Oscar Night Musings: Witness

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By Kevin Williams, Amish Cook Editor

The Academy Awards are on tonight so I thought I’d take this moment to reflect on the movie from which almost everything Amish in film is measured against: Witness.  Witness was nominated for eight Oscars and ultimately won two, one of which was Best Original Screenplay.   This movie, starring Harrison Ford, is one I have seen – not surprisingly – probably 10 or 12 times, at least.  And I love the movie just as much each time.  Yes, it’s fiction, but I do think it is respectful fiction and that sentiment increases as the current batch of Amish-themed TV gets put on the airwaves. At least Witness is an honest entertainment movie not masquerading as a documentary.  The plot is at least somewhat plausible.  Yes, some of the more immodest moments are pretty implausible, but the film doesn’t ignore the human elements of the Amish.  The movie does Amish country justice in its scenery portrayal of the beauty and peace of Lancaster County and I think the film does a good job of highlighting the inherent tension between Amish and non-Amish society.  In an interview conducted a year or two ago I heard Harrison Ford say that the movie has “held up well” over time and I agree with that sentiment.  The movie was released in 1985, but I think most of the messages of the movie and Amish portrayals hold up just as well today as they did then.

I think the barn-raising scene is probably my favorite, along with the scene where John Book decks the bullying townsfolk.  That scene was, perhaps, a bit overplayed and improbable, but it was entertaining.

Do you have a favorite scene from Witness?

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The Discussion


  1. I saw an interview with Harrison Ford where he was asked which of his movies would he like to watch again, he replied Witness. I also liked the part where, when he decked the young boy, when Eli told him no, that wasn’t their way, he said “It’s my way!”

    I guess my favorite (so many) was near the end when they met at the birdhouse.

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  2. That is a good movie! I like the dancing in the barn scene and “be careful out there among the English”.

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  3. I have seen Witness a lot of times also.My favorite scene is any scene with Harrison Ford in it! LOL! I loved that movie.

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  4. Carolyn Kirk says:


    I haven’t seen this movie. Maybe I’ll check it out.

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  5. I’ve seen the movie so many times I can’t count it. Favorite music is from the barn raising scene. When I hear it I get goosebumps. I have a lot of favorite scenes. It’s a movie full of favorites. “Honey, that’s GREAT coffee!” I think for a long time most people who became interested in the Amish it was because of Witness.

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  6. jennifer shaffer says:


    this may sound strange, the scene where the guy drowns in the corn bin is not my favorite but an awesome teaching tool. my husband and i have preached this to our boys, ages 11 and 14, from the time they could walk.
    i think that scene is as real as it gets. finally our boys can see what can really happen when you climb into a grain bin.

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    • Jennifer, I am actually with you on this one..that corn bin drowning is probably my least favorite scene…just sort of gruesome…but you are correct, that is a real hazard on farms, so glad you use it as a “teachable moment!”

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