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.

Director:

Writers:

(story by), (story by) | 3 more credits »
Reviews
Popularity
2,723 ( 52)

Watch Now

From $2.99 on Amazon Video

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

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

When the female deputy prosecutor R.K. Sabich had an affair with is murdered, he is chosen to lead the investigation. However, when he digs too deeply, he finds himself framed for the murder.

Director: Alan J. Pakula
Stars: Harrison Ford, Raul Julia, Greta Scacchi
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

CIA Analyst Jack Ryan is drawn into an illegal war fought by the US government against a Colombian drug cartel.

Director: Phillip Noyce
Stars: Harrison Ford, Willem Dafoe, Anne Archer
Frantic (1988)
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

In a hotel room in Paris, a doctor comes out of the shower and finds that his wife has disappeared. He soon finds himself caught up in a world of intrigue, espionage, gangsters, drugs and murder.

Director: Roman Polanski
Stars: Harrison Ford, Betty Buckley, Emmanuelle Seigner
The Fugitive (1993)
Action | Adventure | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Dr. Richard Kimble, unjustly accused of murdering his wife, must find the real killer while being the target of a nationwide manhunt.

Director: Andrew Davis
Stars: Harrison Ford, Tommy Lee Jones, Sela Ward
Patriot Games (1992)
Action | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

When CIA Analyst Jack Ryan interferes with an IRA assassination, a renegade faction targets him and his family for revenge.

Director: Phillip Noyce
Stars: Harrison Ford, Sean Bean, Anne Archer
Adventure | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

An eccentric and dogmatic inventor sells his house and takes his family to Central America to build a utopia in the middle of the jungle. Conflicts with his family, a local preacher and ... See full summary »

Director: Peter Weir
Stars: Harrison Ford, Helen Mirren, River Phoenix
Working Girl (1988)
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

When a secretary's idea is stolen by her boss, she seizes an opportunity to steal it back by pretending she has her boss's job.

Director: Mike Nichols
Stars: Melanie Griffith, Harrison Ford, Sigourney Weaver
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Henry is a lawyer who survives a shooting only to find he cannot remember anything. If that weren't enough, Henry also has to recover his speech and mobility, in a life he no longer fits ... See full summary »

Director: Mike Nichols
Stars: Harrison Ford, Annette Bening, Michael Haley
Air Force One (1997)
Action | Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

Hijackers seize the plane carrying the President of the United States and his family, but he - an ex-soldier - works from hiding to defeat them.

Director: Wolfgang Petersen
Stars: Harrison Ford, Gary Oldman, Glenn Close
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

A police officer uncovers the real identity of his house-guest, an I.R.A. terrorist in hiding.

Director: Alan J. Pakula
Stars: Harrison Ford, Brad Pitt, Margaret Colin
Action | Adventure | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

In November 1984, the Soviet Union's best submarine captain in their newest sub violates orders and heads for the USA. Is he trying to defect or to start a war?

Director: John McTiernan
Stars: Sean Connery, Alec Baldwin, Scott Glenn
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A married man's one-night stand comes back to haunt him when that lover begins to stalk him and his family.

Director: Adrian Lyne
Stars: Michael Douglas, Glenn Close, Anne Archer
Edit

Cast

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

Storyline

An 8 year old Amish boy and his mother are traveling to Philadelphia, on their way to visit the mother's sister. While waiting at the train station, the young boy witnesses a brutal murder inside one of the bathroom stall. Police detective John Book is assigned to investigate the murder of the man, who was a undercover cop. Soon after, Book finds out that he's in great danger when the culprits know about his investigation and hides out in the Amish community. There, he learns the way of living among the Amish locals, which consists of non-violence and agriculture. Book soon starts a romance with the mother of the little boy, but their romance is forbidden by the Amish standards. But, it's not long before the bad guys find out Book's whereabouts. Written by blazesnakes9

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

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

Taglines:

Harrison Ford is John Book - A big city cop who knows too much. His only evidence: a small boy who's seen too much... See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

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
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Alexander Godunov would, 9 years later, play the role of "Amish Dad" in the movie North (1994). See more »

Goofs

At the time this movie was made, Amish carriages were not required to have reflectors. Since then, an agreement between the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and the Amish community has required the reflectors to be present. See more »

Quotes

Townsman: [Book, dressed in Amish clothes, has just finished severely beating a local youth who was harassing Daniel Hochleitner] Never seen anything like it in all my years!
Daniel Hochleitner: He's from Ohio, my cousin.
Townsman: Well, them Ohio Amish must be... different. Around here, the brethren don't have any of that kinda fight in 'em! Good day to you, Mr. Lapp! This ain't good for the tourist trade, you know! Tell that to your Ohioan friend!
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

