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.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orange_Is_the_New_Black

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.

http://people.com/archive/john-hostetler-bears-witness-to-amish-culture-and-calls-the-movie-witness-a-mockery-vol-23-no-10/

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.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0090329/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!

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