Witness Essay Peter Weir

Essay about Peter Weir's Witness

1454 Words6 Pages

Peter Weir's Witness

In the 1985 film witness director Peter Weir explores the sharp cultural conflicts between the old Amish society of western Pennsylvania and the modern American world of crime and violence. The main character, Philadelphia police detective John Book
(played by Harrison Ford), is forced into hiding by a group of corrupt fellow officers looking for a little Amish boy (played by Lukas Haas). The boy witnesses a brutal killing and identifies the policeman who did it from a photograph on the wall at headquarters.
John Book and his witness hide in the house of the boys's mother Rachel (played by
Kelly McGillis) on a farm in the Amish country. The detective and the Amish widow gradually enter into a frustrated love affair,…show more content…

The use of camera angles and continuity editing further enhanced the sequence. We see the whole community work in a collective project that is rarely found outside there society.
     The corruption and violence of modern America are not entirely a product of urban society. In the most direct cultural confrontation of the film, Book goes to the nearby small town disguised as an Amish farmer. When a local though taunts the gentle
Daniel for refusing to fight, Book administers a severe beating to the bully. Book's poorly-fitted clothes and his aggression startle the townspeople, who ever imagined that one of the pacifists would fight back. In the end, it is Amish culture which triumphs.
Although Book defeats and kills tow of his attackers in combat, is only when a full crown of Amish farmers surrounds the last armed killer that the battle ends in surrender.
     Witness is also rich in symbolism, and incorporates interactive elements which support the main theme and plot of the story. The boy Samuel is wide-eyed and innocent, but his keen sight and good memory provide the key to solving the crime. Book's world is the opposite of innocent, but we soon learn that he is incorruptible, hardworking and clean in his morals. His handgun becomes a major symbol of violence and a force that he brings from the big city to the quiet Amish world. But he adapts to the new way of

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Essay about Cultural Differences: Witness - Peter Weir: Into the World

709 WordsAug 10th, 20133 Pages

The film Witness, directed by Peter Weir portrays the concept of cultural differences between the Amish and the outside world through various film techniques. Weir demonstrates aspects of moving into the world using symbols, characterisation, setting and diegetic and non-diegetic sounds so to convey the significant cultural differences within the film.

The contrast of the Amish and the outside world is expressed in the barn scene. The scene opens with the car, which is a symbol and motif of the outside world. The car is placed in the barn which further demonstrates the contrast of both cultures. It is clear that the car doesn’t belong with the barn, as in Amish culture technology isn’t used, especially cars. As John Book fixes the car…show more content…

This is further implied through John singing the lyrics ‘that I love you and I know that if you love me too what a wonderful world this would be’ This indicates the possibility of how things would be if their cultures were more accepting.

The contrasts of both cultures are expressed through the mid shot of both characters as they are caught by Ellie. The car lights shine on Rachel and John, which emphasise that they have been caught in the act and that their actions are ‘immoral’, as the Amish are not to use technology, let alone listen to English music this is further supported by the close up shot of Ellie’s surprised and disappointed expression.

Towards the end of the film, there is a scene which highlights cultural differences. In this scene Rachel and John are saying goodbye as John goes back to the outside world. In this scene, it is demonstrated through the close up shots of both characters gradual smiles and combination of hopeful non-diegetic music, that they have realised and accepted that John doesn’t belong in Rachel’s Amish community and must go back to his world. The cultural differences are made prominent through setting and costuming. The juxtaposition of John’s suit, the land and the bird house emphasises the differences in culture as a suit is typically worn everyday in the modern world for work, however he wears the suit on the natural landscape which signifies his lack of connection to the Amish world. The acceptance of John’s departure

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