Peter Weir (1985)

15 Certificate


Our Score
Witness begins like many thrillers, with a murder, this time at a city railway station. The killing is witnessed by a small boy, Lukas Haas, who is a member of the Amish community, a religious sect living in rural Pennsylvania that eschews as much of modern life - notably machinery - as they can. Pursued by the bad guys, the boy and his widowed mother (Kelly McGillis) are protected by a cop (Harrison Ford), who takes them back to their village and awaits the killers' arrival, just as Gary Cooper did in High Noon. Directed by Australian Peter Weir, Witness is partly a love story and partly a thriller, but mainly a study of cultural collision - it's as if the world of Dirty Harry had suddenly stumbled into a canvas by Brueghel. This bucolic world is brilliantly evoked: there is a magical barn-raising scene, a beautiful sequence when an embarrassed yet lustful Ford discovers a half-naked McGillis in the middle of her ablutions, and a telling episode as the Amish endure the hostility of the tourists who gawp at them. The performances are immaculate, with Ford shining in his first serious dramatic role after his action escapades as Han Solo and Indiana Jones. McGillis is perfectly cast, the camera adoring her Nordic beauty beneath her bonnet, and Haas looks suitably wide-eyed and innocent. There are also fine turns by the late Alexander Godunov as McGillis's suitor, and Danny Glover as one of the heavies. Yet it's Weir's delicacy of touch that impresses the most. He ably juggles the various elements of the story and makes the violence seem even more shocking when it's played out on the fields of Amish denial.


A Philadelphia cop is assigned to protect an Amish boy who was the only witness to a murder. Discovering the killers are rogue policemen willing to go to any lengths to cover up their crime, he is forced to go into hiding within the Amish community, experiencing a clash of cultures and unexpected feelings for the boy's widowed mother. Thriller, directed by Peter Weir, with Harrison Ford, Kelly McGillis, Lukas Haas and Danny Glover.

Cast & Crew

John Book Harrison Ford
Rachel Lapp Kelly McGillis
Samuel Lapp Lukas Haas
McFee Danny Glover
Deputy Commissioner Schaeffer Josef Sommer
Eli Lapp Jan Rubes
Daniel Hochleitner Alexander Godunov
Carter Brent Jennings
Elaine Patti LuPone
Director Peter Weir
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Other Information

Language: EnglishColourGuidance: Violence, swearing and brief nudity. Available on: video and DVD