvia’s cardigan that symbolizes warning and truth. Since red is traditionally a warning colour, the recollection of memories of Sylvia could act as a red flag to Truman, foreshadowing the fact that he could be deceiving himself. This highlights the idea that truth is subjective, as it represents Truman’s quest for truth in a postmodern world. Another example in the turning point where Weir builds on this idea, is when Truman pieces together parts of magazines to recreate Sylvia’s face. This helps convey the idea, as it represents piecing together objective information in the outside world to make meaning of a subjective world of simulation. This challenged my thinking as it relates to real life in the way that while truth may be subjective, the closest we can come to it is through the ability to think for ourselves. The idea that reality is subjective is an important idea in the film, as the symbolism in the turning point can be linked to Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. While the shadows will never fully show the prisoners what the outside world would be like, piecing them together would be the closest thing to truth without actually going outside to see it, and is similar to Truman trying to piece together pictures to recreate Sylvia’s face on his quest for truth.
In addition to expressing the idea that truth is subjective in the exposition and turning point, Weir concludes the representation of this idea in the denouement through colour and lighting. An example of this is when Truman is in the boat searching for truth, and the orchestrated storm makes everything dark and grey. This represents the uncertainty of the quest, which helps demonstrates the idea as it emphasizes the blurring of the real and imagined and challenged my thinking as I wondered if the imagined is ultimately subjectively real. Another example in the denouement that Weir uses to build on the idea, is when Truman finally touches the edge of the dome. This builds on the idea as it represents how the line between reality and simulation has finally become clear and shows the audience how Truman’s previous subjective truth has now become more objective. The idea that truth is subjective is an important part of the denouement as it can yet again be linked to Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. Truman finally realizes that he is in a cave and has so much more to experience in the real world.
Throughout the text, Peter Weir has consistently been showing the audience the idea that truth is subjective. This has been expressed via various film techniques including dramatic irony, symbolism, and colour and lighting. In doing so, he is able to challenge the thinking of the audience by helping them to be able to link the subjectivity of truth to real world contexts. As stated by the Guardian, “[The Truman Show]” succeeds in persuading people to look at the world that they’re living in, and to reflect on what is being done to them.