Witness: Western Culture

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How does Peter Weir use themes and ideas to make the world of Witness? Witness directed by Peter Weir presents a number of themes that are based around the contrasting aspects between two conflicting cultures; the Amish and the ‘English. These themes include clash of two cultures, violence versus pacifism, forbidden love and conformity versus non-conformity. These are presented effectively with a variety of film techniques.

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 grass 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. This is presented very effectively because the audience realises that the director is making a negative comment about society they are familiar with – anonymous, artificial and cold. Furthermore, visual juxtaposition is used effectively when Book first arrives at the Lapp farm. The visual of the car, symbolising the artificial and violent western world, is visually juxtaposed with the agricultural farm house of the Amish. This shows the differences and clash and incompatibility of the two cultures. 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 Book’s arrival on the Lapp farm, bringing all the violence from contemporary society and destroying the serenity of the Amish culture. Weir is clearly criticizing our contemporary society which clashes with the peaceful Amish. Another fascinating theme is violence versus pacifism.

Violence versus...
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