Two unique individuals can come together, and fall in love. However, due to their total differences of their cultures, their love for one another cannot develop as both of their cultures can come together briefly but cannot mix. This is evident throughout the film Witness, directed by Peter Weir as the audience can see the awkwardness of the relationships between not only John Book and Rachel Lapp, but also between the mainstream society and the Amish. The core themes of this film are the clash of the two cultures, as well as Innocence and Corruption. The Innocence and corruption theme is the difference between Samuel the child and the crooked cop Schaeffer. Innocence is the opposite of corruption. Peter Weir’s settings represent how the audience sees the Amish lifestyle and the modern lifestyle. The difference between the two societies is shown in imagery during the film. In the opening scenes Book is similar to Rachel and Samuel in that he has retained some form of innocence. He shows this how he approaches them to ask Samuel questions.
The audience is shocked to see that Schaeffer, Book’s old partner and police boss is corrupt. In the final scenes when you see Schaeffer, Mc Fee and Fergie walking out of the car to the Amish Farm to kill Book, long shots are mainly used in this scene. This film shows the difference between innocence and corruption very well, showing its effectiveness in portraying reality. The dancing scene is where the first physical demonstration of their mutual attraction takes place; John spontaneously takes Rachel’s hand and dances to the popular song “Wonderful World” by Sam Cooke. The lyrics of the song state that he might not know much, such as where he is going and what his future holds, but one thing he knows for sure is his love for Rachel. The words of the song highlight the lack of knowledge the pair shares about each other and the contrasting worlds they come from. This can be seen in this particular scene, as John loves the song and knows all the words, where Rachel listens with amazement as she has never heard anything like it, as the Amish culture is not affected by the media.
Throughout this scene, sexual tension grows between them which are shown by the way they look at each other. Weir used dark lighting in this particular scene to create a romantic setting, as well as a lantern which emphasises on the romance, and goes hand in hand with the type of song and the dancing. Close-ups and emotional eye contact are also used in this scene to let the audience feel the passion between the pair However, the strong emotions of the scene explodes when Eli, who is a father figure to Rachel bluntly criticises her telling her what she had done is immoral. He condemns her by saying “You same yourself”, because the consequences of her actions could lead to Rachel being rejected by the rest of the Amish community for breaking their rules. In the farewell scene it begins with John back in his city clothes, which lets the audience know John has decided to go back to his city life. No words are spoken in this scene as none is needed, the body language says it all, John knows he must leave Rachel as he will never be properly accepted and knows the cultures will clash too much.
Rachel has acknowledged John’s decision as she also knows the two of them cannot be together. Weir has used the silence as a technique to emphasise the point that two cultures cannot mix. The use of close-ups is used in this scene to let the audience see both John’s and Rachel’s emotions. Also Weir perfectly framed this scene by having Rachel in her Amish clothes, against the backdrop of the interior on the Farm house, whilst having Book in his detective suit set against the backdrop of a droning road leading to the outside world. In this scene it depicts the message that a choice has been made, that their two contrasting cultures cannot mix.
Eli quotes “he will be going where he belongs, he knows it, and you know it too”. Although love is a powerful thing it cannot withhold the power of the two vastly different cultures. This is depicted throughout the whole film, as both Rachel’s and John’s love for one another is torn apart by their two contradictory cultures, as they are simply to different to mix. Both John and Rachel had to make this heartbreaking decision not to be together, as they knew it was for the best. Witness, is a powerful movie filled with love and passion, however, it emphasises the point the not even love can bring two vastly diverse cultures together.