Review by: Christopher Bligh
Posted on: January 28th, 2012
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Plot: What’s it about?

With a big year critically and commercially ending on a high note, 1985 provided its share of films that made lots of money like Back to the Future and the years best picture went to Out of Africa. In a year of such great movies as Prizzi’s Honor and Brazil, this was a year where the Best Picture award truly went to the wrong film. One film that was amongst the big five nominees for best picture came from a foreign director, a big star and a simple story that is summed up in one word: Witness.

A mother and her young son (Kelly McGillis and Lukas Haas) of the Amish country go on a train bound to visit a relative. During one stopover, a normal restroom visit turns into something more as the little boy is the sole witness to a killing seen through the door of a stall. Sensing many might come out to the Amish country searching for him, Detective Captain John Book (Harrison Ford) goes into hiding to protect the boy awaiting trial on those responsible for the crime. It’s in this hiding out that it becomes more than a job as Book learns the ways of the Amish and gives the mother of the story a little bit of life outside the Amish country.

For a Best Picture to be spoofed in other films tell a viewer how memorable the film is and years later after its release, it still remains so. Director Peter Weir’s less is more dialogue approach with actors works very well here thanks to its main leads Ford and McGillis. Ford is a cop who’s life gets turned around for a certain amount of time and does everything possible to make sure a little boy is protected amongst a certain kind who does not raise their hands to others. McGillis, the female lead, provides what she doesn’t have on the outside but also an expression of settling in her kind without any kind of regret despite a slight curiosity.

It seems that every once in a while when the film happens to be on television, it’s one to lock the channel for. This viewer has always indicated that its a sign of a great film rather than a good film and within the originality of its story and its structure under the simple hands of Peter Weir, Witness is something to look at every once in a while for its a most entertaining thriller that is not afraid to take a step back itself from becoming cliched.

Video: How does it look?

In its second release, Witness gets the Special Collectors Edition treatment in the 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and theres not as many borders as the first release of this film as the print has been digitized resulting in a slight softness of color but being a bit more accurate to its original release when it comes to picture quality as John Seale’s nominated cinematography brightens slightly more on this edition than on the previous release as there’s a slight lack of dirt and artifacts that are now no longer there. Overall a very good transfer that still remains great.

Audio: How does it sound?

There is not much different on the audio portion of this release as this keeps the audio seperation intact balancing score and bass effects. There are a few effects in terms of action but being this is more of a score picture with some dialogue and the natural sound taken in for effect, this remains a very good track on this Special Collectors Edition.This disc also has a Dolby Digital 2.0 track and a French 2.0 track along with English French and Spanish subtitles of which 2 of the three are another addition to the edition.

Supplements: What are the extras?

For this not being the Corn Burial edition of Witness its rather the Special Collectors Edition and with the trailer being the main carryover from the previous release we’re treated to the beginning previews that deserve the skip option for the new Airplane and Tommy Boy editions that can’t help but use a quote for their big edition along with the ever quotable MacGyver first season spot and the only solid spot for the John Wayne Collection.

Away from the beginning, there are interactive menus with scenes from the film playing and in terms of new special features include 3 TV spots for the film along with one deleted scene that depict the little Amish boy and a little bit of Colecovision. It’s only been included on the times its shown on TV and even though its an interesting scene, it takes the timely vibe of the film and dates it a bit.

In addition a 5 part documentary on the making of Witness is included and it is constantly entertaining thanks in part to the evolution of the film told by producer Edward S. Feldman and other players including more interview footage with director Weir and some imput of the cast present day. As far as this viewer knows none of Peter Weir’s films have had commentary with the director but with the impressive interview footage, it’s still great without the commentary and Weir is amusing and fun and informative along with everyone else making it not such a love fest all around but an entertaining look at what made this great film exactly that and there is much to learn.

Overall, Witness gets a slight improvement all around in terms of extras and makes for a very special collectors edition that comes well recommended for anyone that likes to see what makes a film go from great at the time to excellent for all time.

Witness: Special Collector’s Edition
Peter Weir
125 min.

  • (1.85:1)
  • Video Codec: MPEG-2
  • Audio: Dolby Digital
  • 1 Disc Set
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • Audio Commentary
  • Deleted Scene(s)
  • Featurette
  • Documentary
  • Digital Copy