Witness Essay

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Distinctive ideas are at heart of every play or film
In your view, what is a distinctive idea explored in Witness? Explain how this idea is developed throughout the text?

“Distinctive ideas are at heart of every play or film”. The notion of distinctive ideas being at the heart of every play or film is certainly evident in the film Witness, composed by Peter Weir. Weir successfully conveys many themes and issues throughout his film. His film comprises several ideas, each highly significant. One idea explored in Witness is the “clash of two cultures”: the insular world of the Amish with the crime and corruption of the outside world. The use of dialogues, camera techniques and characters further emphasise the distinctive idea that permeates the film through scenes such as “the Journey”, “Breaking the Rules” and “Right of Way”. (I’m not going to even re-read this as I gave you feedback about this paragraph on Friday) The term, “clash of two cultures”, is often used to describe the kind of discomfort individuals feel when they move into an unfamiliar social.environment. The ideas, values and habits to which these individuals are accustomed, challenge or contradict the ideas, values and customs of the group or community they enter. InWeir’s film, the idealistic world of the Amish comes into conflict with the ugly sub-culture of police corruption, leading to internal conflict in their close knit community. The Amish also come into conflict within the local culture. When the key characters, Book and Rachel fall in love, the gap between cultures is further emphasised, driving the drama. A good paragraph.

The two cultures emphasised here are modern American society and the Amish Society. John Book fits the character of a stereotypical officer in a detective thriller. Rachael Lapp is a confident woman committed to her beliefs and chosen way of life. The clash of cultures, and the understanding that they can never merge, is represented through Book and Rachel’s relationship. The ‘Breaking the Rules Scene’ clearly represents how their love is forbidden in the Amish community and that their culture differences could never let them be together, even though they are desperately in love. The idea that Book and Rachel are in love is conveyed through filming techniques such as various close ups and mid shots capturing the expression on their faces when they dance. The close ups and pauses between their dancing sustain tension throughout the scene clearly exemplifying the love between the two. In this scene, the lyrics of ‘what a wonderful world it would be...’ are played through Book’s car stereo as they dance under the headlights of the car that he has been repairing in the barn – thus there is a juxtaposition here and ‘clash’ of the two worlds which is evident as the car does not look right in the setting of a barn. The lyrics suggest that although their relationship could be wonderful, the “WOULD” shows that it would never happen under the circumstances. The quick cut editing and close-ups as they dance show their affection for each other, and the fun that they have in each other’s company; however this is interrupted by a shocked and angry Eli who represents the views of the Amish community, and this strengthens the idea of forbidden love. Another good paragraph.

The idea that the two cultures could never successfully cooperate with each other in the long term, and the idea that the Amish are conformists and value community, and the modern American society functions under individuality and personal gain, is shown in a scene set in a town nearby the Amish. When young American ‘rednecks’ insult and wipe ice-cream across Daniel’s face, Book becomes increasingly angry. However, Eli tries to stop Book reacting by sayingn “it is not our way.” Book’s reply, “But it is my way,” highlights the differences between the two. The close up of Book and the outsider epitomizes the tension and gives an idea of what might happen next. Book...
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