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Witness
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Witness More at IMDbPro »

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

The best

10/10
Author: aelaycock from United Kingdom
24 January 2012

"Witness" is, quite simply, my favourite movie of all time. I would choose this above "The graduate", "The godfather", "One flew over the cuckoo's nest" and all the other great films of the last 50 years. It tells a simple tale of innocence and corruption superbly well. There is visual cinema of the highest order in the building of the barn. There is this total contrast between the rustic peace of the community, and the chaotic brutality of the outside world. There is a career-defining performance from one of our great actors, Harrison Ford. All the supporting actors play their parts with understated dignity, I would single out Kelly McGillis who has never looked so beautiful, and Lukas Haas who shows the fragility but also the robustness of childhood. As has been pointed out, much of the acting occurs without dialogue.

Perhaps the movie is now beginning to show its age. Yes, the ending is a bit lame, but it must have been hard to find a suitable ending for such a near-perfect piece of film.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

If you witness this film, you will find it most touching and thrilling, a terrific movie!

Author: Amy Adler from Toledo, Ohio
17 October 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

John Book (Harrison Ford) works as a detective for the Philadelphia police department. As one might expect, the crimes are serious and dangerous. One day, he is called to an unusual case at the downtown train station. A young Amish widow, Rachel (Kelly McGillis) and her son, Samuel (Lukas Haas) were traveling to Baltimore, through the City of Brotherly Love, when Samuel witnessed a horrific murder in the men's restroom. Book offends Rachel right away, with his brusque manner and insensitivity to their culture but Samuel adores Book immediately. Asked to describe the killer, Samuel says it was a talk, very muscular black man. As they are getting the details written at the police station, the little boy in the black hat suddenly points to a photograph. Only Book sees him. Unbelievably, Samuel is fingering another detective, McGee (Danny Glover), who is receiving an award in the photograph. Its an inside job, Book surmises. But, why? Although Book arranges for Rachel and Samuel to stay overnight with his sister, more problems arise, putting Book, the young Amish widow, and her little son in extreme danger. They take off in a car, back to the Amish community, although Book gets shots in the process. Once there, Book is healed with Amish medicine only, as Rachel guesses that the authorities can't know where he is. Soon, Book is becoming part of the community, helping raise barns and making toys for Samuel with his carpentry skills. The peacefulness and beauty of the Amish village is the polar opposite of Philadelphia. He even realizes he is in love with Rachel and she with him. Yet, their two worlds are so far apart. Meanwhile, the "bad cops" of the Phillie squad, including McGee, learn where Book is and they soon arrive in the quaint village to take him out. What will be the result? This is a supremely lovely film, very touching and thrilling, that most any fan, casual or dedicated, will appreciate. Yes, the violence is scary and upsetting but doesn't "take over" the merits of the film. All of the performances, from Ford to Haas to McGillis and beyond, are perfect. Naturally, the scenes in the Amish town are lovely and true while the photography is out of this world. Have you not yet witnessed this amazing film? Book a showing now.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

With a compelling story, excellent performances, and assured direction, Witness remains one of the most successful examples of the romantic thriller.

9/10
Author: G K from Mars
6 December 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Witness is first and foremost an electrifying and poignant love story, but it's also a very good thriller. It is a film about adults, whose lives have dignity and whose choices matter to them. The story focuses on a detective (Harrison Ford) protecting a young Amish boy who becomes the target of a ruthless killer after he witnesses a brutal murder in Philadelphia's 30th Street train station.

Witness is as much about the meeting of cultures as about cops and robbers, this is one of those lucky movies which works out well on all counts and shows that there are still craftsmen lurking in Hollywood. The film is powerful, assured, full of beautiful imagery and devoid of easy moralising, which is good. Harrison Ford offers a performance of surprising skill and sensitivity. Witness is also notable as the screen debut of future star Viggo Mortensen.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

When Worlds Collide

7/10
Author: evanston_dad from United States
8 April 2008

This solid thriller stars Harrison Ford, given his first chance to truly act, as a detective who must infiltrate an Amish community in order to protect a little boy who accidentally witnessed a murder. Director Peter Weir and his screenwriter use the story as an opportunity to examine the culture clash between the modern world and the peaceful, insular world of the Amish. Ford's detective brings with him the violence and aggression of the outside world, but he also brings an understanding to the Amish, and especially to the mother of the little boy (played by Kelly McGillis), that at heart he's not much different than they are, even if their cultures are.

