The significance of this is that the flour is central to the Lapp’s daily life, without it they have no job and the bullets are central to Book’s. The two objects are completely opposite to each other they do not pose a threat to each other as long as they are kept separate (like the Amish and the Americans). When they are brought together at the end of the film people are killed using both the flour and the bullets. This could symbolise the threat that the Amish pose to the Americans, they do not know enough about them but judge them anyway.
The taunting and teasing of the Amish has led the Americans to underestimate (Grain used to kill corrupt police officer) as they do not retaliate. They are pacifists. More importantly the kitchen is where Rachel is central to, working with the flour (which could represent her relationship with her family), it is as if there is a special place kept by Rachel for Book and Book is rejecting this by taking the bullets away like he did when Rachel gestured for him to make love to her. Like people films also have a language, techniques which communicate with the audience and send a certain message.
These techniques involve different camera shots, lighting and sound. Brightness, shadows and darkness can carry different amounts of meaning. High key lighting (bright lighting) suggests a feeling of space, openness and freedom. Low key lighting (dim and shadowed) suggests an eerie and ominous mood. If the director illuminates the face the person may seem innocent and pure. If the bottom half of the face is lit however threat and deviousness is suggested. At the beginning of the film Weir uses a high key lighting effect to illuminate Rachel’s face as she sits by the window at her husband’s funeral.
This is when the audience see her as nai?? ve and innocent. However by highlighting her face we see her natural beauty shine through the unflattering Amish dress. A clue perhaps that someone (Book) will be attracted to her and underlying sub plot exposed. Maurice Jarre who composed the music in Witness used synthesised music principally to help create a feeling of harmony, and thus the music is predominantly light in texture. Even in the murder scene the music mimics the fast heartbeat of the boy, so that we identify with with the boys fear rather than experience a vicarious excitement at the violence of the action.
The song ‘What a wonderful world it would be’ is featured when Book finally gets his car started in the Lapp family barn. The audience sub consciously imagine how wonderful it would be if Book and Rachel got together, however when interrupted by Eli remember that that is only in an idealistic world and realistically without sacrifice remains impossible. To be together Book or Rachel would have to give up their most loved parts of their lives, for example Rachel’s family and Book’s detective work, which we know through what Elaine said to Rachel earlier in the film is what he lives for.
Most of the action takes place in the countryside, in Amish country around Strasbourg in Pennsylvania. The beauty of the landscape is emphasised using wide angle shots which the camera lingers over for example the artistic shots of the corn swaying in the wind. As well as the set contrasting to the city the speed and style of the shots do too. For example in the country long, slow, panoramic shots are taken emphasising the vast sense of spaciousness and isolation from the world. In the city close up, fast paced, busy shots are used.
The shots are close up when focusing on the character’s emotions. For example Book’s anxiety to get the boy and mother to safety and Samuel’s fear as he witness’ the murder. The high dark shot of Samuel in Philadelphia station suggesting his vulnerability contrasts to the bright open shots of him playing confidently in the Amish community. The pace of the shots used throughout Witness match that of the pace of the narrative. At the beginning of the film at the funeral the pace is slow and relaxed.
Daniel says to Samuel ‘Your first time in the big city, you’ll see so many things’, so many things like a murder! The irony of Daniel’s words are reflected through the immediate change in atmosphere to dark busy Philadelphia station where Samuel witness’ the murder. Slow motion is another technique used by Weir in Witness. When Samuel identifies Mcfee as the murderer in the police station slow motion is used. Here the audience have time to empathise with Samuel’s astonishment and Book’s reaction to discovering the fraudulent place he works and that his boss is a murderer.
The shots that follow this scene are very fast and represent the feeling of panic and anxiety that Book now feels. As we have seen throughout the film there is a vast contrast between the Amish community scenes and the American city life scenes. When shots of other scenes are needed in the Amish sets the shots fade in to each other, they flow unlike the straight cut editing used to change from the countryside to the city. I think Witness as a film represents the incongruent atmosphere between the cultures.
The audience are kept enticed by the number of unravelling sub plots that occur throughout the film. Weir shows no evidence of racism which contributes to the audience’s concentration on the main points and themes that run. I think Weir gives a balanced account of the situation that stands and will stand between the two for many years to come, however by showing no evidence of the Amish ‘rumspringa’ no aspects of this part of the community are revealed and thus the audience are led to believe that the Amish are purely wholesome, which we know is not true for anything.
The Amish are perceived to have no individuality in the film, Weir expresses this by shooting scenes of the Amish only as a whole community. At the beginning of the film we are introduced to the Amish as they walk communally showing no evidence of dissimilarity and difference – no shots of their faces are witnessed.