A tool by which to analyse The Truman Show is irony. What this means essentially is that the levels of meaning intersect only through the audience, because the levels of meaning are all contained in one artistic work but can only be dissected by the audience, who connect with the artist through the work. It is irrelevant which medium the work is in for it to be ironic and in fact the term post-modern essentially means only that it comes in the period after the modern. The audience and the artist have become familiar to such a degree that levels of meaning can be understood by one another without explicit definition or formulation, with shifting definitions and formulations seeming to be more of a conversation. We must use irony so that the conversation can be analysed.
Much of the conversation is mediated by Christof, the character who created the Truman Show, who directs from the Lunar Room. Christof may be seen as a form of alter ego for Truman, because whereas Truman believes that he is leading his own life, in reality he is being led by Christof. The Lunar Room is a command post through which all the characters in Truman's world - Seahaven Island - walk on their ironic way from an ever intruding, yet supervening, reality. "It's a life", says Christof, about Truman in the opening sequence in the Lunar Room, although we are not given to understand whether he is referring to himself or to Truman. He speaks with a self-reflexivity, using the collective pronoun "we", but we - as the audience - do not know for sure whether Christof regards himself as the "we", because Christof is an actor in a movie. Perhaps the contextualising of the film means that the real irony lays in the fact that Peter Weir is Christof and Christof is Weir.
Such appropriation of identity never really leaves us throughout the movie. Each character in the movie has multiple characteristics. For example, Meryl who plays Truman's wife speaks rapturously:
Well, I mean, there is no--there is no
difference between a private life and a
public life. My--my life is my life, is
The Truman Show. The Truman Show is...a
lifestyle. It's a noble life. It is...a
truly blessed life.
The post-modern characteristic is that Meryl's life is not her life at all, it is not The Truman Show; it is neither public, nor private. This aesthetic denies that it is aesthetic through repetition and irony - note the repetition of "there is no", "my - my", "The Truman Show". What Weir's script and the magnificent acting of Laura Linney - as Hannah Gill, as Meryl Burbank - has achieved is to erase the lines between fantasy and reality; however we need a point of contact with the movie.
It becomes essential for us to identify with Truman Burbank. There is a very neutral aesthetic running throughout The Truman Show whose purpose is to draw as many of the audience as possible into the drama. Along with the controlled action, which many audience members will be able to identify with, Truman works in the seemingly ubiquitous corporate world:
(to mirror cam)
I'm not going to make it. You're going
to have to go on without me. No way,