Review: ‘Witness’

Witness is at times a gentle, affecting story of star-crossed lovers limited within the fascinating Amish community. Too often, however, this fragile romance is crushed by a thoroughly absurd shoot-em-up, like ketchup poured over a delicate Pennsylvania Dutch dinner.

Witness is at times a gentle, affecting story of star-crossed lovers limited within the fascinating Amish community. Too often, however, this fragile romance is crushed by a thoroughly absurd shoot-em-up, like ketchup poured over a delicate Pennsylvania Dutch dinner.

Australian director Peter Weir is obviously awed by the Amish, the quaint agrarian sect which maintains a 17th-century lifestyle, forsaking all modern conveniences while maintaining intense religious vows, including a pacifism most pertinent here.

Venturing outside the community on a trip to see her sister, recently widowed Kelly McGillis is drawn unfortunately into the 20th century when her young son (Lukas Haas), witnesses a murder in the men’s room at the train station.

Enter gruff, foul-mouthed, streetwise detective Harrison Ford, whom the writers [story by William Kelley, Pamela Wallace, Earl W. Wallace] must somehow get out into the countryside as soon as possible so the cross-cultural romance can begin.

Witness warms up as the attraction builds between Ford, McGillis and Haas – all performing excellently through this portion. Admirable, too, is Ford’s growing admiration for the people he’s been thrown among.

1985: Best Original Screenplay, Editing.

Nominations: Best Picture, Director, Actor (Harrison Ford), Cinematography, Art Direction, Original Score

Witness

Production

Paramount. Director Peter Weir; Producer Edward S. Feldman; Screenplay Earl W. Wallace, William Kelley; Camera John Seale; Editor Thom Noble; Music Maurice Jarre; Art Director Stan Jolley

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1985. Running time: 112 MIN.

With

Harrison Ford Kelly McGillis Josef Sommer Lukas Haas Danny Glover Alexander Godunov
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