The Truman Show

Truman (Jim Carrey) finds the courage to escape a false reality. “Good morning, good afternoon and goodnight.”

I read FilmFreak’s review of the 90’s movie The Truman Show this week, and it got me thinking back – way back.

When word seeped out in 1997  that a movie was being made about a man trapped in a village many of us movie nuts assumed, wrongly as it turned out, that a big screen version of the cult 1960s TV show The Prisoner was coming down the line.

The Prisoner, played by Patrick McGoohan, tells the story of a British spy who resigns from the Secret Service. He drives home, is put to sleep by gas, and wakes up in The Village – an island choc-block full of disgruntled civil servants and spies who  were taken out of society [by whom we never find out] for fear they might sell their secrets.

Our hero was called Number Six – no names in The Village – and when he wasn’t looking to escape he spent his time trying to find Number One. We discovered in the final (17th) episode that he didn’t need to look too far (spoiler alert?).

Patrick McGoohan as Number Six in TV’s The Prisoner.  “I’ve resigned. I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed, or numbered! My life is my own!”

However, back in 1998 when The Truman Show was released we got a family movie that touched all the bases; it was equal part comedy,  tragedy,  adventure, and romance, plus a nod to the surveillance society we now inhabit. There was no connection withThe Prisoner (shame really).

If you haven’t seen the movie, it features the story of  Truman (Jim Carrey), a new-born baby who was adopted by a TV company. He was brought up on a huge TV set the size of a town that was covered in a dome that mimicked the sky.

Unbeknown to Truman, everyone he knows in the town; his wife, relations, friends and work mates, are paid actors and his life is broadcast 24/7 to the world via hundreds of hidden cameras and microphones.

By the time we, the movie goer, catch up with Truman he is a struggling insurance salesman, lacking self-confidence, and secretly searching for his first love – an actress who tried to tell him all was not as it seemed. She was dramatically removed from the show; but Truman can’t forget her.

We watch as Truman’s discontentment manifests; he becomes increasingly unhappy with domestic bliss, suspicious of his circumstances, seeks adventure and the girl.  Making everything work is producer Christoff (Christ?) who watches everything from the control room in the ‘Moon’.

I remember people came out of the woodwork saying the show was Hollywood’s way of  tipping humanity off that we were living under a huge dome on a flat earth. I hadn’t heard of the flat earth theory…

As for the movie, The Truman Show works on many levels and you can see into it what you will.

However, I still think there is an opportunity to put The Prisoner on the big screen – so long as it is done in keeping with the original TV series; sophisticated, thoughtful, provoking and challenging.

Number Six: Where am I?

Number Two: In the Village.

Number Six: What do you want?

Number Two: Information.

Number Six: Whose side are you on?

Number Two: That would be telling. We want information… information… information.

Number Six: You won’t get it.

Number Two: By hook or by crook, we will.

Number Six: Who are you?

Number Two: The new Number Two.

Number Six: Who is Number One?

Number Two: You are Number Six.

Number Six: I am not a number! I am a free man!

Number Two: [laughs]