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Reviews & Ratings for
Witness More at IMDbPro »

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

An Impressive Film(SPOILERS)

Author: I_Am_The_Taylrus from Minnesota
17 February 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***


I was very impressed by this film. Actually, I had never even heard of Witness until a couple hours ago. It sounded familiar, but I just could not put my finger on it. Anyway, this is an incredible film. It had terrific acting, and an amazing musical score. I mean, there was happy and cheery music, and there was also a suspenseful and tense piece of music. This film also had one of the best climaxes I have seen in a while.

Here is the plot of this film. A young Amish boy sees a grisly murder by two people in a bathroom stall. A detective named John Book tries to help the young boy find the the killer that the boy had seen. Then they discover that it was an officer named McFee. John tells the police chief. It turns out that the chief was in cahoots with McFee. John realizes that they are in cahoots and him, the boy, and his mother flee to an Amish farm. John tries to live like an Amish person. Then John finds out that his friend had been murdered. The chief, McFee, and the other person involved in the murder named Fergie track them down and try to kill them. John kills Fergie and McFee, and the chief gives up. In the end John leaves the farm.

Overall, this is a very impressive film. It had great acting, great suspense, a great score, and very good cinematography. Harrison Ford, who plays John, is always good in his movies and I think that he definitely should have won Best Actor at the Academy Awards. I also think that this film should have won Best Score. This is a fantastic and unique film that should not be missed. I was very surprised with this film, and I think that it should be in the Top 250 here on IMDb. It definitely deserves to be up there. This is an amazing and suspenseful film that also has fantastic performances by everyone in this film. This film is so close to perfection that I wish I could give it a 9.75, but I guess you can not give that rating on IMDb, or can you?


Recommended Films: The Fugitive.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

A brilliant tale of justice and forbidden love

Author: jamiecostelo58 from United Kingdom
18 December 2006

Witness expertly details the interesting and sometimes difficult lives of people who are not always accepted in the community. In this case it's the Amish. When a young Amish boy witnesses a murder, it's up to Det. John Book to bring the killers to justice. This is probably Harrison Ford's best performance of his career, as Book has to protect the young boy and his mother (a terrific Kelly McGillis) by joining the Amish community and adjusting to their way of life.

It's a very simple script, and McGillis is extremely convincing as Rachel, a mother who gradually falls for the man whose meant to be her protector. The chemistry between McGillis and Ford builds and builds to a divine conclusion, while equally wonderful background music heightens the emotions involved.

The final showdown with the killers makes Witness even more compelling viewing, and certainly proves the point that not everyone is to be trusted...

The lack of dialogue in the scene in which Book and Rachel finally part adds to the sympathetic and emotional impact of their feelings for one another. The simple gaze in their eyes shows this to great effect, and marked a wonderful conclusion to a wonderful and captivating film.

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2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Above all, great directing

Author: Andre D from Barcelona
29 November 2005

This is all about a great directing job by Peter Weir. The cop story is just the excuse to let feelings out from the main characters. Harrison Ford and Kelly McGillis give outstanding performances, mainly due to the way the script is done: the say much more by the things they don't say. Silences are more important than words. The bathing scene is the best example. Peter Weir is able to convey all these feeling and still maintaining a great pace and rhythm. John Seale's cinematography and Maurice Jrre's music are both remarkable. Saw it first back in 85 (I was 11) and now again (I'm 31) and still amazes me... Such a pity that Kelly didn't get the career we thought she would have... A straight 9

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Come Out From Among Them: Be Ye Separate

Author: ArchAngel Michael from Quis Ut Deus ?
15 February 2016

Spoilers Ahead:

The zenith of Weir, almost attained again with Fearless. This film shows you both sides of traditional society denuded of the idealization of Ford's How Green Was My Valley. I loved that movie, but I prefer this one. Book is chasing a corrupt cop who is leaking information. His witness to this cop's killing of a man was a tiny Amish boy. He almost gets killed by the head crooked cop, played well by Josef Sommer, he is forced to flee into Amish country leaking from a gunshot wound badly. He gets them there but passes out from blood loss. These deeply religious people, who eschew all contact with 'the English,' as they call all non-Amish, are forced to care for him, at great risk, for the crooked cops are looking for him. His partner, left behind, does not fare so well. The beauty of the movie is quite transcendent of this prosaic cop movie you have seen before. Weir's movie, with Jarre's excellent synthesizer score, presents a way of life utterly alien to the surrounding American materialistic civilization. An agrarian people who live on the land collectively, all helping and caring for each other, finds poor Book, truly never a more alien being among people of deep Faith. They do their best to conceal him, dressing him and integrating, as best they can, into their simple, basic life. Rachel tells Book, upon his asking why there are no buttons,"Buttons are vanity, they are forbidden."

