Dir. Peter Weir
Scr. William Kelley and Earl W. Wallace
Release Date: February 8, 1985
The older I've gotten, the more I've come to appreciate the simple pleasures of Peter Weir's "Witness." I think Weir is a truly impressive filmmaker, and when he gets hold of a piece of material he likes, he digs in and really tries to make something special of it. At the time, I'd only seen one of his films, "The Year Of Living Dangerously," which I thought was pretty overwhelming as a film experience. I thought it was incredibly well-made.
Weir and Harrison Ford struck gold working together, and the film won for Best Original Screenplay at the Oscars, with Harrison Ford attending thanks to his own nomination for Best Actor. Weir was nominated as well, and the movie got a Best Picture nomination. For a film released the first week of February, keep in mind. The film was a huge hit, and for Harrison Ford, an important part of his ongoing effort to make sure people knew he was more than just Indiana Jones or Han Solo. There were drawbacks to being the superstar of all superstars for the first four to six years of the decade, but Harrison Ford seemed ready to move on and just be an actor. I look at "Witness" now and I think he's great in it. I think it's a beautiful, mature piece of work, and he's steering Kelly McGillis as a acting partner as much as Peter Weir is as a director. Ford lends the film his credibility, and he's repaid with plenty to spare.
The Maurice Jarre score for "Witness" is fantastic, and the way the film is cut and shot and the sort of raw angry rhythm of the whole thing is all enhanced by that score. It's got a great clean action finale. The film just plain plays and it's a look at the Harrison Ford who hadn't had his heart broken. Not yet. Not by this one. After all, he went to the Oscars. He was nominated. So was the movie. That's some serious respect. It feels like a film where Harrison Ford is 100% present, and unfortunately, that became increasingly rare after this.