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2002 Films on Disc  Stuart J. Kobak ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
       

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Witness B+, A-

US/1985/Color/Widescreen 1.80:1/Stereo Surround/112 minutes/Directed by Peter Weir/Starring Harrison Ford, Kelly McGillis/ Par/CLV/$39.95

By combining suspense and romance in an exotic setting, Peter Weir has crafted a thoroughly successful film on multiple levels. T

he screenplay moves in linear fashion with little wasted motion. Weir introduces the Amish country economically by looking in at a ritual ceremony, then quickly moves along to young Samuel and his mother Rachel. On a trip with his mother while waiting to change trains in Philadelphia, the young Amish boy witnesses a murder in the rest room of a train station. The police interrogate him as the only witness against the resistance of his mother. When detective John Book discovers that the murder has been perpetrated by one of his colleagues he winds up with a bullet wound and flees with mother and boy in tow back to their home in Amish country.

Each section of the film builds suspense, even those bucolic picturesque scenes of the Amish country, though the barn raising, with sumptuous photography and soaring musical accompaniment stands as a joyous set piece.

Weir works marvelously with his actors. Harrison Ford is perfectly cast as police detective John Book, a city man whose honesty is a reflection of the Amish purity. Ford brings great adventure credentials with him to the role, and as a bonus, there is terrific chemistry between him and co-star Kelly McGillis. McGillis has never succeeded in recapturing the enormous appeal she generated in this, her second film role. Weir succeeds through the use of well edited close-ups of Ford and McGillis in creating a barrage of sexual sparks ignited by amorous expressions of the eyes.

Young Lukas Haas, playing Samuel, is a wonderful kid actor. He never looks coy or overly cute. Frequent Weir co-worker John Seale does a handsome job as director of photography, ably contrasting the grit of the city with the purity of the country. The score by Maurice Jarre is very lovely. It’s evocative at times of some of the great western themes that accompanied epic cattle drives across the country.

The lush transfer captures the beauty of Amish country in summer season. The green of the blowing fields and the blue of the cloudless skies are rich and vibrant. The Jarre score sounds full and exciting. The surround information is limited.

 

