Witness: Western Culture and Rachel

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Peter Weir’s film Witness explores the contrast between the two worlds by contrasting the Amish culture with a modern Westernized society. Weir presents many themes and issues in his film. Through his use of film techniques like long shots and close-ups make the film more enjoyable. These themes include clash of two cultures/different worlds, Peace and violence, innocence and corruption. These are presented effectively with a variety of film techniques, editing, setting, dialogue and music/sound. The two elements of the plot, the love story, and the crime story, make up the genre. Firstly, cultural clash is achieved through the contrast of setting. The clash between the two cultures is a major issue in the film and it is later resolved. The shot of the countryside, showing the Amish farmhouses and barns shows a peaceful community. This contrasts with the busy American city, with shops, modern style buildings and cars suggesting a highly industrialized society. Contrasting of the two worlds is again achieved by comparing the community in the Amish world with the individualism in the modern world. This is shown through camera techniques and costumes. In the opening scene, a long shot shows a group of Amish people walking together. The group, dressed in similar black costumes, supports the idea of a unified community. Additionally, the shot of the men raising the barn, gives an impression of teamwork in the Amish community. This contrasts with the high level angle shot of people walking around independently in the train station, increase the individualism of the modern world. The two worlds come together when Book drives Rachel to her father in law’s house, Eli, which is shown through the visual contrasts and comparisons Weir uses throughout the film. For example many of the images use the lack of harmony, which is the placement of things side by side that aren’t usually seen together – this shows the two worlds colliding, the clash of cultures. For example...
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