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File:Witness 8855.jpg

1985 film directed by Peter Weir and starring Harrison Ford, who earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. Also starring Kelly McGillis, Lukas Haas and Danny Glover.

Samuel Lapp is a young Amish boy journeying to Baltimore to visit an aunt with his mother, the recently widowed Rachel Lapp. Samuel is the witness when two men kill an undercover officer in a Philadelphia train station bathroom. Detective John Book takes the boy into custody to protect him when it turns out that the killers are crooked narcotics cops. After a shootout, Book is wounded and hides with the Lapps on their farm, and ends up developing a relationship with Rachel as he recovers, adapting to the Amish lifestyle and being tentatively accepted by the community. But their idyllic lifestyle is soon shattered once the villains figure out where they went and descend upon the unsuspecting Amish town with their guns.


This film contains examples of:

  • Amish
  • An Aesop: The film depicts violence as never being the answer and depicts it unpleasantly and having negative consequences. As satisfying as it may be to the viewer, Book angrily punching the Jerkass tourist who was bullying Daniel is what allows Schaeffer to track him down. At the opposite end, the movie, by this same logic, avoids having Book kill Schaeffer in favor of a nonviolent conclusion.
  • Barn Raising: Probably the film's most famous scene.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The Amish.
  • But Now I Must Go: Book, at the end.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The grain silo.
  • Cool Old Guy: Eli Lapp.
  • The Dragon: McFee.
  • Enforced Method Acting: Kelly Mc Gillis lived in an Amish community for a few months to understand her character, which involved her giving up smoking the whole time. She was also kicked by a cow.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: This is how the Amish win through nonviolence. They passively witness Schaeffer doing evil, meaning he'd have to slaughter every man, woman and child in the village to keep his secret. He realizes that he cannot bring himself to go that far and gives up.
  • Foot Focus: The female lead washing her feet (and the rest of herself), quickly followed by more generic Fanservice.
  • Gratuitous German: The Amish. Sometimes mangled to the point of being unintelligible, but possibly justified by the Amish being an isolated community that has very little (if any) contact to other German speakers and also speaks English most of the time.
  • He Knows Too Much
  • Heroic BSOD: Book has a couple. Notably, this is the reason he finally hauls off and punches out the tourist picking on Daniel: he'd just learned his partner Carter had been killed and the tourist picked then of all times to push Book's buttons.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: McFee is getting too old for this shit.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Book's reason for leaving. He knows Daniel will make a better husband for Rachel and father for Samuel.
  • Jerkass: Those redneck tourists in town who harass the Amish.
  • Just a Flesh Wound: Brutally subverted. Book is badly hit and only barely survives getting shot in the stomach by McFee.
  • Perfect Pacifist People: The Amish. They still come to the rescue at the end, though, in their own way.
  • Punch Clock Villain: Schaeffer has a family and doesn't seem as vicious as his two overzealous henchmen.
  • Put Down Your Gun and Step Away: Done twice. First by Schaeffer to Book when he has Rachel hostage, and later by the Amish to Schaeffer. Surprisingly it works, and Schaeffer is shamed into surrendering after realizing he can't actually kill Samuel.
  • Scary Black Man: McFee.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Rachel and Book. Their relationship is pretty much doomed from the get-go.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Played with and subverted. Schaeffer initially seems hellbent on killing Samuel for witnessing the murder but he finds himself unable to actually do it when the time comes, and is shamed into giving up.
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