Witness: Amish and Weir

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Through the medium of film, composers send messages to their audience that involve diverse aspects of human lives and related values. The film Witness by Peter Weir features components of the crime, romance and western genres and examines the co-existence of diverse cultures in 1984 Pennsylvania. The issues of good versus evil, cultural identity and forbidden love are also emphasized in the film. Using film techniques of mise en scene, lighting as well as dialogue and music, it helps construct a film that… (Incorporate question)

Weirs film looks into the Amish culture as well as mainstream American society and analyses the differences between them. The opening montage of the serene landscape, combined with the establishing shot of the Amish people walking through the tall grass positions the audience to understand the peace and tranquility that this community reflects. The people in anachronistic costumes, walking through the homestead indicates the peaceful nature of the Amish. Weir tries to show that it may not be the Amish whose lives are distorted or wrong as mainstream society seems to think. He introduces the city through the modern vehicles, the dirt and grime of the railway station and the irony of the “Happy Valley Bar “ where Weir has low key lighting and twisted sounds. It all incorporates the idea that city life is corrupt and violent. By interposing these two landscapes Weir adds to the contrast of the two cultures leading the audience to consider which of the two cultures might be the more “vagrant”. By the end of the film the audience is lead to the result that each culture has its own individual identity, which has its own values, and through these values they may be able to live their individual lives without the concern of being different.

The murder scene provides the key plot point for the entire film. Ironically, the lawmakers are the ones who commit murder. Audiences are made to reflect on many issues here- the people we put our trust...
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