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  Directed by
  Starring
  Specs
  • Widescreen 1.78:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer ( )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  Subtitles
    English
  Extras
  • Teaser trailer
  • Theatrical trailer

The Truman Show

Paramount/Paramount . R4 . COLOR . 99 mins . PG . PAL

  Feature
Contract

Good morning!

You know the drill. You're running hideously late for work, and a seeming ballet unfolds before you. Red lights at every turn, taxis, clueless drivers and that tram that pulls around the corner just in front of you and halts at every single solitary stop so that hundreds of school kids can alight or hop aboard. Of course for us it's no great cause for paranoia, it's simply that bastard Murphy and his law at play, however for others…

It is day 10909 of The Truman Show, it runs 24-hours per day on its own television channel, has legions of dedicated fans and focuses on the life of one person in particular, insurance salesman Truman Burbank. His world is a giant bubble-like set (apparently one of only two man-made structures able to be seen from space - although I believe the one about the Great Wall of China is a myth), his friends and family are all actors, 5000 cameras film his every move no matter where he goes and his entire environment is scripted and choreographed to the nth degree by a director named Christof. He is also blissfully unaware of all this...

Truman was actually the first ever legal adoption by a corporation. Unbeknownst to him he has never known privacy, as the show started whilst he was still in the womb. He is the unwitting lynchpin to an expansive marketing empire and his world is filled with product-placement, from his wife that makes the Demtel guy appear subtle, to his best friend with a six-pack of brewskis permanently glued to his hand, to the twins he runs into every morning on the way to work who ensure he's standing just in frame of a nearby billboard. His very nature has been moulded in an attempt to quash any desires he may have of wanting to leave his home of Seahaven, to the point that his actor father was disappeared at sea in full view of a young Truman, inspiring in him an utter dread of even contemplating crossing watery expanses. My, how convenient.

However the times they are a changin'. At the age of 30, like so many others he is beginning to question his life, and the seeming perfection of all that surrounds him. Regardless of the lengths Christof has resorted to in hopes of preventing it, Truman definitely harbours desires to view the world that lies outside of his seaside enclave, inspired in great part by memories of a love from his past. However of course something unusual always happens to thwart whatever attempts he may make. Whenever he comes across such an occurrence explanations are attempted via radio, TV, his supposed friend Marlon (evil bastard that he is) or through his wife, however eventually just too many of these events pique his curiosity, and his (justified) paranoia increases as he realises there's something rather fishy going on. So he does what anybody would do, he engages his wits to get to the bottom of it all...

"It feels like the whole world revolves around me somehow..."

  Video
Contract

After hearing of all the sumptuous vision emanating from local Paramount releases, and having seen the US DVD of Truman, I was really looking forward to wrapping my peepers around this. Experience should have taught me by now that expectation such as this usually meets with disappointment.

In the plus corner the local release is anamorphically enhanced, whereas the US one was not. Intriguingly ours is also presented in a different aspect ratio, that of 1.78:1 whereas the US one is much closer to being full frame. There, I said some nice things. Now for my metamorphosis into Bitchypoo…

For a film that is but three years old I think what is presented here is shameful. Icky distracting white and black specks attack sporadically throughout the entirety of the feature, there's slight picture wobble in places and colour at times varies from utterly gorgeous to quite washed out. But that's not all! You also get a number of scenes where newsreader-tie effect (I know, I know - "moire patterning", but I'll get my less nerdy term into the vernacular if it kills me) invades to great degrees, which is just another reason to despise tweed jackets, if indeed one was required.

I honestly, and I don't think not unreasonably, expected much better from this.

  Audio
Contract

Truman bursts out of the speakers in Dolby 5.1 stereo! Well, the occasional effect (the rainstorm in particular sounds fantastic) or piece of music bursts, others come with more of a pop. There isn’t a stunning amount of surround usage here, however this was never an eardrum assaulting BOOM-fest film to begin with, so that is no fault of the transfer.

What I suspect is more worthy of sticking out your index finger and point-point-pointing squarely at the Mr Music involved in bringing this disc's sound to us (and squealing "BAD Mr Music!") for though would be the occasional crackles that are heard. Not just this, but also (and especially) the scenes where hiss sits behind everything, gently undulating like the sound of waves and being very darned annoying and quite distracting. In an old film this would be understandable and forgivable, in something this recent I feel it's justifiable to have a mighty big grumble about. So I have.

