Study Questions: The Truman Show

The_Truman_ShowDiscussion Questions for Peter Weir’s The Truman Show (1998)

Discuss the significance of Seahaven as a constructed world by relating it to the quotes below:

The media do not offer a transparent window on the world. They provide channels through which representations and images of the world can be communicated indirectly. The media intervene: they provide us with selective versions of the world, rather than direct access to it. (David Buckingham in Media Education, p. 3, 2004, Polity Press)

The media are major industries, generating profit and employment; they provide us with most of our information about the political process; and they offer us ideas, images and representations (both factual and fictional) that inevitably shape our view of reality. (David Buckingham in Media Education, p. 5, 2004, Polity Press)

The media are embedded in the textures and routines of everyday life; and they provide many of the symbolic resources we use to conduct and interpret our relationships and to define our identities. (David Buckingham in Media Education, p. 5, 2004, Polity Press)

Comment on the following statement from Christof:

“We’ve become bored with watching actors give us phoney emotions. We’re tired of pyrotechnics and special effects. While the world he inhabits is, in some respects, counterfeit, there is nothing fake about Truman himself. No scripts, no cue cards. It isn’t always Shakespeare, but it’s genuine. It’s a life.”

Discuss how the following names contribute to our understanding of the film: Seahaven, Truman, Burbank (Truman’s surname), Christof, Santa Maria (the yacht in the film)

What camera techniques are used in the scenes depicting Truman? Are there any unusual camera angles you can spot? Give some examples and discuss how they contribute to the audiences’ understanding of the story and Truman.

What camera techniques are used in the scenes depicting Christof? Give some examples and discuss how they contribute to the audiences’ understanding of the story and Christof.

What does Christof’s lunar control room represent in the film?

Discuss the following quote by relating it to Truman:

Television, with insatiable hunger for material, has made celebrities into content.
Roger Ebert, 1998, Chicago Sun-Times.

What does Truman’s escape to sea signify?

According to Robert Castle (2005, Bright Lights Film Journal, Issue 49), The Truman Show demonstrates an individual’s struggle to gain his true Self. Comment on what the role of media could be in causing an individual to not know his true Self. Do you believe that audiences are so weak that they are unable to resist the power of media? Are they empty vessels easily manipulated by the media?

How does the film view audiences in general? Does it consider audiences a homogenous or a diverse body? Does it stereotype audiences? Discuss.

In the film Christof says “We accept the reality which we are presented.” To what extent do you agree with Christof?

Comment on the following quote from the film:
Christof: “He could leave at any time. If this were anything more than a vague ambition, if he was absolutely determined to discover the truth, there is no way we could prevent him.”

Comment on the following quote by relating to the film: “The unexamined life is not worth living” (Socrates) – Updated February 2013

© Ali Nihat Eken, İstanbul, 2007