The Witness

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In the film "Witness" the producer, Peter Weir, has created binary worlds with different value systems. He has done this through the use of juxta-positioning, camera angles set at different heights and the process of character development. In the movie, John Book aims to solve the murder case of another Police Officer. The only witness to the murder is 7-year-old Samuel Lapp, a young Amish boy. The two worlds that Peter Weir creates, and tries to communicate their differences to us is the traditional Amish society as appose to our modern contempory society. The Amish society follows an unwritten rule of others before self. Throughout the film Weir contrasts and compares the two worlds which are evident in a number of scenes. Central concerns include differences of the two worlds, collision of the two worlds, bearing witness, abuse and power.

The clash of two cultures between the Amish and the English is one of the major themes in the film and is portrayed using a number of film techniques. The film commences with the view of long, lush wheats with the Amish emerging from it soon after, accompanied by natural and ambient lighting. This establishes the Amish effectively as peaceful people who are in harmony with nature. However, this view of the Amish is soon juxtaposed in the next scene with the English. Weir effectively uses a long shot of a train station with everyone doing their own thing along with harsh and artificial lighting. The traditional values are furthered through the fact that the Amish reject modern technologies. This is depicted through their old modes of transportation, using only a horse drawn carriage to commute. Weir uses a long shot to juxtapose the modern vehicles with the horse drawn carriage in the frame, thus demonstrating the conflicting values between the Amish and the modern world.

Also, Weir uses a clever and interesting piece of symbolism when Book crashes his car into a birdhouse on the Lapp farm and breaks it. This symbolizes...
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