Watch “Witness” movie, then answer the questions below.
1. The “Witness” movie is a “genre mixer” motion picture. Your instructor has identified at least three genre types in the movie. Which ones do you see? (Cite pages from the textbook for optimal points)
- According to the book on pages 71-72-73-77 there are three main types of movies: Narrative Movies, Documentary Movies, and Experimental Movies.
- So according to the book I assume this movie type is an Experimental Movie, because it talks about the Amish culture. But it wasn’t having much dialogue to be narrative. Secondly, it wasn’t showing real events to be documentary.
- According to the book on pages 91-93-96-99-102-105 there are six major American genres: Gangster, Film Noir, Science Fiction, Horror, The Western, The Musical.
- So According to the book I assume this movie genre is Film Noir, because the movie was crime and drama at the same time.
- Now for me without the book, the types and genres that I saw in this movie are:
- First, Suspense, because from the beginning seeing someone getting killed in the bathroom while a kid watching inside, is just to grab everyone’s attention.
- Second, Thriller, someone got killed with no clear reasons.
- Third, Crime, a crime happened and they are investing in it.
- Fourth, Drama, seeing another culture, stairs, smiles, etc…
- Fifth, Romance, an Amish woman fell in love with an English man.
2. The first scene of the movie – is – what? What is its significance to the narrative?
- The first scene was a slow introduction to the Amish culture.
- The director first showed us a long grass. Then a few seconds later, we started seeing people walking between this long grass, wearing black clothes. Few seconds and a horse trolley appears. Then again, heads putting black hats appear from between the long grass, in here, we start understanding that they are Amish people.
- Then a lot of horse trolleys pass again, and a lot of Amish men and women wearing all black and putting hats walking to a house in their village. Then we see “Pennsylvania 1984”. After that, we see some of these Amish people staring silently, and some are crying. Finally a pastor appears praying saying unclear words, standing in front of a coffin. And here we start to see the Amish people’s culture, and we figure out that all of this is a funeral ceremony.
- The movie’s significance to the narrative is showing viewers or the audience the culture of the Amish people, where they live, what they wear, and how they look. We could say here that the director used the “Narration” component, which means the act of telling a story. To introduce us silently with music to the Amish culture.
- The director didn’t use the “Narrator” component, because there was no one speaking or telling us the story, we were just watching and became able to understand without anyone speaking.
3. Pages 130-135 (fifth edition) cover the Narrative Structure of a motion picture. Trace the narrative structure of WITNESS. Pay special attention to all the elements in Figure 4.1 (Narrative Structure Schematic) and identify them in your response.
- Setup: (Introduction): The Amish Culture in their village with their different typed clothes and hats, and the men’s beards.
- Inciting Incident: The Amish buy who was called Samuel witnesses a murder in the train station bathroom in Philadelphia.
- Conflict and Obstacles: John knows from Samuel the real killer, and tells the police chief about that. McFee tries to kill John and shoots him in his chest.
- Rising Action and Stakes: Crap warns John not to come back/Rachel’s father sees her dancing with John and warns her she might be shunned if she continues to fall in love with him.
- Crisis: John knows that the cops killed his best friend Crap/John beats up a group who are bullying the pacifist Amish.
- Climax: The police chief and McFee with their partner come to the Amish village with their guns to kill Book.
- Resolution: (End): Book says goodbye to Samuel and Rachel, then goes back to his world.
4. There is a “clash of cultures” in this movie, which the director illustrates excellently with non-diegetic sound, mise-en-scene, and cinematography. Identify and explain a scene in the movie where an Amish person is exposed to “English” culture, and where an “English” person is exposed to the Amish way of life. How does the director accomplish this? (Need two examples for complete credit.) What might make this particular director uniquely qualified to present this in the film?
- The scene where an Amish person is exposed to “English” culture is when John Book beats up a group that was bullying the Pacific Amish.
- Another example is when the chief of police and McFee come to the Amish village with guns to kill John Book.
– These both scenes are so good to show the Amish people the life of the “English” man. Because they are a type of people who are so far away from murder, guns, and things that bring fear to them, and this English man carries gun with him as a police officer.
- The scene where the “English” person is exposed to the English way of life is, when John Book works with the men for building the wooden house (the barn-raising scene).
- Another example is when Rachel’s father tells John Book to take the milk from the cow.
– These both scenes are so good to show the “English” person the life of the Amish people. Because John Book, who is a police officer, lives in a house that is in a city, not in a village that has cows to take milk from. And also the culture of the Amish people is a type that helps each other, and do care about each other, and this is what John sees when he helps them with building the wooden house, and how they handle him the lemonade to not feel thirsty.
- There are so many other examples that John Book saw in the Amish culture. Like, the phones that the Amish people don’t use. The prayers they say before eating their meals. How girls don’t make relationships with boys. The clothes and the hats they wear.
5. Discuss how the director of cinematography, the set director, and the people in charge of costumes and props help establish Mise-En-Scene in the following scenes:
In the police station (scene 5, positive ID) where Samuel (Lukas haas, the WITNESS) identifies McFee (Danny Glover) to John Book (Harrison Ford) as the murderer.
Book’s first full day in Amish Country (scene 8, plain John) after he’s recuperated from the gun wound.
The barn-raising scene (scene 11). Additionally, in this scene, describe the eyeline match cuts that you see. What do they mean? (Isn’t it amazing how much Weir can convey without using words!)
