Throughout his 1985 film "Witness" , Peter Weir powerfully explores a number of contrasting themes which challenge the viewers intellect and curiosity on a number of levels. Primarily, This dramatic thriller exposes the contrasting worlds of modern American "English" society with the traditional and nostalgic existence of the Pennsylvanian Amish community. However, as the viewer is taken on the intended emotional journey a number of other themes are also exposed and deserve consideration.
Film techniques significantly contribute to ensuring that viewer engagement is achieved and maintained. This complex process requires exquisite attention to detail and is perfected by Weir.
The juxtaposition of Innocence and corruption is expertly displayed during scenes at the Philadelphia train station. Samuel Lapp oozes innocence. His formal attire complete with the "halo - like" hat confirm his amish background. The use of medium angle camera shots and camera tracking ensures that the viewer explores the unfamiliar territory of the Philadelphia train station from Samuel's perspective. Close ups and extreme close ups of Samuels facial expressions convey the fascination and bewilderment as he is confronted with foreign objects such as the water bubbler but also allow the viewer to share the initial happiness (smiles) as he falsely thinks the Jewish gentleman is a familiar Amish figure. This scene is not complicated by dialogue therefore allowing the viewer to absorb the visual aspects.
The concept of corruption / evil is anticipated when Samuel views the large bronzed statue. As he approaches this majestic figure lyrical music is introduced which replaces the harsh city sounds. He gazes up at this biblical illusion fixated on the obvious display of life and death. The statue is confusing. His knowledge of angels and the bible are not associated with death. A birds eye camera shot is used to emphasize the size of the statue compared to Samuel who is seen as very...
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