DVD Review HTF REVIEW: The Truman Show - Special Edition

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Scott Kimball, Aug 21, 2005.

  1. Scott Kimball

    Scott Kimball Screenwriter

    May 8, 2000
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    The Truman Show - Special Edition

    Studio: Paramount

    Year: 1998

    Rated: PG

    Length: 102 minutes

    Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

    Audio: Dolby Digital English 5.1, English, French 2.0

    English Subtitles

    Closed Captioned

    Special Features: 2 Part "making of" documentary, visual effects featurette, deleted scenes, trailers, photo gallery

    Suggested Retail Price: $19.99 USD

    Release Date: August 23, 2005

    The Feature
    I’m not a Jim Carrey fan.

    There. I’ve said it.

    But even I can’t refute that Jim Carrey delivered a wonderful performance as Truman Burbank. Truman lived what seemed an idealistic life. He lived in a picturesque community, had a loving wife and a good job, good friends.

    But Truman slowly came to realize that something wasn’t right. Everything wasn’t right. His wife, his family, his town.

    He decided to leave, but everything he did to further his attempt met with obstacles. He simply could not leave the island. He began to feel like he was being watched.

    He was right.

    Truman was the star of his own television show - only he didn’t know. Carrey’s neurotic approach to acting is a perfect fit for Truman, and he played it perfectly - strangely, but not over the top.

    Laura Linney as Truman’s wife, and Noah Emmerich as his best friend add nice color to the tv town. Ed Harris is the egotistical God-playing creator of the show, Christof.

    The film is kind of quirky by design, and prophetic of the unfortunate “reality” fad to hit the TV networks a few years later.

    Written by Andrew Niccol (Gattaca), the film presents us with a technological marvel (a domed television set the size of an entire city), thrusts unwitting characters into the technological milieu, and leaves us, the audience to question the ethics, the right and wrong. In that respect, the film parallels Gattaca, exploring the same themes in a completely different setting.

    We do see other characters in the film questioning the ethics of Christof’s show, but most just go along - or become caught up in the whole thing - wondering, “How’s it Going to End?”

    Picture and Sound
    The Truman Show is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio (estimated) and is anamorphically enhanced. The print used for the transfer is very clean, showing only an occasional rare speck. The picture features acceptable sharpness and detail, but is ever so slightly softened - possibly due to noise reduction, AA filtering, or the like. Color saturation is absolutely beautiful - “hyper-realistic,” I believe, is the look they were going for. Contrast is very nice. Black levels are solid, while preserving detail in shadows. Some white highlights are slightly blown, but I don’t really recall if this was part of the original presentation.

    I saw no noticeable compression artifacts, although there is some very slight ringing around high contrast borders - it is only occasionally visible. A scene at 03:24 displays a mild shimmer or shake for a few seconds, but it is mild and not a pervasive issue.

    Very nice, overall.

    The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is nice, offering a full range of frequencies and crystal clear dialog. Music is nicely expressed. Excellent ambient effects are heard in the surrounds throughout the film. Whether on land or sea, the surround effects are well placed. Low frequency effects are adequate.

    How’s It Going To End? The Making of The Truman Show (Two parts, with a “Play All” feature)

    Totaling over 40 minutes, this “making of” documentary features Peter Weir, Edward Feldman, Ed Harris, Noah Emmerich, and Laura Linney. Unfortunately, Jim Carrey’s inclusion is limited, and appears to be cut from a single period interview.

    The documentary is anamorphically enhanced, and is well shot and edited. The piece covers everything from script revisions, casting, characterizations, direction, location shooting, set design and cinematography. Much is made of how prophetic the film turned out to be, with the “reality TV” fad only a few years away.

    This is an enjoyable documentary, but there is the noticeable lack of contemporary contributions by Carrey. I’d also really like to have seen some input by Andrew Niccol.

    Faux Finishing: The Visual Effects of The Truman Show
    Lasting under 15 minutes, this short featurette explores the “hyper-realistic” look of the film, and how it was achieved through a mix of traditional and digital approaches.

