The Truman Show (1998)
Directed by Peter Weir
The first of two Peter Weir films to make my list, and it’s the first one where my disagreement with a message of the film, doesn’t lessen my appreciation of it. I can’t live without Weir’s Truman Show because it says so perfectly that the human spirit will always be adventurous and search to achieve its dreams, pushing past the boundaries and obstacles that society sets up for it. Truman decides to set sail for Fiji, despite his entire world telling him it can’t be done, nor should it be done. In contrast to a film like Wall*E, which I think sells the human spirit a little short, I think The Truman Show is about the triumph of the human spirit.
While I agree wholeheartedly with this message, I find the film’s attempt to say that God is one of those society created obstacles (cage more precisely), to be comepletely wrong. The end of the film comes when Truman (get it, True-man) doesn’t stay in the small world that Cristof (get it, CHRIST-of) has made for him. While I disagree with that extension of the film's message, I still wholeheartedly agree with the overall message.
That this message is wrapped up in a delightful film with an incredibly entertaining premise, populated with great characters is just filler. Weir makes some great artful decisions in this film; the piano score, the decision to shoot the film primarily in the “hidden camera” format, and the inspired casting of Jim Carrey in his first truly dramatic role. There is also a great commentary on the intrusion of reality TV, but that’s really just a side story to the central theme, one which will continue to pop up on the list.
Other Essentials: The sequence where Truman discovers his world really does revolve around him and he finds out he can stop cars if he wants. The spot-on art direction of a perfectly running and looking idyllic town. The comic scenario's that ensue to try and keep Truman in town.