Witness Textual Analysis

When a university student witnesses a violent murder in the woods, she tries to escape when she becomes the next target. However, is the police officer what he seems?

Textual Analysis:

A tracking shot shows a female rushing home, looking quite panicked due to her facial expressions and her constantly looking over her shoulder. This immediately raises questions in the audience’s mind such as: “what happened?” and “what/who is she running from?”. After phoning the police, there is a montage to convey that time is passing, until an officer shows up.

The audience is automatically wary towards the male due to him not having any identification to prove that he is an officer as well as him asking “is anyone else home?”, putting the audience on edge and willing the female to get out of there as soon as possible due to her being secluded and vulnerable. A fade is used to highlight to the audience the flash back of what she witnessed.

A CU establishing shot shows the audience a peaceful and tranquil woodland, with greenery and ambient sounds of birds. It is then juxtaposed against the violent murder that is about to take place. A muffled shout highlights the vulnerability of the victim. Furthermore, the shaky hand-held shot using the character’s photography camera highlights her fear as well as making the scene seem more realistic to the audience. The murderer is in black clothing, conveying evil and darkness. The intense eerie sound score puts the audience on edge as well as the long shot duration on her as the audience cannot see the murderer, and therefore don’t know if he’s coming towards her. The camera pulls out to reveal the murderer in the background…whom of which is walking towards her. Once again the camera zooms in so the audience cannot see where the murderer is, just like the female and therefore makes the audience experience the suspense, tension and even fear that the character is feeling and the non-diegetic sound effects of footsteps make it more dramatic.

Synchronous sound is used to make the audience jump when the murderer reveals himself, causing a chase scene. There are various shots used (LS, MS, CU) in a short amount of time, speeding up the pace as well as pan shots and tracking shots. It then cuts back to real-time.

An ECU reveals the murderer’s tattoo… the exact same on the ‘officer’ has, alarming the audience. The female’s body language changes and becomes more worried whilst the murder has a sinister smile. When she’s not allowed to leave due to the male screaming “no!”, that’s when things truly become sinister. The murderer reach’s into his pocket and is holding something whilst an ECU shows the female slowly letting go of the handle, illustrating her confinement. When she tries to escape a jump cut highlights his fast reaction and shoots her, furthermore by him shaking and clutching his head, the audience can depict that he has a mental health problem. A HA on the female on the floor screaming in pain makes her seem even more vulnerable and weak. Whereas, a LA on the murderer makes him seem bigger, more authoritative and powerful.

The dialogue between them plays with the murder’s head as she states that she uploaded the pictures and that the police will get there soon but the murderer doesn’t know what to believe. Moreover it gives the audience hope for her survival. Shot durations of one second speed up the pace of the scene and make it more dramatic and suspenseful. She forces the murderer to sit down by stabbing him in the leg, making him vulnerable and weaker as well. CU’s show her dragging herself along the floor but when the murderer’s feet are shown in the background it seems that it is the end for her. However, when he goes to shoot her a cutaway shows bullets coming through the door and killing the male, who slowly slides down the wall and stops breathing. Finally officers come through the door with an CU of the female’s face showing her reaction of relief and shock. The film ends on a long duration MS of the murderer.

My Opinion:

This has a good storyline (although quite predictable) however, I believe that some of the shots could be improved to make it better overall such as a WEV in the chase scene which will intensify the suspense as well as making it more aesthetically pleasing and using a wider amount of shot types.

Media Theory:

  • Levi Strauss (Binary oppositions) – Good VS Bad
  • Roland Barthes (Enigma theory) – The theory which suggests any text (e.g tv and film) makes the audience question something and intrigues the audience, drawing them in. This raises questions such as “will she escape or will he get away with murder?”.

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