As viewers of The Truman Show we soon begin to be aware that Truman does not know he is being spied on and is the main character of a voyeuristic television program that is viewed around the world. At the beginning of the film we see the creator and the actors discuss the show as part of a documentary. Christof proudly explains that the show is “genuine”. He tells us that the audience love it because “we’ve become bored with actors giving us phony emotions”. The actors who play Meryl and Marlon back him up and tell us that “there is no difference between a public life and a private life” and that “nothing you see on this show is fake. It’s merely controlled”.
These words are of course, undermined by Truman’s discovery that his whole life is a creation. He finds out that he has been li
ed to and manipulated by everyone he knows. And and that the media has filmed nearly everything he has ever said or done.
As we have discussed, one of the first clues given to the audience that Truman’s reality is contrived is the use of frames within frames. The director also uses lots of reflected images and mirrors to suggest illusion. The very obvious manipulation of Truman for product placement in advertising also hints that this is not reality but a television show. There are many shots that indicate hidden cameras and they of course suggest surveillance. Often it is the eyes of the characters that give away when they are acting and when they are experiencing real emotions (Meryl is a good character to look at for this).
What are other clues given to Truman and the audience that his reality is contrived?