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Describe either a realistic or unrealistic setting in the text. Explain how the realism or unreality of this setting helped you to understand a particular idea.
An unrealistic setting in Peter Weir’s, ‘The Truman Show’ is the faux town of Seahaven ( a gigantic man made dome with thousands of CCTV cameras where Truman, the main character “lives” for the entertainment of others. ) The unreality of this setting helped me to understand the idea of surveillance and social control. Weir does this by cleverly using numerous film techniques such as camera angles, dialogue, voiceovers, and mise-en-scene.
Peter Weird directed, ‘The Truman Show’ in 1998 when reality TV was a relatively new concept. ‘The Truman Show’ follows the life of Truman Burbank, an ordinary man living in an ordinary town. In reality, Truman’s life is a fake one. The place where Truman lives is actually one big TV set in dome form - with thousands of cameras everywhere. The people around him - including his family and friends, are all actors. Truman’s life is one big TV show, which is broadcasted to millions. This reflects on real life society where we are all closely being monitored and surveilled all the time.
Firstly, an unrealistic setting in Peter Weir’s, ‘The Truman Show’ is the town of Seahaven. Seahaven may look like a fantastic town - a Utopia even. However, it is all fake. There is a zoom-out shot that shows a massive dome ( where Seahaven is ) from space. Seahaven looks wonderful up close but when looking at the bigger picture, it is actually revealed to be a prison. This setting helped me to understand the idea of surveillance and social control because Truman cannot escape the cameras, he is always being watched, and controlled by Christof ( the show’s manic and obsessive creator and director ) who watches everything from the TV studio.
Secondly, the setting of Seahaven is unrealistic, and this is shown through the use of a close-up shot of a newspaper with the headline, ‘The best place on Earth, Seahaven voted planet’s top town’. This is a blatant lie and a prop to convince Truman that the place he lives in is the best, and that he should never leave. This setting helped me to understand the idea of surveillance and social control, because Christof has specifically placed that newspaper in the stall where Truman buys newspapers each day, to manipulate his thoughts and feelings about Seahaven. Christof is determined to keep Truman on the island, and does this by subtly tricking him into wanting to stay in Seahaven. Christof is controlling Truman’s thoughts and ideas.
Furthermore, the setting of Seahaven is unrealistic and this is shown through the use of dialogue on the TV that Truman is watching, “and there will be another episode of I Love Lucy, same time tomorrow”. ‘I Love Lucy’ was a TV show from the 1950s - America’s “golden decade”, which was the post World War 2 boom. The 1950s are seen as the ideal time to have lived so it would make sense for the producer’s of the ‘Truman Show’ to give Truman’s life a 1950s feel - because it would appeal to viewers and Truman himself. This setting helped me to understand the idea of surveillance and social control because ‘I Love Lucy’ was a sitcom based in a small happy town where people always had a good time with friends. This is putting the idea in Truman’s head that small towns are the best and he should never leave. Truman’s ideas of Seahaven are once again being subtly controlled.
Moreover, the setting of Seahaven is unrealistic and this is shown during an interview with Christof. There is a voiceover that says, “The designer and architect of the world within a world that is Seahaven Island - Christof”. Seahaven is an enclosed dome that shuts out the real world. It is a fake world where Truman is housed and watched by millions. This setting helped me to understand the idea of surveillance and social control, because Truman is always being watched and controlled by viewers and producers because he is stuck in a giant dome.
Finally, the setting of Seahaven is unrealistic because of all the bright, colourful and appealing products used on the show. The show’s producers are making money from the ‘Truman Show’ through the use of advertising/mise-en-scene - product placement. The clothes, food, and products on the show are all for sale, so if a viewer sees something they like, they can actually buy it. This is that way that the producers make profit. This setting helped me to understand the idea of surveillance and social control because the viewers are influenced and subtly controlled to buy products that they see on the ‘Truman Show’.
The unrealistic setting of the town of Seahaven in Peter Weir’s, ‘The Truman Show’ reveals the idea of surveillance and control and reflects on real life society. Wherever we go, we are closely monitored and watched all the time; through security cameras at the shops, banks, and even schools. At my school, there are a lot of CCTV cameras that watch everyone closely, no one can get away with anything. We are also being watched through social media. All of our messages, data, photos and what we “double tap” on, are being closely monitored. We are influenced greatly by what we see on social media - this is social control. Peter Weir teaches the viewers that no matter where we are or what we do, we are always being surveilled and controlled indirectly.
In conclusion, an unrealistic setting in Peter Weir’s, ‘The Truman Show’ is the faux town of Seahaven. The unreality of this setting helped me to understand the idea of surveillance and control through the use of a zoom-out shot, close-up shot, dialogue, voiceover, and mise-en-scene. Peter Weir teaches the viewers that Truman is a product of social control, and so are we as a society if we’re not careful.