Though I am not a pacifist, my favorite scene is where the grandfather puts Book's gun on the table, he teaches the little boy. He says this gun of the hand is for the taking of human life which belongs only to God. He asks the little boy if he would use it, he says only the 'bad men.' He pushes it away," For what you take into your hands, you take into your heart, put away the unclean thing." He then quotes my header to him, which is the basis of their whole separation from other cultures. The movie, like Valley, does show the dark side of tradition: shunning. When Book and Rachel get involved, it is quite forbidden and scandalous. The grandfather takes Rachel aside, warning her of her imminent ostracizing by the community. Weir presents and allows you to judge; he remains firmly non- committal. There is also the beauty, the commonality, community and caring for everyone as a giant family. They all, including Book, help a new family raise their barn with Jarre's score deepening the powerful scene. Book's hiding comes to an end for his salient trait, as a cop: violence, erupts in public making him stand out painfully. The local jerks love to harass the Amish when they come into town.

They try it out on Book, it doesn't go well. The violence here is realistic, notice how brutal and bloody it is. Book beats him until he is covered in blood as the Amish look on in horror. This is violence how it is not nice and clean like modern movies. Sommer and Glover find out where he is and come for the boy. I won't spoil it, it ends very well. I love the movie for it shows both sides of tradition: the Janus' faces, the peace of belonging with the oppression of conformity. Ford did this but it was far more idealized; it ends between Book and Rachel as it must end. They could not be more existentially dissonant, I love when the grandfather yells after Book, as he drives away,"You be careful out there among the English!" It is filled with images of great beauty, both scenically and people working together as a family. They are effected by him, but he much more by them. There is great little humor all through this classic. Book is not a very good farmer, especially milking cows. The beauty of America, as it once was, you see in this small community.

The spots are not hidden yet the unity of deep Faith in God, the togetherness, living life as one will stay with you all your days. They are materially poor, my friends, but they bask in their love of God and their community. Yes, it is a good detective movie but it is more, it is a glance into a whole different way of life besides seeing how much crap you can stuff in your house before you die. Weir's Best Movie By A Mile. Q.E.D.

"For Whosoever Shall Lose His Life For My Sake Shall Find It." Christ

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

A Wonderfully Poignant, Suspenseful Film

Author: Helio Copter from United States
21 January 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I only just recently watched this film for the first time by catching it on television. I had been aware of it in terms of the title and Harrison Ford, but had never actually read up on the plot. I am very glad that I watched it. This film is so much more than the crime/legal drama that I had imagined it to be.

The directing, cinematography, screenplay and acting are all wonderfully executed. The contrast between the overt, aggressive world of police and murder investigations in the city with the subdued, understated world of the Amish, is exceptionally well portrayed.

Harrison Ford does a fine job in his role. The single most beautiful performance, though, is Kelly McGillis. As other reviews have noted, she does not have an excess of spoken dialog, but her physical acting, in particular her eyes and face, is incredibly evocative and moving. If anyone should have gotten a nomination, it should have been her. Watching her play this role was a revelation to me. One also has to credit the great performance of the then-very-young Lukas Haas. His impressive turn may be as much a true key to this film's success as any other single element. The rest of the characters are well-cast themselves.

I greatly admired the ending to this film. I think that it speaks to Peter Weir's directatorial sensibilities. In the hands of a lesser director, it could have been far more clichéd, but far less powerful. I was nearly thirty years late seeing WITNESS, but I think that it is a timelessly poignant example of excellent storytelling.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Never get tired of the 'barn-raising' scene

Author: Andreapworth from United States
16 January 2013

Whenever I happen upon this movie (cable), I get sucked in, although I've seen it enough times. It's just a good story with it's own suspense.

