Monday, February 1, 2016

We need to talk about Harrison Ford in "Witness"

By Sati. Monday, February 1, 2016 , ,
OK I'm fairly certain that yesterday I've seen the most beautiful thing ever.

I could just stop typing and collapse, but instead of just sharing that gifset (spoiler alert - then he just grabs her and they dance) and going 'watch it' let me gush about it bit more.
So I put off watching Witness, which is the only movie for which Harrison Ford was ever nominated for an Oscar (and that was 31 years ago, for shame Academy!) because I heard that it has my least favorite type of ending - "Begin Again" waves hello - this one being even worse because it's not only Ford, but also because, God, this just overtook Indy as his hottest role.

There is so much that is objectively crap that I adore because it has him in it - he looks insanely hot in Six Days, Seven Nights but that film is ridiculous - however, so much fun - Witness is both a huge fangirl service and a good movie.
Directed by Peter Weir and beautifully shot by none other than John Seale who blew our minds last year with the explosion of awesome that was Fury Road - the film follows John Book, a cop who is taking care of a boy - who witnessed a murder of another police officer-  and his young mother, a widow. Here is the catch - they are both Amish and when John discovers the levels of corruption in his police department, he is forced to take shelter in their village and pretend he is one of them.

Ford is so well suited for the role which allows him to play the tough guy we know and love but also someone who is genuinely good and kind, someone we really care about and root for. It starts as an action film with him being a cop and then takes this twist which forces him to play the role so subtly and to such wonderful effects. He has such a good chemistry with all the actors, making John so tender and loving towards the boy and especially his mother, played by Kelly McGillis who does wonderful job portraying just how smitten her character is with him. There were times she looked like she was about to collapse. I related to that strongly.
So strongly.

Here is some trivia:
  • Although he once again plays a heroic man with a gun, Witness was the first starring role that broke Harrison Ford away from the science fiction and fantasy genres that made him famous and gave him his first and only Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. 
  •  The film's script has become a frequent model for budding screenwriters, often used to display clear structure in a screenplay.
  • Sylvester Stallone was an early choice for the role of John Book. When he turned down the role, he said it was one of the worst decisions of his career.
  • Harrison Ford joined the Philadelphia Police Department in preparation for the movie. He even joined them on a number of raids. 
  •  Viggo Mortensen's feature film debut. He was offered the part in the film on the same day that he was offered to play a role in "Henry V" in Shakespeare in the Park in New York.
And the scenes that are in here?

Things like this happen:

- he does carpentry stuff
- he fixes a car
- he protects a child
- he drinks lemonade and it just pours all over him
- he again refuses to button up his damn shirt
- he is running around with a shotgun
- while a woman is taking care of him and he has a fever he just takes her hand ever so gentely
- he is milking cows
- he builds a toy for a child
- he is punching jerks
- more unbuttoned shirt action
and then there is this shit:
and there is also this kiss scene where they run to each other and then make out in the middle of the field and I'm telling you I have ascended to heavens right there.


I wish I was more coherent but that was such a lovely film and clearly the visual side has rendered me close to speechless.

Also, I have not seen Hurt's winning performance in Kiss of a Spider Woman, which won with Ford's work here, but really this is a beautiful performance right here. He really becomes his character which is so remarkable, considering how we always associate him with his iconic roles and it's so difficult and rare for a star like that to just become someone else on the screen.

I mean when I'm gonna see DiCaprio on Saturday I'm sure I won't think "Oh my God, poor Hugh Glass!". No, instead I'll think "Oh my god, Leo has finally suffered enough to get that Oscar". Here I was thinking of Ford as Book which is such a rare thing for me to do when I watch an actor I've seen in so many other performances.

And let's just think of that for a moment - Eddie Redmayne is a two time nominee and one time Oscar winner. Harrison Ford, someone who was in this, Blade Runner, Presumed Innocent and The Fugitive (which I saw over the weekend and found his performance to be far and above the usual performances given in an action movie) and Indiana Jones (so Depp can be nominated for Sparrow but Ford cannot be for Indy?) has 1 nomination. Which is older than I am.

On second thought let's not think about that horrendous stuff and just look at those nice pictures.

33 comments:

  1. Wowwwwwwww I need to watch this. I didn't really know much about it so thank you for directing me towards it. As for Ford, I couldn't even look at the "birdhouse" gif for too long :P

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    1. I hope you'll like it! It's a beautiful movie and he is the most beautiful thing about it :)

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  2. This is one of a few titles of Ford's that I've yet to see. Definitely plan to rectify that in the near future now.

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    1. I hope you'll like it! It's definitely his best work

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  3. Dude, I saw this. Theatrically. And never saw it again. After reading this, I think I want to revisit. I mean, if you can't enjoy Han Solo pouring lemonade all over himself....you should probably just kill yourself.

    I'm digging this Ford-fest. Keep it coming.