It's a good if unremarkable film, hampered somewhat by an obligatory and unnecessary love story that merely serves to slow things down.

Grade: A-

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Still holds up after 20 years

8/10
Author: t_l_callahan from United States
7 June 2007

I saw this movie for the first time as a child, maybe 7 or 8. And even though I have seen it many times, it is still one of my favorite films.

While the story line is incredible, the acting is superb. Harrison Ford is very subtle in a role that could have been overdone and contrived. He is completely believable as the slightly arrogant, but kind hearted detective John Book. Kelly McGillis is perfect as a dutiful Amish woman suddenly longing to step outside of her community's restrictions. She brings a quiet dignity to a people most of us know nothing about.

The barn raising scene is my absolute favorite part of this film. It shows us the true identity of the Amish people; a community wholly dependent upon each other, and each other's willingness to help out one of their own.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

What a Great Movie

9/10
Author: RNMorton from West Chester, Pa
17 February 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

If you ever wonder where Harrison Ford got his chops as a leading man, all you have to do is dial in this movie. He's effectively understated in role of detective caught up in lethal police shenanigans, eventually forced to hide out with the Pennsylvania Amish. McGillis is equally effective as the mom of the young witness Ford wants to protect, exquisitely played by Haas. Hard to believe Danny Glover is a bad guy but he does a nice job as the heavy. We live near the Amish in Lancaster County and they seem to do a good job with the culture, I don't know enough to say more. Refreshing to have a movie where the love angle doesn't end up quite where you might expect it to. The dirty police angle is handled just a little too simplistically and unbelievably, for which this gets docked a point. I never saw Out of Africa but just the same it's hard to believe it should have beaten this for the Oscar. The barn raising segment in itself is magic. Nice to see a pre-LOTR Mortensen out there. Enjoyably slow moving with a great musical score.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

trivia and tidbits

9/10
Author: Morgan Rubes from Canada
2 November 2005

I'm the grandson of Jan Rubes, so I've obviously got some bias towards this movie. Rather than share my opinions of this movie I thought I'd tell you all some trivia that you can't find on IMDb.

In the scene where Book opens the corn feed hatch the stuntman down below drops the gun in a different position than planned by stunt coordinators and Peter Weir. When watching the movie you will notice that Book is searching for the gun for about 2-4 seconds. It was actually about 20-30 times that long (1-2 minutes) because the gun was not right beside the stunt man as originally planned.

If anyone has been in an acting class and told the importance of timing watch the scene where Book and Eli discuss milking a cow.

Eli Lapp: You never had your hands on a teat before. John Book: Not one this big. The delay is quite lengthy, and then the laugh is classic.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

It's a bit unusual, but it really works

8/10
Author: Philip Van der Veken from Tessenderlo, Belgium
6 September 2005

I've always been a fan of Harrison Ford's work, although I must admit that what he has done in the last 10 years couldn't always convince me ("What Lies Beneath" and "Sabrina" were still OK, although not exactly perfect, but "Hollywood Homicide" is just an awful movie). In my opinion his last excellent movie was "The Fugitive", but he has done some very fine things before that as well as this "Witness" proves.

While traveling with his mother Rachel, a young Amish boy called Samual Lap, witnesses a murder in a washroom at the train station in Philadelphia and detective John Book is assigned to the case. Shortly after the first investigation, the boy recognizes narcotics officer McFee as the murderer. Book soon discovers that McFee was involved in the theft of an ingredient used in the making of drugs and he gives all the information he has to his boss. Shortly after, McFee comes after him and wounds him in a shootout. Book decides to flee and sees no better option but to stay within the peaceful Amish community to which the Lap family belongs. While Book and Rachel start to get feelings for each other, he helps the community as much as he can, although sometimes in his own 'modern' way, which the Amish do not approve of. But hiding for them doesn't mean that the crooked cops have forgotten about him and one day they find him...

