Witness by Peter Weir Notes

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NOTES ON MODULE B, WITNESS BY PETER WEIR, 1985

Introduction:
* Engage in a detailed analysis of a text
* Understanding of how the ideas, forms and language of a text interact within the text and may affect those responding to it. * Students will need an understanding of film techniques and of the police drama genre. Important aspects to know:

* Visual techniquesenhance understanding of characters
* Editing techniquescreate suspense, establish characters, create atmosphere, position viewers to respond in a particular way * Narrative structureplot points and conventions of story telling * Mise en scene elementsconvey directors purpose

* Themestolerance; good and evil; isolation; nature of love; conflict; traditionalism; individuality; tradition; reality & appearance; violence & nonviolence, justice, freedom & commitment. Camera angles:

* High anglestaken from above to make a character look small, lost, inferior * Low anglestaken from underneath the character looking up towards them to make them look imposing, superior or threatening * Point of view shotA shot made from the camera position close to the line of sight of one of the characters, implying that we are seeing what he/she sees. * Two-shotA shot of two people together- implies unity, and can be contrasted with the shot/reverse shot method * Shot reverse shotreporting a conversation or argument by cutting from one person to another and back again-shows conflict increasing dramatic tension. * To a film maker or director, the choice of images and where the camera is placed, are often more important than the words the characters say, in expressing meaning. * The filmmaker must edit his material, in this case images and sounds. * A filmmaker can choose to film his scene from different angles, in long shot or in close up etc., and they can convey different meanings to an audience. * Long shot means the camera is a long way from the filmed subject. These often give an audience an overall impression of a landscape or scene and are often used at the beginning and end of a film. * Close up means that something is filmed extremely close, usually a face or an object. E.g. When Samuel is in the police office, he goes up to the cabinet where the trophies are, and there is a newspaper article. The camera moves to a close up, containing little or no background, and enables the director to show emotions and reactions Editing:

* Mise en scenea ‘realistic’ technique whereby meaning is conveyed through the relationship of things visible within a single shot (rather than, as with a montage, the relationship between shots). An attempt is made to preserve space and time as much as possible; editing or fragmenting of scenes is minimized. It relies particularly on lighting, props, costumes, movement and body language. * Montagethe process of cutting film up and editing it into the screened sequence. * Editing is an important part of the film making process, as the editor, under the guidance of the director, must decide on how to join the pieces of film together, whether to use close ups or long shots in particular sequences. * He or she must also decide how long each shot must remain on the screen, affecting the running time of the film. * Increased Cutting rate – Barn dancing scene:

It is used as Eli’s voice breaks Book and Rachel’s romantic moment, and he speaks in German to convey that what is happening is very inappropriate As Rachel walks back to the house, the increased cutting rate emphasises Eli’s fear that Rachel’s behavior may mean that she will be ‘shunned’, according to the ‘Ordnung’. * E.g. the ‘Pay Off’ scene:

The camera stops on Rachel’s bowed head while she contemplates her next move. She turns down the lamp and places her cap on the table, symbolizing her temporary rejection of her Amish values. * Weir uses a back profile shot, limited dialogue, a close up, and...
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