- In the police station scene: the director didn’t use any dialogue, he only used eye contact and the characters’ face reactions. First he shows us the kid going around between the officers that were sitting in the office. Then slowly, the director shows us Samuel approaching, looking from the glass at the picture that had McFee. The director used light lighting, it wasn’t dim. Also he used the close-up to show us the features of Samuel’s innocent face. Of course with his cute Amish clothes and his lovely circled hat that was the prop. Then the director shows us Samuel looking at John Book using scary features. So John Book understands that Samuel found the killer, ending his call, approaching slowly to Samuel, looking at the picture. Then Samuel points on the picture in the meaning of “That’s him” and slowly John makes Samuel put his finger down, putting his hand on his shoulder.
- The setting: the police office.
- The prop: Samuel’s hat.
- The lighting: light.
- The costumes: Samuel: Amish clothes./John: the police office clothes.
- The makeup: Samuel: innocent features./John: normal features. (the makeup in this scene wasn’t used that much, but we can see that both of them were shocked).
- The shots: close-up shot, extreme close-up, dolly shot, medium shot, point of view shot.
- The sounds: diegetic sounds, non-diegetic sounds.
- In the Book’s first day in Amish country scene: the director uses a dialogue between John and Samuel. Samuel was showing John how the water goes to the wheel and makes it turn around, and goes to the wire, and then to the well, then to the house. Then later John sees the corn place and carries Samuel’s kittens. Later he takes the milk from the cows. Now in these scenes, the lighting was light and dim, it depended on the place. Like when John was with Samuel and saw the wheel the lighting was light. But when he saw the corn place, the light was a little bit dim. And in the cows scene, the lighting was more dim.
- The setting: the house garden, the barn.
- The prop: Amish clothes, the straw hat.
- The lighting: light, little dim, dim.
- The costumes: for all: Amish clothes.
- The makeup: (the makeup in these scenes wasn’t used that much, just normal features).
- The shots: close-up shot, dolly shot, high-angle shot, low-angle shot, medium shot, point of view shot.
- The sounds: diegetic sounds.
- In the barn raising scene: the director also didn’t use any dialogue. He used non-diagenetic music, showing us how hard the men were working under the sun. The lighting in the scene was light too. The clothes that the men were wearing were similar with the circled sailor hats. The director showed us how everyone was working hard, they were all helping each other. He used a type of make up that makes the character look sweaty because of the hot weather. Also one part in the scene that was lovely, is when John was standing working up, and they were beside him, giving help and smiling to each other. Also the other part that really made me feel that they were working so hard, is when the lemonade came and they started passing the glass to each other, and each one took a small sip. This scene really makes the viewer believe how tired they were and how friendly they are.
- The setting: the land where they worked.
- The prop: Amish clothes, the straw circled hats.
- The lighting: light.
- The costumes: for all: Amish clothes.
- The make up: all of them were sweating and tired and thirsty.
- The shots: close-up shot, extreme long shot, dolly shot, low-angle shot, medium shot, point of view shot.
- The sounds: non-diegetic sound.
- For the eyeline match cuts: there was one, between John and Rachel. Other one was between Rachel and Samuel. Another one, between John and Daniel.
– As an overall, the scene was wonderful. It gave me the feel that the world is still okay. I wish time can go back where people’s hearts were better than now. Where people used to love, help, and care about each other.
6. Explain the framing of shots, camera angles and height, camera movement (shot type). Framing, and point of view and shot/reaction shot in the (Breaking the Rules No.10) “Wonderful World” scene in this movie. (Incidentally, Harrison Ford did the choreography for this scene.)
– This scene is the cutest scene in the whole movie, I really loved it.
- At the beginning while the song started which is a diegetic element we see both of them John and Rachel sitting in the car. We see the camera taking a medium shot in this part of the scene.
- Then when John stands up and starts singing, we see the camera go up with him. Then the director used a close-up shot on Rachel‘s face, and also a single shot. Then the camera moved with John while he was walking, so the director used the dolly shot.
- Then we see John and Rachel looking at each other, so here we assume that the director used the point of view shot, because we see John’s face in a shot, then Rachel‘s face in another shot. and also at the same time we can say that the director used the shot/reverse shot in this part of the scene.
- Then while they were dancing together, the director used the extreme long shot, so he showed us them from a far shot. Also at the same time, he used a high-angle shot, because the camera was capturing them from up in the left corner.
- While John was living in the moment and dancing around Rachel, the camera was moving very slowly with him. We can assume that the camera was not using the left or right corner, it was taking the shots in the middle.
- The camera in the dancing part, was using the over-the-shoulder shot going from left to right, and right to left, but in a slow motion so that we get into the scene so deeply. It also was going up and down but also slowly.
- The director used the close-ups and shot/reverse shots many times, especially while both of them were dancing and looking at each other. When Rachel‘s father came, the director used the two shots showing John and Rachel in it.
– This scene is so warm, so cute, so innocent, and so beautiful. I really loved it very much. I repeated it more than twice, and each time I see it again, I smile with no reason. I also saved the song, I like this type of old songs very much.
7. Same scene — what kind of shooting and editing does the film’s director of cinematography and editor (John Seale and Thom Noble) use to accomplish the objectives here?
- The editing in the scene:
- The director used the continuity editing.
- The rhythm of editing was slow, so it can make the viewers feel quiet, relaxed, calmed, and happy from inside, with a light smile on the face. It also makes them feel like taking a break off of life.
- The director used the shot/reverse shot, while both John and Rachel were dancing.
- The types of transition that were used:
- Only the cut transition.
8. Who is the composer of the music for this film? How is music used in this film (Hmmm… the Amish don’t have an orchestra do they?)
- The composer of the music for this film is Maurice Jarre.
- The Amish people don’t listen to music at all.
- So all of the music that was used in the film was non-diagenetic, except one, which was the scene I liked the most, when John and Rachel danced together. This scene had a dietetic music from John’s car radio.
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