(WHAT A) WONDERFUL WORLD
(1959)
Written by Sam Cooke, Herb Alpert and Lou Adler
Performed on a radio by Greg Chapman
Also partially sung by Harrison Ford (uncredited) and danced by him with Kelly McGillis (uncredited)
Courtesy of Abkco Music, Inc.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Though it obeys some of the Hollywood formulas, "Witness" proves to be one of the most entertaining, exciting thrillers of all time!
3 October 2001 | by (Jersey City, NJ) – See all my reviews

I just recently watched this movie in my Development of Film class. We're studying the Social Drama. Last week we watched "Fury" with Spencer Tracy, so this week we watched a contemporary film in the genre. I have to give it up for Peter Weir! He did a spectacular job!

The premise is intriguing. A young Amish boy goes to the bathroom in a train station and witnesses a bloody murder. Enter Philadelphia cop John Book (Harrison Ford). Now, we had several discussions about this film and I started to realize some flaws that didn't exactly come clear in my mind at the time. First of all, a little innocent Amish boy isn't going to witness something that grisly and recover that well. Living in an Amish environment, he probably doesn't even know the definition of the word "violence." So the boy wouldn't be able to return to his native environment and go on with his life like usual. He'd keep having nightmares and flashbacks. He'd be traumatized 'til the day he dies! However, I have to note Lukas Haas delivered a terrific performance. I'm not sure how much appraise he got for this moderately thankless role. For a boy of his age to take on a role like that, I have to commend him. Lukas, in recent years, has concentrated on more independent works like "Boys" with Wynona Ryder and the underrated "johns" with David Arquette, in which he plays a gay prostitute. He's still a fine actor, and I'm impressed to see his advancement to more grown-up roles, but many probably forgot about him. So I think he should be remembered for that little role, even to this day. But typical Hollywood, Harrison Ford agrees to do a film--he's the star! And the whole subplot with the little boy gets pushed aside. Now, Harrison was terrific in this movie--probably why I wasn't bothered too much about him being the center of attention--and I think he's a very underrated actor (sure he's widely known, but recognize him more as a macho action hero than an actor), but I think if Weir decided to expand that subplot it would've made a more interesting film.

Kelly McGillis is convincing as the boy's Amish mother, who gets swept away by Book. Even as an Amish woman, I think she looked beautiful. I haven't exactly been traveling around Amish country, but I don't know how often you would find an Amish woman that beautiful. Plus, that scene where she's sponge-bathing topless--Wow! That brings me to another point. I like how Weir never actually decided to put a sex scene to demonstrate the relationship between her and Book. In the aforementioned sponge-bathing scene, there's a long period where they just stare at each other and there's absolutely no dialogue! I found that very impressive. It's a very erotic scene, without them actually having to jump into bed together. That's something you rarely see in the movies. The sexual tension between the two characters is simply impressed by their mannerisms. Danny Glover is convincingly frightening as the villain. Also look for an early performance by Viggo Mortensen. He doesn't have many--in fact, I don't if he has any--speaking parts, but he's in quite a few scenes.

There's a lot of good fish-out-of-water comedy when the city-born Book tries to learn the ways of the Amish. I was cracking up when Harrison puts on the Amish garb, with the bottom of his pants above his ankles. That's a picture worth a thousand words. Weir is fascinated by clashes in cultures, and it's highly evident in many scenes from this movie. Those scenes provide some good comic relief. This may be considered typical Hollywood, but I loved the scene where Harrison Ford gets out of the chariot (now as one of the Amish) to beat the crap out of one of the thugs who was giving them trouble. That was an awesome scene! Weir also captures some beautiful, sometimes breathtaking, shots of the scenery. The music is great too, especially in the barn-raising scene. The ending is well-done, and I liked how it wasn't one of those walk-into-the-sunset conclusions. I don't want to give anything away, but that was one of the non-typical Hollywood elements of the film.

Despite its now-discovered flaws, I still love this movie and wouldn't mind watching it on many repeat viewings. It's just a fascinating, wonderfully made piece of cinema that will hold its place in the history of celluloid. I urge you to witness this triumphant work!

My score: 9 (out of 10)


45 of 55 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Mike Tyson in the lineup? ozzwepay
Best peformance Harrison Ford ever gave cjgalwey
What Happened to John Book? rjames1973
question about the last shot... rogeruvalle
Voice-over Removal? Did I dream it? danvhay
Cop who gets murdered in bathroom = Anthony LaPaglia?? jamesahab
Discuss Witness (1985) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page