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How are the Amish Community Presented in the film Witness

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How are the Amish Community Presented in the film Witness In this essay I am looking at how the use of lighting, music, camera angles, tension and comedy all contributed towards highlighting the differences between the Amish community and the normal American public. I will do this by looking at these different devices that the director Peter Weir uses in the film. He uses all of the above techniques to influence the audience into seeing the Amish and American presented as direct contrasts. Throughout the film there is an ongoing thriller/drama genre, with certain aspects of romance in it. We can see that it is mainly a thriller/drama because at many points during the film the director makes good use of tension, such as at the start of the film where Samuel Lapp the young Amish boy is witness to a murder from a lavatory cubicle. The tension rises as the killer checks each cubical for him but at the last minute Samuel darts into the one next to him, evading the killers grasp. The target audience for this type of film, I can guess would be of a mature age range, mostly adults. ...read more.


Also, the police station is very noisy and everyone looks very rushed. When the action transfers to the Amish community the pace of the film becomes much slower. Shaeffer is shown on the front porch swing for example, seemingly having plenty of time. Transport is by horse and carriage, a slow and calm form of transport, and when they are building the barn it is very calm and not frantic activity. These periods of calm help the director to deliver shocks to his audience by introducing violent and frantic moments into the Amish scene which appear really out of place and heightened because of the contrast. For example, when the killer is in the grain hold and fires the gun. Guns are not allowed in the Amish community and yet are part of life for many Americans, and when the killer fire the gun this seems particularly obscene as it is so against what the Amish believe in. The lighting is another major factor in how the Amish are presented as they only use natural light, i.e. candles and lanterns for light, whereas in the modern world they use electricity for light. ...read more.


This represents that the truck is the size of the modern world and the small Amish carriage is the Amish community, which is so much smaller than the modern world. It also shows that the Amish are going to make the modern world come to a stand still as the carriage is holding up the traffic. This is portrayed throughout the film as the thread running through it is the reluctance of the Amish community to become involved in the murder inquiry and yet the inquiry cannot proceed with the only witness, the Amish boy. It is also shown by the desperate measures taken by the chief of police to try and find the witness and kill him so that corruption can carry on. In his view this small, insignificant child and community are holding up something much bigger. Other ways which the director tries to portray the differences in the significance of the different communities using size, is in the railway station. Samuel is looking up at the statue at the station and we see the shot though both Samuel's eyes and the statues. This firstly makes the statue seem far bigger than Samuel although it really isn't. It also represents how the Amish are thought of out of the modern world, small and insignificant. ...read more.

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