Episode 6: The Truman Show and how to do sh*t in film
Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide
No escape from reality
The Truman Show is truly one of the most fascinating films I have ever seen. From the very premise, the story of a guy whose entire life has been a TV show, to the entire execution of the film, The Truman Show is indeed a great idea executed amazingly. But the question arises, how does it do that? The director, Peter Weir, and writer, Andrew Niccol, have the mammoth task of making us believe in such an unusual world. Well, let’s just try to answer how they do it.
Wanna Make People Believe?
The Subtle Art of Perspective.
One of the biggest problems that directors often face is how to make the audience completely immersed into the world that they have created. How do you completely believe this weird-ass sh*t the director is presenting to you?
One of the best ways to do so might even be the most obvious. It requires the director to use the simplest tool at his disposal:
Ah the Film Camera, so majestic
This simple yet complicated tool can completely change the perspective of any film. Take E.T. Extraterrestrial as an example. As the entire film is from the perspective of a young child, the entire film is deliberately shot from a low angle shot. Like in this scene
The height of the camera is kept low to, in a way, put us in the shoes of the main character
To give a more recent popular example, consider Gully Boy. The film is a rags-to-riches story, or more explicitly from the slum of Dharavi to the high rise apartments of Mumbai. But how do you immerse the audience in this environment? The camera. When we are in Dharavi, most of the shots are tight close-ups of the characters. This makes us feel the claustrophobia the characters go through in those tight surroundings.
Tight close-up shots during the scenes in Dharavi
But as soon as we come out into the city, we see wide-angle shots signifying the freedom that the world outside the city presents.
Wide Angle shots
Now coming to the film at hand, The Truman Show. As I said before, the film is about a guy whose entire life is actually a TV show. So how does director Peter Weir and Cinematographer Peter Biziou do this? They literally shoot it like a show.
If you see the film carefully, you can notice that quite a large chunk of the film is shot like it is shot from CCTV cameras or hidden cameras, just like it would be in a reality tv show.