A police detective hides out in Amish country to protect
a young Amish boy who is a witness to a homicide.
Directed by Peter Weir
Written by Earl W. Wallace and William Kelley
Starring Harrison Ford, Kelly McGillis, Josef Sommer, Lukas Haas, Jan Rubes, Alexander Godunov, Danny Glover, Brent Jennings
Oscar Wins - Best Original Screenplay, Best Film Editing
Oscar Nominations - Best Picture, Best Actor (Harrison Ford),
Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction,
Best Original Score (Maurice Jarre)
Witness was Harrison Ford's first non-sci-fi/fantasy starring role that proved to fans and Hollywood that he was not a niche performer, but a versatile, talented actor who could do anything. There's so few films out there that are built around the Amish and their odd but quaint way of life. Peter Weir is one of my favorite directors. Every film I've seen of his has been gold, and Witness is no exception. He beautifully captures the soul of the Amish, and expertly crafts a budding love story between two people from vastly different worlds.
Harrison Ford is John Book, a police detective who is investigating the murder of a fellow cop. The only witness is an Amish child named Samuel Lapp (Haas). Book at first clashes with the boy's mother Rachel (McGillis), but after he realizes the murder was committed by another cop and his captain is in on it, Book hides among Rachel's community while he protects the boy and figures out his next move. While there, Book develops an appreciation for their culture and falls in love with Rachel. It doesn't feel forced, and Ford and McGillis have great chemistry to make it believable. And of course, it doesn't have the Hollywood ending. Their worlds are just too different, they would never work, and they both realize that.
I saw Witness for the first time about nine years ago and I didn't like it. I thought it was boring. Now, I can appreciate the nuance and subtlety of the film. It's a brilliant crime drama that showed everyone exactly what Ford was capable of as a leading man.