Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Witness (1985)

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. [imdb]

Nominated for 8 Oscars:

Best Picture
Best Director: Peter Weir
Best Actor: Harrison Ford
Best Original Screenplay (WINNER)
Best Cinematography
Best Original Score
Best Editing (WINNER)
Best Art Direction

Just like in the case of Wall Street, I had seen scenes of this film before, but I'll pretend like it's the first time. I dunno why I imagined this to be relaxing; it was in a way, but just because it's so simple and unoriginal that it required no special focus. Or maybe I wanted to solve the mystery of Best Actor 1985, and now I can say that Ford, Garner and Nicholson had nothing to do with any Best line-up.
The film as a whole is disappointing, but not as much as the pieces themselves. Of course, I found some good parts, actually just one: the guy being crushed by the corn (or whatever that was), it was a beautifully shot scene. And Peter Weir does the best he can with a screenplay of suffocating mediocrity. The ending itself proves how unspecial the screenplay is and, as a somewhat screenplay-writer myself, I can guarantee that was the ending-solution of someone who had no idea how to end an uninteresting story. Peter Weir saves it by making it look more sophisticated or deep; but it wasn't.
What's more painful about the screenplay win is the terrific competition (haven't seen all, but boy do the sound interesting AND original): The Official Story, Brazil, Back to the Future, Purple Rose of Cairo. The editing Oscar is silly when put next to Out of Africa's nomination, the original music sounded like it was for a Science-Fiction, while the Art Direction nomination is... unimaginable, yet true.
I don't want anybody to think I hated it. NO, I didn't. It's just a terribly overrated film with almost nothing special compared to any OK good police flick. Ford is fine for the role, but gives his same usual ok performance, and Kelly McGillis is just good.
My rating for the film: 6/10. One of the most undeserving screenplay wins ever.


  1. Gosh, Back to the Future and The Official Story had great screenplays! I've not seen the other three though, including this one...all I know is that my dad loves it. Haha.

  2. I first saw Witness on a plane as a small boy around the time it came out and was utterly traumatised by the thought of getting stuck in a grain mill.

    Couldn't watch it agian for about 10 years.

  3. wow, what was the chance of THAT happening? did u ever have anything to do with that kind of a farm? :)

  4. My Godfather's a diary farmer so I knew all about the dangers of cows, but grain was totally new to me - and petrifying.