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A film critic’s conference Films Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow is focusing on memorable films. You have been asked to deliver a speech in which you discuss which distinctive features and ideas make Witness a memorable film.
Films which are able to express distinctive features and ideas are always worthy of being memorable. The memorable films allow us viewers take in the contents and ideas that are portrayed in such films. Film critics of Films Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, I have received this opportunity to present my suggestion on a film which is definitely worthy of being commended as a memorable film.
The film Witness directed by Peter Weir effectively portrays such distinctive ideas consisting of cultural clash between the Amish and modern day society, the romance of two protagonists and the idea of good versus evil associating with the corruption within the police force. Together the three central distinct features of the film uses effective use of cinematic elements which allow the film to justify its position to be worthy of the title a memorable film.
Witness is a thriller which centres on the Amish community who live in Pennsylvania and a young Amish boy, Samuel and his widowed mother, Rachel. The two are caught up in a clash between two worlds. The modern American society where greed, violence and corruption take place as opposed to the juxtaposing world of the Amish which focuses on teamwork, peace and serving the community to create a better place.
The most distinct feature of the film is the idea based on cultural clash, originally introduced into the film when Samuel witnesses the horrific murder in the railway bathroom. Being a small, vulnerable child, witnessing something as unimaginable as this is enough corrupt his innocence. The viewers immediately know that this has an effect on the small child as the scene engages with several techniques including an extreme close up of Samuel’s eye and through body language of the heavy breathing as well as, his facial expression showing horror as he secretly witnesses the brutal murder and tries to avoid being found out by the killers.
The cultural clash is present as we know that the Amish works on a system which enables them to be known as pacifists as opposed to the contrasting lives of the city where violence solves everything. This is evident during the Amish’s trip into the city where confronted by the irritating teenage kids. The eye level shot of Daniel being harassed accompanied with his straight facial expression reinforces the Amish’s pacific beliefs in dealing with such situations. This is juxtaposed against John, whom uses violence and power in dealing with situations. A high angle shot viewing down upon the teenage boy enforces upon the power that Book has over him. The effect of John’s violent action and aggression towards the youngster reinforces upon the juxtaposing cultures between the Amish and the modern day society.
Another of the numerous distinctive ideas which you may consider to make this a memorable film is the persisting romance that occurs between Rachel and John throughout the film. This is portrayed in conjunction to the scene where John attempts to repair his car in the barn. The intimate relationship that develops within this scene originates through the music. The song ‘It’s a Wonderful World’ allows John and Rachel to embrace and dance with one another. The song selection was effectively used along with the repetition of the lyrics “… be with you”, as it reflects upon the mood of the scene, releasing the obvious romance between the two. The barn being dimmed by the dull light within the lamp allows the illumination upon on the two lovers allowing for the reinforcement of the romance between the two. The affection is further portrayed by the effective use of an eye level close up shot of the two which further extensively portrays the idea of romance amongst us viewers
What makes Witness such a successive film and the worthiness of being memorable is the ability that it allows the audience to be thoroughly engaged within the film by using thrilling elements allowing for the engagement of the audience. The thriller experience within the film is associated with the idea of corruption that occurs within the police force symbolizing the evil in the modern cities of America reinforcing upon the clash of cultures with the peaceful Amish, creating the idea of good versus evil. Following the events of Samuel’s witnessing, John discovers events that lead towards the murder of the police officer and allows himself to discover that whom he once knew was good is actually evil. Whilst Samuel was within the police station attempting to identify the killer, he eventually comes across an unexpected photo of the ‘black tall man’ whom he described to John. The close up shot of the news article enforces upon Samuel’s discovery. This is further reinforced as his face expresses horror with his body gesture pointing towards the photo, as well as looking at John in an eerie way, whilst the changing mood and tone of the background music becoming duller and faster, further exemplifies the discovery of the murderer. This is followed by John’s close up shot of his horrified facial expression of discovery which immediately confirms the corrupted cops that occur within the police department.
The three distinct ideas of clash of cultures between the Amish and modern American world, the intimate romance between John and Rachel and the idea of good versus evil between John and the corrupted cops together with the extensive use of techniques allow the film to thoroughly express its distinct ideas. The film in my opinion encompasses several issues and ideas which still occur within our everyday society. Surely from the thorough analysis of the film Witness, you film critics will join and side with my thoughts about the film recognising Witness as a worthy film of obtaining the title of being memorable. Remember… “Please be careful amongst them Englishmen.”
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