Sunday, 6 November 2011

"Witness" Murder Scene Analysis - Peter Weir, 1985

The opening murder scene from "Witness" starts with the Amish boy looking up at an angelic statue. It then cuts to an over-the-shoulder shot of the angel looking down-this gives the feeling that the angels are looking down on him, and watching over him. The costume of the Amish boy is also very important. The Amish look stands out clearly in the station, and isolates him as the minority group. Also his hat looks like a halo above his head. This supports the heavenly theme and makes him look innocent.

The shot in the station that shows only the Amish boy and his Mother (a bad, stereotypical representation of a woman - a single mother who seems quite vulnerable) is a vital shot. The angle at which it is shot makes a vanishing point. The Vanishing point, which leads to the murder location, looks like a hostile environment which should be avoided. This is emphasized by the darker lighting in that area of the shot. Having the Amish Mother and son all on their own adds to the aforementioned feeling of them being a minority group. This makes them look very vulnerable. When the boy goes off to the toilet it shows that the mother is naive - she doesn't realise the treat of sending a little boy to a public toilet as the Amish community is a trusting community that does not usually come under great threat.

When in the toilet, the different camera shots tell us a lot about the characters. There are high low angle shots of the men which makes them look important, and the size of the boy makes him seem very vulnerable. Also, the environment is dank, dark, and claustrophobic-a classic thriller location. There is ambient lighting of the toilet. When the boy goes into the toilet he does not lock the door-again, this shows how trusting he is. The narrow opening also shows us that he can see the man washing himself over the sink. This is reinforced by the point of view shot through the door which shows the man washing himself over the sink. however it also shows that he cannot see everything-he cannot see the black man. The actual murder is mainly shown from the Amish boy's point of view. All of the shots are either close up shots of the head and shoulders of the characters or simple shots e.g. of the boy's hands. The close ups show the importance of the characters and their facial expressions, and the other shots show things that are vital to the scene and it's feel.

When the toilet cubicles are being searched, the shot of the black man's feet and the cubicles banging is a very well-constructed shot. The banging of the cubicles is getting nearer and nearer to the boy, and the tension is built up brilliantly. The close up shots of the boy locking the door are simple and effective as the subtle motion of the boy continues to build up the tension.

When the boy makes his escape from the toilet cubicle, the moment where he drops his hat is very important. As the hat is like a halo, its is like he has lost his innocence because of what he has witnessed. Then, when the murderer - a black man (this is a bad representation of black men - the black man is the enemy, the villain, the bad one) enters the toilet, colour is very important. The colour of his suit is a dirty, muddy brown colour like the toilet he is in, and his red tie signifies blood and violence. Straight after this, he stands up in the toilet in a shape like a crucifix-this shows him as a Christ figure. When he stands up here it is also the first time we see him without his hat (halo)-and innocence.

There is then a great cut to the policeman outside in the station. This scene starts with Harrison Ford, the hero figure, coming out of a light blue-lit doorway. The blue lighting immediately makes us think he is the hero of the film. This is because light blue is a colour associated with good. The light blue also makes us think he is a policeman-again, this is due to the light blue colour being associated with the Police.

1 comment:

  1. Your analysis is becoming more confident, do develop your vocabulary for example "bad" stereotype!! Avoid words like bad and say the mother is a female stereotype who is represented as passive and isolated.

    Target, developing vocabulary and when analysing lighting explain the purpose of ambient or non ambient lighting.