Witness by Peter Weir

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Witness is a box office hit film directed by Peter Weir which explores the themes of conflicting cultures on a social, cultural and personal level in a film noir style crime thriller. Peter Weir presents a number of themes that are based around the contrasting aspects between two conflicting cultures; the Amish and the “English,” contradicting between the mainstream American society and the Amish community in regional Pennsylvania. American society is seen as a violent and arrogant group of people, whereas the Amish are seen to be a peaceful and religious group of people. This raises many moral issues with the unlikely relationship between John Book and Rachel to develop which later creates the personal conflicts because of Book’s mainstream American culture clashing with Rachel’s Amish religious beliefs and customs. Identification Scene:

The notion of juxtaposition of life in Philadelphia is shown in comparison to Book’s sister’s house where it’s overcrowded and over furnished whereas the Amish is shown as a simple and a peaceful community. The police office is messy, chaotic and cluttered emphasising that it’s a threatening world, juxtaposing to the peaceful community of the Amish. In this scene, Weir cleverly catches the viewer off guard by having Samuel innocently wondering around, noticing things about his environment that are strange or off putting such as the criminal who deliberately tries to scare him by rattling his handcuffs against the chair. The world of the police station is depicted again through Samuel’s eyes and so the camera is held at his height which distorts and disorients the viewer’s perspective. Jarre’s music makes the moment of recognition even more theatrical in its intensity as does the cinematography. A continuous take is used throughout the scene giving it a seamless quality that heightens the tension. As Samuel stares down into the trophy case, it reinforces the irony of Mcfee where he has been honoured by all of these...
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