Essay on 'Witness' - Peter Weir

1696 Words May 31st, 2011 7 Pages
English Essay – ‘Witness’ by Peter Weir

The 1985 film witness, directed by Peter Weir is a crime/drama that develops the theme of conflict on a social, cultural and personal level. These areas of conflict are highlighted through the use of film techniques such as; camera shots, camera angles, lighting and costume. The film outlines the contrast between mainstream American society and the Amish community in regional Pennsylvania. While American society is seen as a violent and arrogant group of people, whereas the Amish are seen to be a peaceful, religious group of people. In this film the Amish perceive the mainstream American society to be called the ‘English’. The reason for this is the Amish originated in England so they believe that
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One is a ruthless killer and the other, Books mate is obviously supporting Book and free from a corrupt lifestyle. There is a fair representation of blacks in the film because they can be good or evil just like anyone else. This scene highlights the cultural conflict between Book and Rachel, because of the violence and ‘whacking’ aspects that are present.

At the police station Book begins showing Samuel photos of mug shots where Samuel shakes his head and walks around the office area. The director slows down the camera shot, creating suspense as Samuel walks over to the trophy cabinet and points at a newspaper article which draws Books attention. All we can hear is this peaceful Amish music and everything else is blocked out. Samuel is pointing at McPhee, a fellow colleague of Book which develops the personal conflict between Book and McPhee and other colleagues as we find out of their corruption.

John Book then takes a visit to Deputy Commissioner Paul Schaeffer’s house to notify him of the news. In his house we can see the wealth of Schaeffer because of all the leather and timber furnishings as well as an array of expensive looking statues and ornaments. We can make contrasts between Schaeffer’s house and Elaine’s messy, mediocre house which provides for the idea of separation of wealth in society and the corruption that is required to reach this high status of wealth. In the film Schaeffer’s wealth was achieved by the involvement of drug

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