    Deleted Scenes (with a “play all” feature)
    Product Placement
    Truman Suspicious
    The Future Cast Meeting
    Truman Missing

    Total running time: 13:08

    Photo Gallery
    40 images, mostly on-the-set shots during production, with a few stills from the film.

    Teaser Trailer (1:52)
    Theatrical Trailer (2:33)

    The trailers are not anamorphically enhanced.

    TV Spots
    Two spots with a “Play All” feature.

    Airplane: Don’t Call Me Shirley Edition
    Tommy Boy: Holy Schnikes Edition
    The John Wayne Collection

    Final Thoughts
    The Truman Show is an interesting film - and much more so today, I think, than when it was made. Re-watching the film for the first time since its theatrical release, I can definitely say I appreciated it more than when I saw it originally. What was prophetic when the film was made has, to a limited extent, come to pass in real life. It is difficult to remember that there really was no “reality TV” until a few years after this film was made.

    The transfer is a good one, if not perfect. The 40 minute “making of,” 12 or so minute special effects featurette and deleted scenes add to the value of this release.

  2. Adam_WM

    Adam_WM Screenwriter

    Oct 25, 2001
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    Great review! Can't wait! Been waiting a long time for this one!
  3. Rex.G

    Rex.G Stunt Coordinator

    Feb 8, 2004
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    How does the transfer compare to the previous edition?
  4. Kyle McKnight

    Kyle McKnight Cinematographer

    Mar 8, 2001
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    He stated in his review he hasn't seen this movie since the theatrical release, so I doubt that he owns the original to compare it to.
  5. DavidBL

    DavidBL Stunt Coordinator

    Apr 19, 2002
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    The DVD Talk review says that the audio is the same but the transfer is much improved. The top of the image has been cropped very slightly from the last version.

    DVD Talk Review Link
  6. DavidS

    DavidS Stunt Coordinator

    May 24, 2001
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    nifty! definitely on my must-buy list.
  7. Mark Lucas

    Mark Lucas Second Unit

    Aug 3, 2005
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    For some reason I remember the old laserdisc edition I still have somewhere having better colors than this new release. Hmm. It does look pretty good but has a softness with some annoying ringing on a lot of shots. For some reason the sharpness issue improves as the film progresses.

    The film is of course brilliant and is truly timeless now. Too bad the closest thing to a real life Truman Show was that awful Big Brother show. Note to reality tv show producers: actors who know they're on tv are boring and nowhere near as interesting as watching someone candidly.
  8. Tarkin The Ewok

    Tarkin The Ewok Supporting Actor

    Apr 15, 2004
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    During the interviews, it is said that another actor was slated to play Christof before Ed Harris was cast, but it didn't work out for some reason. Does anybody know who this actor was?
  9. Mark Lucas

    Mark Lucas Second Unit

    Aug 3, 2005
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    Dennis Hopper. Creative differences.
  10. Mike Soltis

    Mike Soltis Stunt Coordinator

    Jul 23, 2001
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    This one has an anamorphic transfer, whereas the previous DVD release did not. Reason enough for me to spend the 15 bucks.
  11. James Luckard

    James Luckard Stunt Coordinator

    Apr 21, 2003
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    True, it has an anamorphic transfer, but they accomplished that by cropping the 1.66 image down to 1.78. And they didn't just crop some off the top and bottom, they also cropped from the sides quite a bit, requiring them to cut yet more off the top and bottom to keep the 1.78 aspect ratio.

    The color is vastly improved, but the framing becomes really, really tight. This is especially noticable whenever there is text onscreen. Take a look at the shot of the sign saying "Nuclear Plant" when Truman and Meryl drive there, or the map behind Truman's best friend that says "Fiji Islands" right as he discovers that Truman has escaped from his basement. Both of those become so tight on the new disc that when viewed on a TV, the overscan causes letters to be chopped off.

    Plus, I've read that Peter Weir specifically chose 1.66 because it was more similar to a TV, and would look like we were watching the show. I've actually always wondered if the film wouldn't look best at 1.33 open matte, the framing always seemed a bit tight on the top and bottom even on the 1.66 original DVD.

    Bottom line, I'm happy I got the new disc for the extras, but I'm hanging on to my old disc and it will probably be the one I watch in the future.

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