Peter Weir’s "Witness" is a perfect example to show the many opposites and clashes in cultures. The main clashes viewed in "Witness" include the Amish and Urban views and ways of life. The Amish live very simple lives free of violence and technology which in "Witness" is the very opposite to the urban world.
The first clash we see is early in the movie where an Amish group travels to the city in a horse and carriage. The viewer sees the horse and cart holding up a seemingly enormous truck. The horse and cart is tiny compared to the built up industrial town which surrounds it and seems very out of place in the very busy and fast paced streets of the urban world. A number of techniques are used by Weir to exaggerate this clash including the use of long full shots which show the large city in the background in comparison to the cart.
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The barn raising scene clearly out lines what the Amish people are about and their strong sense of community. The community comes from all directions to help build the barn, this is the very opposite to the urban world where everyone seems to be individual and do things for themselves. This closely knit community relies upon its strong sense of community to survive as the in the urban world everyone only looks out for only themselves. The sense of community in this scene is complemented by very uplifting and high spirited music. This music sets the mood to this scene and leads the viewer to believe that is how the mood would be when the Amish are raising the barn.
Later on in the film a confrontation occurs in the urban "world" where a cocky youth proceeds to make a mockery of Daniel and the Amish people. As the Amish are pacifists there ignore the taunts and do not react in any way. John Book sees this behavior and decides to take action against the will of Eli and the other Amish people. His urban nature is shown here as he proceeds to fight the youths and give the Amish people a bad name. This one split second decision gives the corrupt police what they need to find Book. The Amish way of pacifism seems to be the best option as violence and crime would greatly decrease if everyone acted in this mature manner. This is a significant difference between these to very different cultures.
"Witness" brings up the "World within a World" concept. The Amish world within the surrounding urban world is one example of this. Another clash of "worlds" is the corrupt police network which is running within the legitimate police force. John Book represents the legitimate and majority of the people force as he is an honest person with intentions to help people and has strong moral values. The corrupt world consists of characters such as Schaeffer, McPhee and Fergie who are all driven by money and greed. When Book discovers this corrupt group he’s does all in his power to expose them and a number of times almost pays with greatest price of all, his life.
In all "Witness" is a perfect text to compare opposites in culture, lifestyles and worlds.
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