The soundtrack at least is superb, and suits the film to a tee. I never would have thought myself capable of saying that about anything that Philip 'Happy! Happy! Happy!' Glass has touched before, however his work for this film sits wonderfully well, especially when combined with the other score work from Burkhard Dallwitz. It's mostly all from the orchestral or classical oeuvres, with the very rare inclusion of a more contemporary type song. T-Rex's wondrous glam-pop anthem 20th Century Boy appears during a school dance flashback, but with a twist, seeing as how it's an incredibly bizarre version featuring more-twang-than-Tamworth.

  Extras
Contract

Hmm, perhaps Paramount can redeem themselves here for a rather average effort so far? Ha! Dream on Tiny Tim…

There's a fairly shabby quality teaser trailer that features some original footage of Harry Shearer as reporter Mike Michaelson that is full screen and runs for around 1:40. At least its shabbiness is for the most part caused by its emulation of a television picture - arc up the fake scan lines and away we go. There's also the release trailer, at least presented in widescreen it has more hissing than one of Indiana Jones' worst nightmares, and is hardly in beefcake shape.

And that's it. Anybody who tries to tell me that no behind the scenes stuff was ever shot for this film, or that no specials or anything at all to promote it other than trailers were made will have a considerably tough time convincing me. Of all the films begging for a commentary, The Truman Show would have to be incredibly high on the list. Myself and many others just within my circle of friends would simply love to hear director Peter Weir and writer Andrew Niccol's thoughts on their masterful creation, but I guess that will remain but a dream.

Not only have we been shafted completely as far as extras go (as was the US), the region 1 version also has a lovely animated and sonically enhanced menu that is very effective, and suits the film's vibe perfectly. It would appear that us Australian yokels weren't considered worthy of anything that technologically advanced, as we simply get a cheesy static and silent™ menu that makes bat-poop seem absolutely enthralling by comparison.

This is a SHOCKING "effort" people.

  Overall  
Contract

The Truman Show is simply a modern day classic, a masterpiece of cinema that I believe should be seen by every conscious being upon the planet, if for no other reason than to see living proof that Hollywood can still create art that is suitable for the masses if given the opportunity. Any film that I can view as often as I have this that's still capable of reducing me to a blubbering mess one minute, then having me on the edge of my couch virtually shrieking "Go Truman!" the next, has very special powers indeed. It features the performance of Jim Carrey's life, a man I never had much time for before, and offers unquestionable proof that he is a good deal more of an able actor than his usual 2D goofball roles would have us believe. The fact that he was completely ignored for an Oscar nomination for this is an example of how clueless and cliquey the Academy can be, and should always serve as something to leave them red-faced at their ignorance. Oh, and Ed Harris as Christof is so convincing in his slimy little role here that if I ever the meet the man I'll be tempted to give him a right good slapping, which means he did his job here more than admirably.

It isn’t just an incredible film due to its story, either. Peter Weir's direction is stunning - utilising a multitude of the apparent 5000 cameras that stalk Truman to create the illusion for the most part that you are actually watching the television show, rather than a movie.

Sadly though this DVD borders on being an insult to the film, seemingly thrown together with little care or thought - and I believe they even have the utter cheek to ask $39.95 for it!

Fans of the film will have to settle for this, as sadly there is no better alternative available and it is in most ways better than the US offering. That doesn’t mean we have to be happy about it though, and Paramount should take a good long hard look at themselves with their treatment of this film, their laziness in presentation and their apparently avaricious pricing policy. Other distributors are doing things right in this country, however it would seem that some have a lot to learn...

Oh, and in case I don’t see ya, good afternoon, good evening and goodnight.


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      And I quote...
    "The Truman Show is a modern day cinematic masterpiece. Sadly though the DVD falls stratospheres short of doing it the justice it deserves..."
    - Amy Flower
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-535
    • TV:
          Sony 68cm
    • Speakers:
          Home Built
    • Surrounds:
          No Name
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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