The Truman Show is a 1998 American drama film directed by Peter Weir and written by Andrew Niccol. The cast includes Jim Carrey as Truman Burbank, as well as Laura Linney, Noah Emmerich, Ed Harris and Natascha McElhone. The film chronicles the life of a man who discovers he is living in a constructed reality soap opera, televised 24/7 to billions of people across the globe. The genesis of The Truman Show was a spec script by Niccol. The original draft was more in tone of a science fiction thriller, with the story set in New York City. Scott Rudin purchased the script, and instantly set the project up at Paramount Pictures. Brian de Palma was in contention to direct before Weir took over, managing to make the film for $60 million against the estimated $80 million budget. Niccol rewrote the script simultaneously as the filmmakers were waiting for Carrey's schedule to open up for filming. The majority of filming took place at Seaside, Florida, a master-planned community located in the Florida Panhandle. The film was a financial and critical success, and earned numerous nominations at the 71st Academy Awards, 56th Golden Globe Awards, 52nd British Academy Film Awards and The Saturn Awards. The Truman Show has been analyzed as a thesis on Christianity, simulated reality, existentialism and the forthcoming rise of reality television.
The movie is framed around the television show "The Truman Show." Its main character, Truman Burbank, has lived his entire life since before birth in front of cameras for the show, though he himself is unaware of this fact. Truman's life is filmed through thousands of hidden cameras, 24 hours a day and broadcast live around the world, allowing executive producer Christof to capture Truman's real emotion and human behavior when put in certain situations. Truman's hometown of Seahaven is a complete set built under a giant dome and populated by the show's actors and crew, allowing Christof to control every aspect of Truman's life, even the weather. To prevent Truman from discovering his false reality, Christof has invented means of dissuading his sense of exploration, including "killing" his father in a storm while on a fishing trip to instill in him a fear of the water, and making many news reports and 'adverts' about the dangers of travelling, and featuring television shows about how good it is to stay at home. However, despite Christof's control, Truman has managed to behave in unexpected manners, in particular falling in love with an extra, Sylvia, instead of Meryl, the actress intended to be his wife. Though Sylvia is removed from the set quickly, her memory still resonates with him, and he secretly thinks of her outside of his marriage to Meryl. Sylvia subsequently starts a "Free Truman" campaign that fights to have Truman freed from the show. In the film's present, during the 30th year "The Truman Show" has been on the air, Truman discovers facts that seem out of place, such as a spotlight from the artificial night sky constellations that nearly hits him (quickly passed off by local radio as an airplane's dislodged landing light) and a "Truman Show" crew conversation on his car radio that is describing his morning commute into work. These events are punctuated by the reappearance of Truman's father, supposedly "dead," onto the set, at first dressed as a hobo. All of this causes Truman to start wondering about his life, realizing much of the town seems to revolve around him. Stress on Meryl to continue her role in spite of Truman's increasing skepticism and attendant hostility causes their marriage to unravel. Truman seeks to get away from Seahaven but is blocked by the inability to arrange for flights, bus breakdowns, sudden masses of traffic, and an apparent nuclear meltdown. After Meryl breaks down and is taken off the show, Christof officially brings back Truman's father, hoping his presence will keep Truman from trying to leave. However, he only provides a temporary respite: Truman soon becomes isolated and begins staying alone in his basement after Meryl "leaves" him. One night, Truman manages to escape the basement undetected via a secret tunnel, forcing Christof to temporarily suspend broadcasting of the show for the first time in its history. This causes a surge in viewership, with many viewers, including Sylvia, cheering on Truman's escape attempt. Christof orders every actor and crew member to search the town, breaking the town's daylight cycle to help in the search. They find that Truman has managed to overcome his fear of the water and has been sailing away from the town in a small boat named Santa Maria (the name of the ship in which Christopher Columbus discovered the New World). After restoring the broadcast, Christof orders the show's crew to create a large storm to try to capsize the boat. However, Truman's determination eventually leads Christof to terminate the storm. As Truman recovers, the boat reaches the edge of the dome, its bow piercing through the dome's painted sky. An awe-struck Truman then discovers a flight of stairs nearby, leading to a door marked "EXIT". As he contemplates leaving his world, Christof speaks directly to Truman via a powerful sound system, trying to persuade him to stay and arguing that there is no more truth in the real world than there is in his own, artificial world. Truman, after a moment's thought, delivers his catchphrase, "In case I don't see you ... good afternoon, good evening, and good night," bows to his audience, and steps through the door and into the real world. The assembled television viewers excitedly celebrate Truman's escape, and Sylvia quickly leaves her apartment to reunite with him. A network executive orders the crew to cease transmission. With the show completed, members of Truman's former audience are shown looking for something else to watch.