troperville

tools

toys


main index

Narrative

Genre

Media

Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
random
Film: Witness

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 provides examples of:

  • Actual Pacifist: Naturally. Though in a very humanizing moment, that doesn't mean Daniel can't enjoy the sight of some jerks who were harrassing him getting their asses kicked.
  • 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.
  • Amish
  • The Bad Guys Are Cops
  • Barn Raising: Probably the film's most famous scene.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The Amish.
  • But Now I Must Go: Book, at the end.
  • The Cast Show Off: Harrison Ford is a skilled carpenter in real life, and demonstrates carpentry skills several times in the film.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The grain silo.
  • Cool Old Guy: Eli Lapp.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Daniel. Apart from a pointed question about when Book is going to leave, he doesn't create any problems re him and Rachel. Justified in that his patient courting is implied to win out in the end when Book leaves.
  • The Dragon: McFee.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • The German dialect used by the American Amish (so-called Pennsylvania German) is quite distinct from its European counterparts.
  • Have You Told Anyone Else?: When Book finds out that the perpetrator of a recent cop murder is a narcotics detective, and upon further investigation realizes said detective was involved in the theft of confiscated drugs, he goes to Police Chief Schaeffer and, upon telling everything he knows, is asked whether he has told anyone else. When Book says no, Schaeffer tells him to keep it quiet. Justified by the fact that Book trusts Schaeffer and, as a police corruption case, it would make sense to keep as few officers in the loop as possible.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Jerk Ass: Those redneck tourists in town who harass the Amish.
  • Just A Flesh Wound: Subverted. Book is badly hit and only barely survives getting shot in the stomach by McFee.
  • One-Word Title
  • 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.
  • Searching the Stalls / Indy Hat Roll: The bathroom scene that sets up the plot.
  • Scary Black Man: McFee.
  • So Much for Stealth: Samuel makes a noise just about when the villains decide to leave the bathroom. An Indy Hat Roll keeps him from being caught though.
  • 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.

SilveradoCreator/Danny GloverLethal Weapon
Prizzi's HonorAcademy AwardPlatoon
Weird ScienceFilms of the 1980sYoung Sherlock Holmes

alternative title(s): Witness
random
TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from thestaff@tvtropes.org.
Privacy Policy
11747
36