In the film, Truman Show by Peter Weir, the director used a variety of visual and verbal techniques to develop the character Truman Burbank. Wier used the movement of actors, dialogue, props and symbolism to show how Truman progressed from being a typical all-American guy to a courageous man who’s willing to face his fears to break free from the chains that binds him to his ‘creator. ‘ Truman Burbank is a star of his own show- The Truman Show- and everybody knows except him. He lives in the best place in the world, Seahaven, where the people are always friendly and well-dressed.
The houses they live in are painted to perfection with well-tended gardens. Here, Truman lives a seemingly perfect life with his beautiful wife, Meryl, and reliable friend, Marlon. As events unfold, Weir shows the audience how Truman is actually unsatisfied with his life- he feels trapped in his marriage and restricted with his job. He yearns for an adventure and dreams of finding Sylvia, his true love. Weir used dialogue and movement of actors to establish for the viewers what Truman is like in the beginning. The start of the film shows him acting out a role of a brave explorer in front of a mirror, saying: ‘Eat me dammit!
That’s an order! ‘ Because he doesn’t have enough excitement in his life and Seahaven is not offering him the challenge he wants, he tries to make up for it by imagining a different life. He’s also constantly tells his best friend, Marlon that he’s ‘thinking of getting out’ and is ‘going away for a while. ‘ But interestingly enough, even with a great desire of getting out, Truman never tries his hardest to leave Seahaven. Weir used Cristof’s dialogue to show this: ‘If it was more than just a vague ambition, if he [Truman] was absolutely determined to discover the truth, there’s no way we could prevent him. In this stage of the story, Weir shows that Truman is far from being a courageous man. To make sure Truman can’t and won’t leave, Cristof, the director of The Truman Show television program, used props and dialogue. After Truman’s father died in the sea, he developed fear of water. When he came close to finding out that he’s father is really alive his mother told him: ‘I know you feel bad about what happened… I’ve never blame you Truman. ‘ They used his guilt to dismiss his suspicion. They also tried to make him ride a ferry to remind him of his fear when he tries to find Sylvia.
When he tried to ride a plane to Fiji to continue looking for her, posters all around talks about the perils of flying to scare him were in the travel agency. A newspaper about Seahaven being the best place int he world is also shown and a movie called “Shome Me the Way to Go Home” was played on the tv to urge him to stay. Weir used all of these to show the audience that Truman might be slowly changing as he realize that the world he’s living in, is not the only one out there. He can leave and lead the life he wants.
Truman’s character started to develop when he begins to find out that he’s actually the star of his own show. Weir used movement of the actors to show how Truman progressed from being the go-with-the-flow-type of guy to a rebel. He acts inappropriately and doesn’t think of the conseuences when he drives recklessly around the roundabout and reverses dangerously to get out of the traffic jam. Then, in a desperate attempt to leave Seahaven, he tried to overcome his fear of water by closing his eyes while speeding over the bridge, drives through a fire and even tried to go into a supposedly contaminated forrest.
Later, he sailed in the sea through the storm and screamed at the top of his lungs: ‘Is that the best you can do? You’re gonna have to kill me! ‘ Weir shows how much Truman, who only talk the talk, has progressed to walking the walk. He’s finally doing something to get what he wants and he’s giving his all. Truman’s name has been used by Weir to symbolise how he is a ‘true man’ amidst all the actors in Seahaven. He’s been likened to Adam, the first man on the paradise. Adam’s life story had become a summary of his.
Adam left the paradise, Eden, after eating the forbidden truth of knowledge the same way Truman left his paradise, Seahaven, after learning the truth of his life. However, unlike God, Cristof wanted Truman to stay in Seahaven because it’s ‘the way the world should be. ‘ The ending of the film had left the minds of the audience in a state of confusion and mixed emotions. Cristof urges Truman to stay, telling him: Truman, there’s no more truth out there than in the world I created for you – the same lies and deceit. But in my world you have nothing to fear. The audience are torn between supporting Truman in his long awaited new life or wishing him to stay in Seahaven were they can watch him and be part of his life. Truman’s answer had also likened him to being the second Adam- to being Jesus Christ who sacrificed himself and is ressurected to a new life as Truman sacrificed his seemingly perfect world where his life is controlled for the ‘sick place’ where he has freedom. Symbolism was used to show the audience how courageous and heroic Truman is. In conclusion, Weir used dialogue, movement of actors, props and symbolism to develop the character, truman Burbank.
In all of the characters in the film, only Truman showed a change in character. He was always wishing to get out of Seahaven, yearning for an adventure and a new life. But he never did anything to do it; he let his fears and uncertainty to get the best of him. He chose to continue living in his seemingly perfect world. But as he see how far from perfect his life and whole world is, he summoned all his courage and began to rebel. He broke free from the chains that Cristof tied him to and truly became a courageous and heroic man.