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Witness 1Witness (1985)

Directed by Peter Weir

Written by William Kelley, Pamela Wallace, Earl W. Wallace

Starring: Harrison Ford, Kelly McGillis, Lukas Haas, Danny Glover, Josef Sommer

Detective John Book’s (Ford) only witness to a brutal murder is a young Amish boy named Samuel (Haas). Now John is hiding amongst the Amish with Samuel and his mother (McGillis). His only hope is to keep them alive long enough to bring out the truth.

Witness 6This film is a classic thriller written by William Kelley (The Winds of Kitty Hawk), Pamela Wallace (If These Walls Could Talk), and Earl W, Wallace (Rose Hill). For their work on the story and the screenplay, the trio was awarded an Oscar for Best Screenplay. Director Peter Weir (The Truman Show) took on the project, earning himself an Academy Award nomination for Best Director. The cast is led by Harrison Ford (42) and Kelly McGillis (Top Gun). The cast also includes Lukas Haas (Brick), Danny Glover (The Color Purple), and Josef Sommer (The Sum of All Fears).

Witness 2This is a wonderfully written thriller that works from beginning to end with little to slow it down. The world of the Amish gave the writers some interesting material to work with. In addition to the differences with the dialogue, the story takes advantage of the vast cultural divide between Book and the Amish people. The suspense built into the story is wonderful. Throughout the movie, the intensity slowly builds, allowing the climax of the film to shine. This is a story worthy of the Oscar win.

Witness 3The acting in this movie is also great. Harrison Ford was nominated for Best Leading Actor, eventually losing out to William Hurt (Kiss of the Spider Woman). This is a great example of his ability to bring the intensity to the emotions of his character. He also has great chemistry with Kelly McGillis and Lukas Haas. For McGillis, this marks one of the best performances of her career. Lukas Haas also does a great job with his role, despite being only eight years old at the time the film was released. Add in nice work from Sommer and Glover, and you’ve got a well-acted thriller that doesn’t seem to have any weaknesses in the cast.

Witness 9The film features a number of nice aspects. In addition to the awards already mentions, this movie was nominated for five additional Oscars. The film won for Best Editing. The other nominations include Best Picture, Best Set Decoration, Best Cinematography, and Best Original Score. The visuals do benefit from great visuals throughout. The sets and locations used are wonderful. Ironically, the score is one of the few things that dates this movie. While it might have been a success in 1985, now it feels dated and overly simple. This doesn’t hurt the film overall, but it is noticeable during some of the more intense moments in the movie.

Witness 10Overall, this is an awesome movie for anyone who loves thrillers. The setting varies between the big city and a small Amish community, creating some interesting moments for both cultures being depicted. The movie is a great choice for fans of Harrison Ford, Kelly McGillis, or anyone else in the cast. I would also recommend this to anyone who loves a well-written story. I give this one 4.8 out of 5 stars.

Rating: R

Running Time: 112 Minutes


  1. Good review. Saw this one awhile back and it’s such a surprise that this is the only performance Harrison Ford has ever been nominated for an Oscar for. Still though, it’s a fine performance from him all the same.


    1. He’s got the unfortunate stigma of being an action star, as though it somehow requires less from him. I would put him in the same category as Tom Cruise. Not that I’m comparing the two. Only that their roles are demanding, but not often written for the critics the was other roles are.


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