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Witness Movie Review

Essay by   •  June 15, 2011  •  Book/Movie Report  •  1,060 Words (5 Pages)  •  2,779 Views

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In the 1985 film 'witness' director peter weir explores clear cultural clashes between the old-fashioned peaceful world of the Amish and the modern American world of crime and violence. The film revolves around a young Amish boy 'Samuel' witnessing the brutal murder of an undercover police officer; from then on officer 'john book who fits the role of a stereotypical detective in a crime thriller sets out to protect Samuel and his mother Rachel from the corrupt cops that were responsible for the murder. Director peter weir is well known for exploring cultural clashes in his films, he places the characters in a setting that is completely foreign to them, this causes conflicts, which he then depicts throughout the scenes in the film. In witness he uses both film techniques and rhetorical devices such as symbolism, camera angles, juxta positioning and the process of character development, these techniques are used in order to explore the cultural clashes between these two very different worlds, one being the Amish and the other being mainstream society.

Through the use of camera angles Peter Weir has made a comparison between the two worlds and highlighted cultural clashes between the two. At the beginning of the film, we see Samuel exploring the train station, walking slowly in unimportance to everyone else, who are rushing to be places. The camera is positioned at Samuels's head height in a manner which we can only see passers by from their thighs to their shoulders. The fact that Samuel is comfortably walking around the station, gives the audience the notion that time doesn't matter to the Amish as it does to members of mainstream society. If you have time, theirs deadlines, meaning stress and anger, this ultimately leads to wanting to be better than others. The Amish are humble people, therefore an Amish person must follow the rules set by the 'ordnung' and reject 'hochmut' and instead place high value on 'demut'. This is totally different to modern American society where people don't have established rules that they must follow; instead they set their own rules, whilst in Amish culture the ordnung is the established rules that they must follow. Due to this we as an audience can see the major cultural clashes between Amish and modern American societies.

The way each character is portrayed in the movie, also help to create a comparison between the two worlds and highlight the cultural clashes. The Amish characters are portrayed in a different manner than the modern American character this is to create a direct comparison. An example of this is the ice cream scene near the end of the film where a group of young individuals, members of a modern American society, confront members of Amish society. In the scene the young individuals are portrayed as a group of people going out of their way to harass a group of people who cant fight back just for their own amusement. The idea of making life difficult for others is the modern way of thinking, whilst the Amish try to help each other when ever they can. In the film the audience can associate different feelings with the



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