The Truman Show

Peter Weir

5 June 1998

The Truman Show, directed in 1998 by Peter Weir, is a libertarian comedic drama about a man who bravely strives to obtain truth and liberation.  That man, Truman Burbank, brilliantly portrayed by Jim Carrey, is the star of his own reality television show, called The Truman Show.  The thing is, he does not know it.  The film explores—sometimes subtley, sometimes overtly—such topics as libertarianism, religion, existentialism, and the search for truth in a world of uncertainty.  The answers it gives are not always clear-cut, but they never fail to be stimulating.



Philosophical Questions Worth Considering

Plato’s Cave or Truman’s Dome? by Stephen Baxter

2004 — Baxter cites Plato, Descartes, and The Truman Show as providing examples of unreal worlds.  While Plato had the allegory of the cave, and Descartes the malicious dæmon, The Truman Show has a dome set constructed by an extremely wealthy television company.

Lights, Camera, Action! Cogito ergo Sum by Kimberly A. Blessing

2005 — Blessing explores the similarity of themes in Descartes’s Meditationes de prima philosophia (1641) and Weir’s The Truman Show.  Both, for example, require one to consider methodological scepticism as an appropriate tool for the discovery of true belief.

Truman and the Value of Testimony in the Formation of Beliefs by Duncan Pritchard

2006 — Pritchard contends that we are all in the same boat as Truman in our reliability of testimonial knowledge.  While testimony concerning “local” beliefs, which can be varified directly, are generally reliable, testimony concerning “non-local” beliefs, which cannot be independently verified, are inherently questionable.

Truman Burbank and The Virtue of Pursuing Truth by R. Douglas Geivett

2007 — Geivett notes various virtuous qualities of Truman Burbank, especially as far as his desire to obtain true belief is concerned.

The Truman Show and the Failure of Socialism by Xavier Cromartie

18 July 2010 — Cromartie contends that Christof, the director of the fictional show about Truman Burbank, is most appropriately compared to the state socialist, whose goal it is to provide people with certain forms of security through centralised planning at the expense of liberty.

The Truman Show: A Libertarian Critique by Alexander S. Peak

19 October 2011 — The television studio uses aggression against Truman in order to prevent him from leaving his island home.  This use of aggression is, according to libertarians, inherently unethical.  Libertarians cheer when Truman, in the end, decides to walk through the door in his continued quest for liberation and truth.

The Truman Show: What Happens Next? by Alexander S. Peak

26 October 2011 — After Truman walks through the doorway, many things occur.  He reunites with Sylvia, and they marry a year later.  They honeymoon in Fiji.  Truman sues the television company and becomes a multi-billionaire.  Christof commits suicide.  Louis Coltrane goes on to become an Oscar-winning actor, while Hannah Gill steps out of the limelight for a decade.  In 2010, Truman becomes a donor to WikiLeaks.

Jim Carrey as Truman Burbank