How is freedom explored in The Truman Show? What techniques are used to portray this? 

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Truman Show uses the technique of dramatic irony to explore freedom. Dramatic irony occurs when the audience knows something a character or characters in a movie or play don't know. We as the movie audience know that Truman is the star of a reality TV show that has gone...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

The Truman Show uses the technique of dramatic irony to explore freedom. Dramatic irony occurs when the audience knows something a character or characters in a movie or play don't know. We as the movie audience know that Truman is the star of a reality TV show that has gone on his whole life, but he is unaware of this. In fact, the rest of the people in his life—the cast of the show—know they are acting roles for cameras, but Truman does not understand the true limitations of his existence. Because of this and because his life is dictated and controlled by Christof, Truman is not free.

Since we know what Truman's situation is, we are on his side, rooting for him to be free. We know that the inconsistencies and oddities he begins to notice about his life are real. The film uses the technique of making him a sympathetic character whose struggles—particularly to just figure out what is going on—we identify with.

The film also uses the motif of freedom as a struggle and journey, especially with Truman battling his fears of water at the end and fighting through a storm to break free, to illustrate that freedom doesn't come easily. His battle with the storm at the end dramatizes and externalizes his personal struggle to free himself.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

One of the techniques used to bring out the discussion of freedom is the dialogue.  The script does not miss opportunities to inject the freedom concept throughout the film.  Consider Chrystof's opening to the film that fundamentally challenges us and the entire concept of freedom to its core: "We accept the reality of the world with which we are presented."  The use of this line as the opening of the film helps to establish the fundamental paradigm that Truman and the audience must accept as the film progresses.

Other moments in which the script incorporates the issue of freedom are seen throughout.  The teacher who tells Truman that he cannot be an explorer "like the Great Magellan" because "everything is already discovered," the fact that the actors and even the sun do not act spontaneously, but rather "on cue," and the closing dialogue between Truman and "the creator" are aspects of scriptwriting being able to illuminate the condition of freedom throughout the film.  The script becomes the means by which freedom is explored in the film.

Cinematography is another example of how freedom is explored in the film.  For example, the ship scene is where the camera shots depict the harrowing condition of freedom and cut backs to the control room where imprisonment exists.  Truman battling the waves and water that the control room imposes on him represents the challenge of freedom.  The elements of the control room embody the obstacles that stand in our acknowledgement of freedom and cutting back between both realms is a reminder that freedom is always poised against that which seeks to take it away.  The use of Kilar's score from "Father Kolbe's Preaching" at the end of the film is another example of how freedom is explored.  When Truman realizes that he has reached the end of the journey, there is no dialogue or sound except for the brief moment of vocal recognition from Truman and Kilar's score in the background.  The music of melancholy triumph contrasts with Truman beating the walls with his fists.  We hear no sound. We only see what freedom looks like:  The struggle to transform what is into what can be.  It is Weir's genius to let this "moment" speak through music and action and not ruin it with language.  This is another technique used to portray the exploration of freedom in the film.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team