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Amish in Weirs Film Witness

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Peter Weirs film Witness distinguishes two very different worlds of the Amiss ND the city. Weir presents the tranquil and traditional simplistic lifestyle of the Amiss society juxtaposed with contemporary American society with its inherent violence and modernity. Weir engages the film into a three act structure providing an effective narrative to juxtapose their lifestyles and to distinguish the themes of corruption, violence, loss of innocence, forbidden love and justice. In Act One the murder scene we are thrust into a violent criminal world.

Samuel who is an innocent traditional Amiss boy loses his innocence from the witness f a murder. We see the murder from the subjective point of view shot of the child. Samuels view point of the murder is through a slightly ajar toilet door; metaphorically the use of a door is a transition point or lens from one world to another. Close up shots of Samuels terrified face is paralleled with the dramatic building of the music as Emcee searches for the noise of Samuel then resumes with a close up of Samuels face along with silence symbolizing his loss of innocence.

Furthermore in Act One, we see the character John Book interacting tit the Amiss community and how his modern world has inflicted on their peaceful tranquility. The structure of the narrative is essential in presenting Weir’s concern that it is essential to both respect the positive aspects of worlds as well as challenge negative consequences of violence and greed. Furthermore in Witness the impact of the modern world towards the Amiss is presented as Weir distinguishes Samuels loss of innocence when Samuel finds Books gun.

Books gun is a symbol of John Books modern world of corruption and violence that abruptly seems out of place in the world of the Amiss. Both Rachel and Samuel are changed by Books presence as in this scene Weir has presented how Books modern world has inflicted on Samuels viewpoint of Amiss morals on human life. Eli Lap, Samuels parental grandfather admonishes him about the evil of guns and Gods exclusive right to take human life.

Weir highlights how Samuels viewpoint on human life has been inflicted as Samuel makes a statement “l would only kill a bad man” is followed by Elis comment on the act of witnessing evil “what you take into your hands, you take into your heart, wherefore be ye spate, gaits the Lord and touch not the unclean thing”. Weir conveys through his grandfather’s well-meaning homilies Samuels recent experience of the modern corrupt world is unlikely to be erased.

The conflicting worlds is further explored in the second Act of witness as the dramatic focus is juxtaposed as it shifts from the outside world and onto Johns forbidden love with Rachel. The turning point’ of the second act is the scene where Book sees Rachel bathing. In this scene slow close-ups of Earache’s neck, back and arms are used over dialogue to convey Books magnetism towards Rachel. Again it is played out from one room to another through a doorway, once gain the door motif is used to justify the two worlds that cannot come together only conflict. Water is a harbinger of evil in Witness.

Book stares at the naked Rachel in a shower of water, which is a provocation for the illicit sexual union- an ‘evil’ act in the eyes of the Amiss law. As Book apologizes to Rachel in the next scene, he explains that crossing the threshold and consummation their obvious desires would have meant a turning away from Books past. “Rachel if we made love last night I’d have to stay”. This statement recognizes the irreconcilability of heir desperate worlds and is a clear turning point which signals the movement of the movement of the story to its climax and resolution.

Due to respecting to one another’s beliefs and values brings the barrier between them not allowing them to come together. In the third Act, in the scene ‘the final assault’ we see Books renewed resolved to confront his pursuers in revenge of the death of his partner. The scene the final assault shows how Book defeats his tormentors. After trying to escape in the car, this modern world symbol fails him and must seek other more recently earned ways to overcome his enemies.

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