We all are rooting for little Lucas and the fact that John Book has to hide him and his mother away from the 'bad guys'. So many scenes are worth seeing again, especially when John Book gets hurt and must rely on the the Amish people to heal him - no doctors, of course.

And of course, when Rachel's father wakes him up at the crack of dawn for milking. And when Radhel gives him some clothes that were her late husband's and explains that zippers and buttons are 'too proud'.

And as mentioned, if you once see the barn raising scene, it will stay with you forever. Truly moving and a real example of community and what can be done by all people.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Poignant and unexpectedly moving

Author: Leofwine_draca from United Kingdom
17 April 2011

One of the most underrated films of the 1980s, WITNESS is a heartfelt exploration of America's Amish community. The Amish are a Christian group who shun modern-day technology in favour of a simple life. Into their midst is thrown Harrison Ford, a tough city cop who must learn to cope with their insular society.

The thriller aspects, while wonderfully handled, come second to the film's exploration of Amish culture. Peter Weir is at his best here, directing some sublime scenes (who can forget the barn raising sequence?) and eliciting strong performances from his entire cast. Ford is fine, but it's Kelly McGillis and particularly Lukas Haas who shine as the god-fearing folk who find themselves propelled into a world of violence and the unknown.

Pretty much everything you could want from a good film.

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

one of my favorites!

Author: legafford from United States
14 June 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I first saw witness about two months ago.After it got finished all I could say was wow! the story is one of the best about a small Amish boy who witness's a murder and a police cop falling for his mother. Harrison Ford is my favorite actor and this is truly his greatest performance! should have one the Best Actor Oscar!And Kelly Mcgillis is perfect as Rachel,Ford's love interest.Lukas Haas also perfect as the sweet innocent Amish boy Samuel who saw the murder. This movie has everything! It has action,wonderful story,heartfelt,and a wonderful,my personal favorite love story ever! If you have not seen this you must!!!It is a must see movie!!!

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

One of my favourite movies - and you'll know why.

Author: Nick Damian from Toronto, Ontario
21 August 2009

A simple story, with heart - yes...heart.

It's not heavy on gun-play, it's not overly heavy on violence.

Imagine that - and with it being a cop story too - set in the big bad city.

How can this be? I don't know...maybe because it was written well and didn't need explosions and the overused police brutality and abuse scenes.

Maybe because Kelly McGillis bears her breasts - and they are nice.

It's just a script which is good from opening scene to close. From the script to the screen, this flows very well and is a masterpiece in itself.

What future filmmakers should watch when developing a small budget story that has significant story telling.

It's close to flawless and will be for years to come.

Somehow they even manged to get the Amish story to be kept interesting...I never fell asleep watching people milk cows or raise barns in this movie.

Yeah, it's good...and you better agree with me too...

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3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Beautifully crafted film that excels where it matters

Author: vovazhd from United States
17 March 2008

Although Witness is labeled as a crime drama, it spends more time showing us the Amish culture than doing any dirty work. The intriguing contrast between mainstream American society and the elusive Amish culture is the main thing that differentiates Witness from other films. The story involves a police captain named John Book. He obtains a child witness for the homicide of a police officer, but then discovers that other officers were involved in the crime. After being attacked and suffering a bullet wound, he flees into the countryside and submerges into the Amish community.

Harrison Ford does a great job as John Book. He has a charismatic and likable personality that suits him perfectly for the role. The Amish characters all look very natural and authentic. I felt that the grandfather made an especially powerful character. The rival officers (acted by Josef Sommer and Danny Glover) take a back seat for most of the film, but are solid characters as well.

The cinematography of the film is excellent. An example of good filming easily comes to mind: the segment where the Amish people construct a building. This part made me understand their ambitions. The steady camera pans of the countryside (with a good musical score) are also effective. It really felt like the images pulled me into their world.

Witness succeeds where it matters: in creating another world that we rarely imagine throughout our own lives, and allowing us to experience this world as if we were part of it. The crime drama aspect took a back seat and served more as a contrast than anything else. A worthy view for audiences of any kind.

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