"Witness" Analysis

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The film “Witness”, directed by Peter Weir, is about the traditional Amish life versus the violent ways of the Western World. The film begins when an Amish boy named Samuel Lapp witnesses the murder of a policeman, and when detective John Book discovers it was an ‘inside job’ he gets shot and takes Samuel and his mother Rachel back to their Amish community. While nursing the bullet wound he stays with them for a week and learns the Amish way of life. He is not comfortable at first but he is eventually accepted by the Amish and falls in love along the way. One scene that captures the serenity and happiness of the Amish is the barn raising scene, which Weir uses to emphasis their supportive and community-minded ways and show that John Book has finally been accepted into their community. The scene also positions the viewers to recognize the developing love between John and Rachel. This film’s proactive portrayal of the Amish would not be as vibrant without the barn raising scene which demonstrates that they are a helpful and loving community. Peter Weir achieves this by many well thought-out cinematographic techniques.

The barn raising scene helps show how comfortable the Amish are with their old-fashioned, community-minded ways. Techniques used in this film to show this include the longs shots used to show that the whole Amish town is coming together to build a barn for a newlywed couple, and it is obvious by their smiling faces and enthusiasm that they feel happy and privileged to do so. The fact that the sky is so clear and beautiful is another way that Peter Weir has added to the joyous mood of the scene. It is also a way of showing the Amish community in a more positive light than the city culture, where Weir has chosen to film cloudy and rainy days. Symbolic objects in the barn raising scene include the bright though plain clothes that the Amish are wearing, which are used to show what a joyous occasion this is, where the rest of the...
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