The Amish in America – Clash of cultures Amish look like they stepped out of the rural 19th Century. Some 200,000 Amish people live in above 20 US states and in the Canadian region of Ontario and also in different parts of the world like Australia. The Amish are the most traditional and religious Old Order groups, people ride horses and buggies rather than cars and have no telephones or electricity in their homes. Amish believe that the community is at the heart of their life and faith, and that the way to salvation is to live as a loving community apart from the world.
Witness is a 1985 American thriller film directed by Peter Weir and starring Harrison Ford and Kelly McGillis. The screenplay by William Kelley, Pamela Wallace, and Earl W. Wallace focuses on a detective protecting a young Amish boy who becomes the target of a ruthless killer after he witnesses a murder in Philadelphia. The film is mainly about clashing of two ideologies.
These ideologies are those of the Amish, and of the modern English as the Amish ideals are in direct contrast to the American consumerist ideas. The two worlds come together when Book drives Rachel to her father in Eli’s house.
There are many scenes that highlight the clash of cultures starting with the first scene in which Samuel and Rachel are in their stock black Amish clothes, at the train station. They stand out since they aren’t wearing bright clothing like everyone else. Costume is an important film technique, as it shows the contrast between Amish and the English. The costume is also clear in the scene in where Book is wearing Amish clothes, which are Rachel’s dead husbands clothes, and Book says, “How do I look? ” and Rachel responds by saying “You look plain”.
This is seen as a compliment, and her accepting him, also him accepting the way of the Amish. A key scene where book gives back the gun to Rachel after taking it from her shows the clash of the cultures and book trying to fit in with the Amish. This scene is important since book is trying to accept the Amish culture. It is further shown in the diner scene, where Samuel and Rachel are wearing their plain clothes, and doing grace in the city. Sam and Rachel stare at book as he eats his food without saying grace furthermore he is the man so he should say it.
Book is not used to these morals so this shows the culture clash between them. The scene ends by Rachel saying grace then eating their food. Another key scene is the scene in which Eli, Rachel, Samuel and also Book are sitting on the dinner table in Amish land, Book picks up his cup of coffee takes a sip and says “honey that’s great coffee” they all gaze at him and he then says “it’s a joke.. on television”. He realizes that they don’t watch TV and there you can see the culture clash. The scenes where the car is in the farm shows the culture clash between the English and the Amish since they don’t use cars or any technology.
Also the part when Rachel is dancing with Book in the barn since she is not allowed to dance with strangers or use the technology. A major scene is the tourist scene in this Book witness’s one of the Amish people getting picked on by the tourists in which he gets ice-cream put all over his face. Eli who is sitting beside Book in a different buggy then the other Amish says “this is not our way” Book replies “but it is my way”. Book gets out and beats up the tourist. This scene demonstrates the clash of cultures.
The biggest issue that highlights the clash of cultures is the relationship between Rachel Lapp and John Book. They are very different people. Rachel refuses to accept the violence that now surrounds her because of the murder and Book, and she blames Book, saying “I just don’t like my son spending all this time with a man who carries a gun and goes around whacking people”. Their relationship develops through the movie, and she is torn between her feelings for Book, who is dangerous, and different to what she is used to, and her responsibility to the Amish rules, her family and the church.