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Laser Disc Ratings

12 Monkeys Special/A-,B+ 

12 Monkeys/ B+,B

1941 SE/ C-, B-

a la Mode/B+,B+

A Pure Formality/C,B

After the Fox/C+,B

Alaska/B,B+

Albino Aligator/C+,B

Alfie/B,B

Amateur/B+,C+

American President/ B+, B+

Apache/C+,C+

Apocalypse Now/A-,A-

Apollo 13 SpecialA,A

Apollo 13//A,A

Appaloosa/C+,C+

Assassins/C,A

Bad and the Beautiful, The/A,B+

Basquiat/C+,B

Bend of the River/ B, B+

Belle Epoque/B+,A-

Bhagdad Cafe/B,B

Big Country/ B, C

Big Deal on Madonna Street/B,B

Big Picture, The/B,B

Big Trees, The/C+,C+

Bingo Long and His Traveling All-Stars/B+,A

Blood and Wine/B,B

Blue Kite/B+,B

Bogus/C,C+

Bordello of Blood/C-,A-

Borderline/C+,B

Bound/B+,B+

Brazil Special Edition/B+,A-

Bride Came COD/B-,B

Bringing Up Baby/A,B

Brute Force/B+,B+

Bulletproof/C,B+

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid/B,A-

Call Nothside 777/B+,C+

Camille Claudel/ A, B+

Canterville Ghost/C+,C+

Caro Diario/A-,A-
Captain from Castile/B,B+

Casino/ C+, B

Casper/C+,A

Cause for Alarm/C,B-

Celestial Clockwork/B+,B-

China Moon/B+,A

Christmas in July/A,B+

Christopher Columbus(1949)/C,C

Come and Get It/B,B+

Commandments/C+,B+

Courage Under Fire/B,A

Crash/C+,B+

Crimson Tide/A-,A

Crossing Guard, The/B,B+

Cutthroat Island/C, A

Dante's Peak/B-/B

Daylight/B,A-

Dead Man Walking/C+,B+

Dead Man/C+,A-

Dead Presidents Special/ B+,A

Dersu Uzala/B+,B

Diabolique(1995)/C+,C

Diary of Ann Frank/ A-,B

Dodes'ka-den/ B+, B+

Double Happiness/ B+,B+

Dragon/B+,A

Dune/C+,B+

Earrings of Madame de.../ B+, B+

Enemy Below/ B, B

Englishman Who Went..../C,B

English Patient/B+,A

Ermo/B-,B-

Escape from LA/B-,A

Everybody's Fine/C+,C+

Executive Decision/B+,A

Eye for an Eye/B,B+

F.I.S.T./B,B

Face-Off/B+,A
Family Thing/B,B+
Farewell My Concubine/A-,A

Far Country/ B-, C+

Field of Dreams Special/A-,B+

Field of Dreams/ A-, B

Fierce Creatures/B-,B+

Fires on the Plain/B+,B

Firestarter/C+,C+

First Knight/ C-, B+

First Wives Club/C+,B+

For Whom the Bell Tolls/B-,B+
French Kiss/B-,B+
Fugitive,The(1947)/B-,B

Frankie Starlight/B+,B

Freaks/B+,B

Free Willy 2/B-,B+

Funny Bones/A,A

Get Shorty/ A, A

Goldeneye/ B, A

Ghost Story/B,B

Great Escape(MGM)/A-,B-

Great Expectations/A,B+

Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan/B+,C

Grosse Point Blank/A-,A-

Grumpier Old Men/B-,B+

Gun in Betty Lou's Handbag, The/B,C-

Happy Gilmore/ B-, A-

Hard Boiled/B-,B+

Hard Eight/B,C+

Harriet the Spy/B,A

Haunting, The/A,B+

Head Above Water/D+,B

Heat/A-,B

Heaven and Earth/B+,A-

Helen of Troy/C+,B+

Henry V/A,B

Hill,The/A-,B

Hoop Dreams/A,A

Horseman on the Roof/B-,B

Innocent, The/ C, C

Innocents, The/ A, A-

Interrupted Melody/C+,C

Into the West/A,B+

Inventing the Abbots/B-,B+

Jack/C+,A-

Jean de Florette/ A-, B-

Jumanji/ B+, B+

Kansas City/D+,C+

Kentuckian/B-/B

Kingpin/B,B+

Kolya/A-,A-

Kwaidan/A,A-

La Dolce Vita/ A, B

Last Dance/B,B+

Last Man Standing/C,B

Last Supper, The/B-,B+

League of Gentlemen/B,B

Leave Her to Heaven/B+,B+

Les Miserables/ B, B+

Liar,Liar Special/B+,A

Lili/A-,C

List of Adrien Messinger/B,B+

Lonely are the Brave/A-,A-
Lord of Illusions/B,A-

Love Jones/B,A-

Malice/B+,B+
Mask,The/A-,A
Mi Familia/A-,A-
Michael/C+,A

Miracle of Morgan's Creek/B,B-

Mirage/B,B-

Mission Impossible/C+,B+

Mona Lisa/B+,B+

Morgan/B,C+

Mulholland Falls/C+,B

Muriel's Wedding/ B, B+

My Name is Nobody/C,C

Mystery of Rampo/ A-, B

Natural Born Killers/B,B+

Nell/B,A-

Net, The/ C, B+

Nixon/B+,A

Nothing Sacred/B,C

Old Man and the Sea/B,B

Othello/A-,B+

Peeping Tom/A-,A-
Raw Deal/B+,B
Red Firecracker,Green Firecracker/B+,A
Repulsion/A,A

Restoration/B+,A

Richard III/A,A

Ridicule/A-,B-

River Wild/B+,A-

Romy and Michele's High School Reunion/B,B

Room at the Top/A-,B

Rosewood/B,B+

Scopio/B,C

Seven SE/ B+, A

Shawshank Redemption/A-,A
She/B,B-

Shining Through/C+,B

Silence of the Lambs/A,A
Sling Blade/A,B+

Slingshot/A,A-

Something to Talk About/ B-, B+

Spartacus Special Edition/A,A

Species/C,B+

Star Trek: First Contact/C+,A-

Stars Fell on Henrietta/ C+,B+

Stealing Beauty/B,B

Strange Days/ C+, B+

Striptease/D,A-

Sudden Death/ B, A-

Sullivan's Travels/B+,B

Surviving Picasso/C,B+

T-Man/B,B

That Old Feeling/B-,A-

That Thing You Do/B,C+

They Drive By Night/B,B

Thieves(Les Voleurs)/B,B

Things You Do in Denver When You're Dead/D+,B+

This Sporting Life/A-,B+

Timemaster/ D, C

Tom and Viv/B-,B-

Tortilla Flat/B+,B

Trainspotting/B-,B+

Trees Lounge/B-,B-

Trigger Effect/B-,B+

Two Bits/C,B

Unforgettable/C,C+

Umbrellas of Cherbourg/B+,B

Unzipped/B-,B-

Usual Suspects/ B-,C+

Valdez is Coming/C+,B-

Vengeance Valley/B,C+

Vertigo/A-,A-

Virtuosity/ C+, A

Wait Until Dark/B,B-

Walk in the Clouds, A/ A-,

Walkabout/B/B-

Waterworld/ B+, B

White Man's Burden/ B, B+

White Squall/ B,A

Whole Wide World/B,B

Wicked City/ B, C+

Wild Bill/ C+, B

Window to Paris/ B,B

Witness/B+,A-
Wonderful,Horrible World Life..../B+,B

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 Films on Disc 1999  Stuart J. Kobak , all rights reserved.