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Analysis Of 'witness' Directed By Peter Weir

969 words - 4 pages

The Amish are a charming people, gentle oddities in today's techno world. They don't do handguns, cars, or telephones, and they're exceedingly clannish in their desire to keep out technology generally and outsiders in particular. The basis for Witness is an age-old fish-out-of-water story: a modern man trying to fit in with the quaint Amish in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Taken on that basis alone, Witness is a success; it's when the "real" world intrudes, with its drugs and crooked cops and dead partners, that the movie falls apart.Harrison Ford plays John Book, a big city cop who's more or less happy with the world and his place in it. A case comes to him just like any other case: A young Amish boy, Samuel Lapp (Lukas Haas, Mars Attacks!), is the only witness to a murder of an undercover cop in the men's room at a train station, and before you can say, "Police corruption," Ford's joined the boy and his widowed mother Rachel (Kelly McGillis, Top Gun) on their farm in Lancaster County. He's hiding from his evil bosses (who kill his partner because he won't locate Book for them) and protecting the boy from them as well. Little Samuel Lapp is the only witness, you see, and Book really wants to get these creeps.Of course, Book and the lovely Widow Lapp are attracted to one another. Problem is, the Amish don't take well to outsiders, and they certainly don't consider it meet that one of their own would become romantically involved with a big city cop who carries a gun and can't milk a cow to save his life. For them to be together forever, which is clearly what they'd both like, either he'd have to stay and become Amish, or she'd have to leave her life behind entirely and join him in the real world.Eventually the two worlds collide when the baddies show up in the farm country. Will Book manage to wipe out the bad guys? Will the would-be lovers live happily ever after? Will Lukas Haas ever lose that big-eyed horrorstricken look? This is a Harrison Ford picture; lay your bets...and prepare to be wrong. Witness' greatest saving grace is the somewhat surprising ending. It doesn't outweigh the utter predictability of the rest of the film, but it at least puts a spin on the well-worn plot.Harrison Ford is known for this sort of role: tough, honorable, and secretly a bit of a softy. There's no stretch for him here; he's playing entirely to type as John Book. He's strong, believable as a tough guy/good guy/lover--God knows he's done this sort of thing so often, he should have it right. The Academy® nominated Ford for Best Actor for his portrayal of John Book; the fact that he's had tons of practice with this sort of character may've been why he didn't win.Ford's performance as a lover is even better, when you consider...

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