Directed by Peter Weir
CLASH OF CULTURES
Peter Weir’s film Witness explores the clash of cultures by contrasting the Amish culture with a modern Westernised society. Firstly, cultural clash is achieved through the contrast of setting. The panning shot of the countryside, depicting Amish farmhouses and barns, coupled with the free flowing soundtrack, depicts a peaceful agrarian community. This contrasts with the busy American city, with shops, modern style buildings and cars suggesting a highly industrialised society. Cultural clash 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 depicts a group of Amish people walking together. The group, clad in similar black costumes, reinforces the notion of a unified community. Additionally, the eye level angle 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, reinforcing the individualism of the modern Westernised world. Individualism is further conveyed in the scene of Samuel at the police station, where middle angle shots of people working alone at desks emphasises the need for individualism.
The clash of cultures is further depicted through the existence and non-existence of technology. The mis en scene, where the truck follows the Amish people’s horse and buggy, signifies the traditional ways of the Amish people, and their disregard for modern ‘outside’ influences, such as the mode of transport. Their rejection of technology is further supported by the Lapp family’s ignorance of television commercials. This is shown by the close up shot of the family staring at Book in confusion, which highlights the cultural clash. Thus, on one hand we see the modern society is influenced by technology, and on the other, we...
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