I've already said it before and I'll say it again: Even though Harrison Ford now seems to have lost that feeling, in the past he really knew how to pick some very good scripts. The entire story is original and in a way also very daring. Who comes up with the idea to bring violence into the world of the Amish, who are seen as some kind of attraction, as some kind of freak show even? It's an incredible contradiction, just as the forbidden love between Book and Rachel is, but somehow they managed to make a very good movie out of it. It has some action, but not too much; the relationship isn't corny at all; the outcome of the movie isn't too obvious;... I must say I really appreciate that. This could easily have gone wrong in so many parts, but it didn't. This was a very strong movie.

Also very good were the performances of the different actors. Except for Harrison Ford, Danny Glover, Viggo Mortensen and perhaps Kelly McGillis, I can't say that I know any of them, which isn't a very big surprise if you know that some of them are really Amish and no professional actors. Still, they all did a great job, the professionals as well as the amateurs, and they all gave this movie that extra touch which really made it believable and powerful. I really liked this movie for several reasons without having any really negative remarks and that's why I give it a rating in between 7.5/10 and 8/10.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Unassuming 80s crime/melodrama with an uncharacteristic human heart

7/10
Author: Nick Zegarac (movieman-200) from Canada
30 August 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Peter Weir's Witness (1985) is a disturbing thriller set against the backdrop of an Amish community. When Samuel Lap (Lukas Haas) goes into a Philadelphia railway bathroom to relieve himself, he becomes an accidental witness to a brutal murder. The plot thickens when it is revealed that the murder victim was actually an undercover cop. Samuel's mother Rachel (Kelly McGillis) is understandably shaken and apprehensive about having her son testify as to what he saw. But dedicated cop John Book (Harrison Ford) is not about to give up. He installs Samuel and his mother at his sister, Elaine's (Patti LuPone) home – a move that puts everyone in danger. Book eventually learns that dirty cop, James McFee (Danny Glover) is one of the men Samuel saw committing the crime. An attempt on Book's life leaves him wounded. But by then, Book has taken his witness back to the farm – literally – and is in hiding with Rachel and Samuel until protection can be arranged for the trial. Weir's prowess as a director is suspect during the opening sequences. He seems to be just going through the motions – rarely exploring interesting camera angles or staging techniques. But once the plot moves back to the Amish community there is a definite taut and unsettling atmosphere that settles in and carries the film to its inevitable conclusion.

Thank those lucky stars that frame the Paramount trademark mountain that someone at the studio is finally starting to pay attention to the way their DVD's are mastered. After a rather lackluster initial transfer with NO extras, we get a special edition worthy of the moniker. Extensively cleaned up with narrowly a blemish to be seen throughout, this DVD delivers a generally smooth, consistent and accurate film to video presentation that simply sparkles. Colors are dated but nicely balanced. Contrast levels are bang on. Blacks are deep and solid. Whites are clean. The audio has also been cleaned up. Extras include a five part documentary, audio commentary and trailers. Bravo! If only Paramount would readdress its dismal Fatal Attraction DVD of a few years back, we'd have even more to cheer over.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Well Done!

9/10
Author: GTinsdale from New York
13 January 2005

A very well executed film. Not a false note in the directing or the writing. Weir is a master storyteller and it's never been more evident than in this film. A terrifically thrilling beginning and ending, and the middle of the picture is a sensitive, poignant exploration of the differences in the cultures. Harrison Ford and Kelly McGillis play their roles flawlessly, as does Josef Sommer and the remainder of the cast. Were this film to be released today, it would surely be noticed by the Academy. Wonderful use of locations. Having spent time in the Amish Country, this film puts the viewer in the heart of it. A wonderful soundtrack by Maurice Jarre. One of only three movie soundtracks that I have ever purchased. Highly rated.

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