The Truman Show: 25th Anniversary – 35mm PG

A man who appears to be in a kitchen staring blankly through a glass panel. The word 'LIVE' is written on the bottom right of the screen.
22 September
Arc Cinema
Dir: Peter Weir, PG, United States, 1998, 103mins, 35mm,

Fright Night: Cult Cinema Classics at the NFSA with Venus Mantrap

It wasn’t so long ago but 1998 seems as far as a distant solar system: a provincial pre-millennial world where Spice Girls dominate pop charts, ER and The X-Files are on telly and Titanic sells 20 million copies on home video. There is no such thing as The Kardashians, Real Housewives or Big Brother. But there is The Truman Show.

Played by Jim Carrey in his first critically acclaimed dramatic role, Truman Burbank is the unsuspecting central figure in a round-the-clock reality television program. When tech equipment literally falls from the sky, Truman notices other unusual happenings in his carefully curated town of Seahaven, triggering a series of questions about his seemingly idyllic existence.

Upon its release, Peter Weir’s darkly comic and satirical forecast of future media landscapes pushed concepts surrounding ethics and entertainment to the very brink of the absurd. But these far-fetched notions  once thought only possible within the realms of science-fiction  were clairvoyant in their visions and have since become crystallised. 

The exploitation of Truman as a central character is  like many great works of satire and sci-fi  a prescient rendering of 21st century consumerist appetites. The perverse irony that nobody could have predicted is that on the other side of Truman’s fabricated existence was a world in waiting  one where the individual would enthusiastically embrace the very thing that Truman was desperate to escape.

The Truman Show is a very foreboding, dark movie - and, unfortunately, our world ha[s] gone even way beyond that Laura Linney, Vanity Fair (2018)

Television, with its insatiable hunger for material, has made celebrities into 'content', devouring their lives and secrets. If you think The Truman Show is an exaggeration, reflect that Princess Diana lived under similar conditions from the day she became engaged to Charles’ Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

The Truman Show is that rare cinematic experience  a movie so close to pure perfection that it seems a shame to spoil it by even reading a review beforehand. Ironically, this intricate satire on the subject of media saturation should be seen by eyes untainted by previews, television advertisements or even the opinions of critics in order for its smart, teasing story to work its full magic’  Michael O'Sullivan

Presented on a 35mm film print from the NFSA collection. 

See more films in the series Fright Night: Cult Cinema Classics at the NFSA with Venus Mantrap.


Venus Mantrap

Venus Mantrap is an androgynous construct whose roots are firmly planted in the world of drag. Exploring aspects of cabaret, performance-art and comedy during live shows, Mantrap has produced The Bowie Ball and starred in the one-person shows Life, Love and Lip Syncing and Valley of the Molls. Venus is regularly found at Smith's Alternative as the MC of Cabaret Voltaire and has been a featured artist at Glitterbox, LGBTIQ+ Elders Dance Club, Drag Cabaret and Finucane and Smith's touring show Dancehall. Follow them on Instagram at @the_venus_mantrap.



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