Let’s Talk About Witness

Someone (who shall remain nameless <cough> Stacey Barbalace) has got me watching Orange is the New Black on NetFlix. If you don’t know the series, it’s about a 30-something WASP who is convicted of drug trafficking (one bad decision 10 years ago) and sentenced to federal prison. The show is magnificent! But I digress.

If you want to know more about Orange is the New Black, click the link below.


In the series you get to meet other federal inmates including an ex-Amish young woman, Leanne. When the other inmates find out she was once Amish, they ask her all sorts of questions, including ones about Witness. Leanne exclaims, “That movie has so many inaccuracies.”

Now, I’m no expert, but the movie seems pretty authentic to me as far as the Amish are concerned. But I did notice one ‘mistake.’ Rachel (Kelly McGillis) has just lost her husband but doesn’t wear black as a sign of mourning. Keeping this in mind, I started to do a little digging.

I know Orange is the New Black had consultants and I’m sure that Witness did too. There was a lot of controversy when the movie first came out. I believe it was one of the first times that I had ever heard about the Amish. But those were the days before the Internet and before the enchantment with the Amish lifestyle had grown into what it is today. This article was published in 1985, the year the movie came out.


It’s from People magazine and they are fairly legit. And I can see why he said what he said during the time he said it given who he is. Hope you followed that. <G> But if the movie were released today, I don’t believe anyone would think the same. The Amish (at least the ones in Lancaster) have become quite good at capitalizing on the English fascination with their day to day lives.

Wikipedia says the movie was not well received by the Amish when it released and that the governor of Pennsylvania made a public promise to not “promote Amish communities as future film sites. ” (That quote is from Wikipedia, not his speech.)

If you want to read more click the link:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Witness_(1985_film)

With all this talk of inaccuracies and opposition, I started digging again to see what had everyone all upset. From my investigation it appears that the biggest problem with the movie was the violence. Some even claimed that the Amish would not have let a wounded cop stay in the house to recover. And that may have been true at the time, but I’m not sure. It’s interesting to think about. Yes, the Amish are pacifists, but helping a fellow human being doesn’t mean you condone their actions or lifestyle. Just a thought.

Rachel had already been set up as a bit of a rebel (maybe that’s why she wasn’t wearing black) and seemed like the sort of person who would go against what others might deem proper. In fact, that’s one of the things I liked about her.

So I looked up movie mistakes for Witness, hoping to see the Amish facts put to the test. Instead, I found problems with congruence, a few technical mistakes, and an artistic license with physics. But not problems with the Amish details.

Movie mistakes: http://www.moviemistakes.com/film1619

I also found some trivia.


All in all, I feel that Witness was a great story and despite the controversy, it remains one of my favorite movies.

What about you? Did you notice any Amish problems with the show? Do you remember the controversy when it was released?  Can you imagine anyone else but Harrison Ford as John Book? Comment below before a chance to win an autographed copy of Titus Returns.

And as always, thanks for reading!



Please keep in mind that I would like to start a discussion–a friendly discussion. Please respect other people’s opinions and in some cases agree to disagree. Thanks!

13 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About Witness

  1. I absolutely loved this movie – not sure if it believable (completely), the actors and storyline pull you to make it a wonderful move to watch and watch again. I watched An Amish Murder last week (I had not seen it) and I will watch it again! I really enjoyed that one also. Neeve Campbell was the actress in this one.


  2. Witness is one of my all time favorite movies. I enjoyed the scenery, as it was filmed in Lancaster County,where the county side is beautiful, I noticed some of the places in Strasburg. I could watch Witness over and over again and not be tired of i ( I also love Harrison Ford in the movie) Another of my favorite is An Amish Murder, I watch it every time it is on and I still have it on my DVR from the last time. Another (new) Amish movie is Uncommon Grace on Hallmark Mystery channel.


  3. Witness is one of my very favorite movies, too! I am not far from some of the authentic Amish scenery that was shot in and around Lancaster. Of course the one scene of the intersection on the highway isn’t the same any more. So built up! Even if there was poetic license taken, I can watch over and over and enjoy it each time.


    1. I know! When I was there, they had to tell me where it was because it’s changed so much. But it was still fun to know that’s where I was. 🙂


  4. I loved the movie Witness! For me, I didn’t think about inaccuracies (I was in high school at the time) I enjoyed it as a love story between two people of different cultures that could never be. Oh how I wanted Rachel and John to end up together but I believe it was realistically portrayed and showed why they could not be. Besides the major stars of the film, I felt the Pennsylvania landscape was a huge silent star. It showed the world the beauty and peacefulness as well as the people who live in Lancaster County. Although there has been much more development in the last 30 years since the film was shot, if you take the time to drive off onto the back country roads, you will still see that the landscape hasn’t changed.


    1. Well put, Patti! It’s one of the few movies where it’s okay (yes, just okay) with me that they don’t end up together on screen. (See how I did that? We don’t know what happened two years down the road. LOL)


  5. One of my fav movies, enjoy the scenery, the storyline, the growing attraction between two people who could not be together, the wonder of whether they could/would get together….still, it ended the way that it needed to end. Although I wish it could have been different.


    1. Especially for the time. These days, the Amish are more of a part of the community around them It’s a new millennium, anything can happen! LOL


  6. It’s one of my favorite movies and probably what got me interested in the Amish to start with so long ago
    I thought it seemed to be quite authentic.. I don’t know how many times I’ve watched it, but I’d like to watch it again. 😊


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