Another glimpse at Witness

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“You’re making a mistake.”

One of my favorite movie scenes and maybe one of the most misinterpreted of all time.

Harrison Ford, a cop hiding out among the Amish, has just found out that his partner has been killed by a cadre of corruption within his department, comes upon a group of rednecks, who had nothing better to do but hassle some Amish brothers with their ice cream cones.

[Book moves to intervene against some locals harassing the Amish]
Eli Lapp: It’s not our way.
John Book: It’s my way.

Seconds later Ford is spilling the street with the blood of the misguided hoodlums and the audience (me included – I admit it) is going crazy just like they do at a Who concert when Roger Daltry screams out “They’re all wasted!”

Looking at it shallowly, the audience has grown to sympathize with the Amish characters and they’re happy to see Ford kick some ass for their benefit, but in reality, it’s John Book’s undoing.

He’s blown his cover and the violence of his world is about to rain down upon his peaceful Amish sabbatical.

It’s clear at the end of the movie that Kelly McGillis can’t leave her family and join Ford in the modern world, but what’s keeping Book from staying with McGillis. He has nothing waiting for him on the outside, but loneliness and a corrupted workplace. So, why can’t he stay? It’s because he’s been corrupted by violence. It is his way. In the end, he’s broken too many skulls to stop now.

Bloody a couple rednecks, lose a hot chick. Book was the one making the mistake. Aren’t you ashamed that you cheered?

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