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Witness (1985)

 -  Crime | Drama | Romance  -  8 February 1985 (USA)
7.5
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Ratings: 7.5/10 from 58,809 users   Metascore: 76/100
Reviews: 164 user | 72 critic | 14 from Metacritic.com

A young Amish boy is sole witness to a murder; policeman John Book goes into hiding in Amish country to protect him until the trial.

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Title: Witness (1985)

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Won 2 Oscars. Another 10 wins & 26 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Frederick Rolf ...
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John Garson ...
Beverly May ...
Ed Crowley ...
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Storyline

Samuel Lap is a young Amish boy who witnesses a murder in Philadelphia while traveling with his mother Rachel. A good cop named John Book must go with them into hiding when the killers come after them. All three retreat to Amish country and Book has to adjust to the new life style, and his feelings for the boy's mother. Of course the killers are still on their trail. Written by Greg Bole <bole@life.bio.sunysb.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

amish | murder | train | love | police | See All (90) »

Taglines:

8 year old Samuel: sole witness to a murder. Three killers who'll stop at nothing to silence him. One honest cop who'll give his life to save him... See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

8 February 1985 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Called Home  »

Box Office

Budget:

$12,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$65,500,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(as Dolby Stereo)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The "evening serenade" scene in the barn, in which Book and Rachel dance, was actually filmed during the day in the heat of the summer. The barn was blacked out and sealed, and that's why both Harrison Ford and Kelly McGillis perspire so much in that scene. The kerosene lantern they had added even more heat. See more »

Goofs

The first time Book goes to Strasburg with Eli to use the phone, the initial shot shows the horse and buggy pulling into a "parking space." On the next shot, we watch John exit the buggy and walk toward the phone. As John passes the horse, we see that the horse has been been chained to hold it in place. As John passes the horse and group of people, we see Eli exit the buggy, then walk up to join the group. How the horse got chained, or who did it, is unexplained. See more »

Quotes

Chief Paul Schaeffer: Calling me at home. I can't trace the call. That's smart, John, very smart.
John Book: Lost the meaning, did you, Paul?
Chief Paul Schaeffer: What?
John Book: Isn't that what you used to say about dirty cops? Somewhere along the way they lost the meaning?
Chief Paul Schaeffer: Now don't make this difficult, John. We know where you are. We're about to...
John Book: Oh no, man, you got it wrong. I'm coming to get you!
Chief Paul Schaeffer: [laughs] I like your style, John. I've always liked your style.
John Book: I'm gonna do to you whatever you did to Zenovich. And whatever you did to Carter, I'm gonna ...
See more »

Crazy Credits

The closing shot of John Book, driving away in his car passing Daniel provides an initial backdrop for the end credits. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Golden Girls: Witness (1991) See more »

Soundtracks

SHOCKING BEHAVIOR
(1984)
Written by Paul Chiten and Sue Sheridan
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
topnotch
13 September 2002 | by See all my reviews

This is one of those movies whose virtues and subtleties become more and more apparent with subsequent viewings. The crime story is nothing more than a pretense - a "MacGuffin", in Hitchcock's phrase - on which to hang this sensitive and insightful story of the conflict between modernity and the culture of the Amish, which is portrayed here with admiring respect and not a hint of condescension.

Harrison Ford's portrayal of John Book is perhaps his finest work on screen so far. In particular, Book's struggle to suppress his rising attraction for Rachel, and his tormented realization that a relationship between them is not possible, is achingly portrayed. Ford's effort is well-matched by Kelly McGillis, whose beauty here is almost breathtaking. The erotic interplay between them, because it is unconsummated, radiates an almost painful tension, and the easily lampooned "running through the field" scene - because it has been led up to so convincingly - is almost heartbreaking. The character of Eli Lapp, wonderfully played by Jan Rubes, is richly multifaceted. His suspicion of the "English" outsider and his anger at Rachel's attraction to him, is surmounted by an underlying humanity. His parting words to Book, "You be careful out there among them English," are moving testimony to his acceptance of him. His stern yet loving dialogue to his grandson about renouncing hatred and violence is a treasured moment.

Both direction and cinematography are splendid. The simplicity of Amish interiors is shot in a way that makes its austerity almost beautiful, and the barnraising scene is an exercise in cinematic lyricism.

It would be easy to fault the movie for the facile scene in which the punks taunting of Book's newfound friends and protectors drives him over the edge (Eli: "It's not our way, Book" Book: "No, but it's MY way."), but his gift to the young thug of a bloody nose is mighty satisfying to behold.

My one criticism is with the music; certainly not with the venerable Maurice Jarre's score itself, but with its paltry synthesized realization. They should have found the money to spring for a full orchestra.

In short, a highly satisfying, richly themed, and multifacted film which is well worth watching.


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