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Film Review For Witness

1299 words - 6 pages

Peter Weir ventures out of his familiar surroundings to direct the incredibly scripted film "Witness" in 1985. In this film Weir contrasts the peaceful, serene setting of the countryside with the corruption of the city.The film centres around a Pennsylvanian Amish community and particularly a young boy and his recently widowed mother; Samuel (Lukas Haas) and Rachel (Kelly McGillis) Lapp.After Rachel's husband's death, she and Samuel leave their secluded community to visit Rachel's sister in Baltimore. On their way to Baltimore, at a train station in Philadelphia, Samuel witnesses a violent murder of an undercover narcotics officer. Detective John Book (Harrison Ford) is assigned the case and ...view middle of the document...

The actor Lukas Haas has obviously been chosen, as he is an embodiment of physical child innocence as well as quite an experienced young actor. His large eyes are an important characteristic of small children, making him ideal for the role of Samuel Lapp: innocent Amish child sheltered from violence, danger and suffering. Throughout the film Weir applies emphasis to Samuel's innocence through visual metaphors and other techniques. The first example of this is seen in the train scene. Weir incorporates a hot air balloon into the horizon and we see Samuel wave at it as children do; radiating innocence. The next part of the film focuses on Samuel in great detail, following his actions within Grand Central Station. While wandering around the station Samuel encounters a black clad person, dressed similar to the Amish, he approaches him to discover that the man is in fact a Rabbi. Samuel backs away hurriedly; another insight into the fact that he has led such a sheltered and isolated lifestyle that he is unaware of varying cultures and religions. This is also revealing of Rachel Lapp. No mother aware of the dangers of modern society would allow their child to roam alone in Grand Central Station. This indicates that Rachel is not, in fact, aware of the dangers of modern society.In the bathroom scene Samuel witnesses the murder of the narcotics agent. Close up shots of his wide ayes peering through the crack in the bathroom door again emphasise his innocence and vulnerability. The audience sees the murder through Samuel's eyes, which makes the audience feel sympathy for the frightened young boy.John Book is introduced to the plot immediately after the homicide; he takes charge of the case and of the Lapp mother and child. When he flees to Pennsylvania to stay with the Lapp family he faces the difficult task of being accepted into the Amish community. Weir uses several of his typical visual metaphors to convey this and contrasts between Book and the male members of the Amish settlement. When Book first arrives there are two things of significance, which will only become apparent later in the film. He crashes into the birdhouse knocking it over and destroying it. This is significant as the birdhouse represents the peace and freedom of the Amish world. Secondly, Book rebuilds the birdhouse the night before McFee, Fergie and Schaeffer come for him, this signifies that he intends to leave, as well as the restoration of peace to the Amish people.Another example of Book's assimilation into the Amish community is when John is...

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