    Oh, and good luck on Saturday. I still can't unseen 90% of that movie. I was so shaken...I wish some nice man would build a toy for me to make it all okay.

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    1. That was a good scene. It was just brilliant. It's as if somebody went 'what will ladies enjoy seeing' and just had Ford do that

      Maybe Leo can build you an Oscar out of legos :D

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  4. Kelly McGillis was one lucky woman during this filming. I was but a wee tadpole when this film came out, but I later saw it as a teenager in the 90s. Loved it.

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    1. It's such a fantastic film and yeah I envied her so much in that field scene. And dance scene. Fuck, in all the scenes.

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  5. I have seen Kiss of a Spider Woman. Hurt is good but Raul Julia I felt was better than Hurt in that film. In comparison to what Harrison did in this, Ford was robbed. He gives a better performance that is just incredible. There's a sensitivity and a sweetness to his performance. How can you not love that scene where he's in the barn fixing his car and turns on the radio to dance with Kelly McGillis?

    I'm sure you know that Ford was a carpenter before he went into acting as it added some authenticity to his performance. I also love the scene where he beat up some townies who were harassing the Amish to express the rage and grief he was dealing with. It is a definitive performance from Ford.

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    1. That dance scene legit almost killed me

      Yeah I know about his carpenter days :) He still seems to do that a lot, there are so many pictures all of them so appreciated

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  6. While I don't think I share your passion for Harrison Ford :P I definitely need to see more of his movies. Star Wars, The Conversation and Frantic (1988) are all I can think of.

    And yes, I need to watch the Indy movies ;)

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    1. I have yet to see The Conversation which I hear is great

      Oh after Indiana you may share my passion :D

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  7. I've never seen Witness, though after your gushing I think I'd like to. lol

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    1. It's a really good movie, you should see it! :P

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  8. There are few better reminders of what a charismatic presence Ford once was, when he was as engaged as he is here. His scenes with Kelly McGillis are loaded with palpable feeling and chemistry.

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    1. I really wish he had better roles to play these days :/

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  9. Ahah, I love it when you do a crush post! I still need to see this movie, young Harrison is super hot. I have a new crush too, so I can totally relate being in the *honeymoon* state like you are now :D

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    1. Oh no! I mean I think Affleck is HOT as Bruce Wayne but no, I like the more obscure actors. I mentioned him here http://wp.me/pxXPC-atJ I'm back w/ the Brit again. He's not my usual type but dayum, something about me rubs me the right way :P

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  10. This is one of my favorite movies and easily one of Ford's best performances (outside of Indy and Han Solo). You don't see too many movies that deal with the Amish culture and deal with sensitively.

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    1. I'm so glad to read that movie has so many fans! I just loved it, especially Harrison's work in it

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  11. I remember seeing this when it was first released in theaters, which makes me feel insanely old. I've always really liked this film. And yes, that dance scene is wonderful!

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    1. I'd have died if I saw that dance scene in the cinema :)

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  12. Pretty sure I saw this for the first time on our Betamax player way back when....loved it then and it still holds up as one of my favorites!

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  13. Yep, I number among the (not many but considerable amount of) people who think Ford should have gotten a nom for Indy. The fuckton of charm and presence he puts into such a blank slate cardboard cutout of a character is extremely underestimated, he is both clearly shady and utterly virtuous. And then there are his reactions and comebacks that are also completely pitch-perfect in those movies.

    John Book is a favorite of mine, and it's also a gorgeously shot and gorgeously scored movie. I'm glad you saw it and enjoyed it.
    He also did Mosquito Coast with Weir, which Im not sure is you saw? It's a much more flawed movie, one whose lack of maybe clear message got in the way. It works better as a slice-of-life nugget than a movie that is meant to teach you something. It still looks beautiful and Ford, for someone who had just gotten an Oscar nomination a year earlier with the same director, still doesn't overplay it. The end scene in the movie is also just heartbreaking, even if you had just spent the entire movie slowly growing to hate the character.

    I also recommend the Jack Ryan movies, they are great fun.

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    1. I haven't seen Mosquito Coast yet but it's high on my watchlist! I definitely gonna see it soon, didn't know it was made by the same director as Witness

      I saw Patriot Games and liked it a lot, cannot wait to see the sequel

      Thank you so much for commenting!

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  14. So glad you liked this! The whole ensemble is great here. It's a shame that Ford was overlooked so many times. His 80's output was stellar.

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    1. That they have yet to give him honorary is a disgrace :/

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  15. If anyone deserves an Honorary Oscar, it's Harrison Ford. He was ignored so many times. And he's fantastic in Witness, which I give him the win for. Glad you liked the film!

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  16. This was the very first rated R film I ever saw -- my mom wanted to see this when it was released but didn't want to go alone so she took me. Even at age 11 I was mesmerized by H. Ford here. This remains one of my very favorite films and I'm glad it's appreciated. It's wonderful.

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