Underlying this theme is the question, what would we do if we were in the same situation as Truman? Would we be able to deal with it as effectively as he does? In essence, when he realizes that something is not right in his perfect world, his response is not really to flee, but to discover, and there is a big difference between the two. He wants to find out the truth, but also find out what lies beyond the massive soundstage that has been his home for his entire life. The audience has to feel that if the same thing happened to them, would they react in the same way? If your reality came crashing down around you, and everything you believed true for your entire life was false, could you cope? That is what makes this film so fascinating and memorable. It is entertaining, but on a much deeper level, it makes the viewer think about subjects that are not often discussed, and it makes them think just how they would handle the same situation in their own lives.
Of course, the film could have been very different. In an alternate ending, Truman might never have discovered the truth about his life. He could have remained as naive as ever and never questioned the reality around him, insinuating that he would continue in his "happy" life forever. That may not be as satisfying as his discovering the truth, but it might be closer to the character's real beliefs and composition. The story shows Truman coming to his realization gradually, through a series of events, but in "reality," would Truman have questioned those events, since he had not questioned anything for 30 years prior? Another alternate ending could have been Cristof returning Truman to the show in some sort of negotiation, in effect, holding Truman prisoner in his own reality, which would have made a very interesting, if unsatisfying, conclusion. Truly, the only way the viewer would want the story to end is for Truman to uncover the truth, that is the whole point of the film. The skeptic, however, would probably see that ending as too "happy," and would probably want to see Truman deal with his reality the way many other people do, by committing suicide or going crazy. The point remains. The ending makes the viewer question if they would have reacted the same way, and that is another aspect of this film that makes it fascinating and a bit disturbing at the same time.
It is also interesting that the film never really tells the viewer Truman's fate. Perhaps the producers were thinking of a sequel, a film that follows Truman through his new "reality." Actually, a funny take on that premise could be a new reality show developing around Truman and his new life, something that he would probably feel quite comfortable with, and even enjoy. It seems Truman might enjoy being a celebrity, since he was one for so long before he discovered it, and that would make an interesting premise for a new film. However, it would have been nice had the writers tied up the loose ends at the conclusion of this film, giving the audience a hint about Truman's fate, now that he had a whole new life in front of him. That brings up another aspect of the film. A skeptic could never have created this film, because the ending is so hopeful. Truman really does have his whole life in front of him, and which one of us would not like the chance to start over and create an entirely new life? Thus, the ending is quite upbeat and uplifting, something the skeptic simply could not accept.
In conclusion, this film is an excellent attempt at portraying alternate realities and how people deal with them. It really makes the viewer stop and think about their own versions of reality, and how they perceive them. It also makes the viewer question just what is real, and what is an illusion, and it makes them wonder how they would handle the same kind of situation in their own lives. Reviewers called this film a "fantasy," but it seems that is actuality it is a "reality," just an alternate reality that makes people stop and think about the realities and fantasies of their own lives, and just what they might mean today and…