The story revolves around Samuel a little boy who has witnessed the murder of an undercover police officer, his mother Rachel (McGillis)and John Book (Ford) who investigates the murder discovering corruption, deceit and a conspiracy at it the heart of his department. After he discovers that his witness isn't safe, Book whisks them back to their Amish farm where he's forced to hideout as well.
One of Weir's finest films to focus on America, this so-so transfer looks grainy and has lots of compression issues. The transfer isn't a widescreen anamorphic transfer but is presented in that format (i.e., it's presented with the black bars at the top and bottom of the screen but the transfer isn't high definition). The picture occasionally comes across as soft and the rich use of color and light that vividly brought the film to life in theaters isn't well represented here. Hopefully Paramount will update this and remaster it the way it deserves to be done.
The extras include an interview with Weir obviously done around the time the film was made or first appeared on video and the original theatrical trailer. I would have expected a commentary track but since Weir isn't all that big on them to begin with, that would be hoping for too much.
A great film just a poor translation to DVD.
So, I watched it last night. It was interesting in that I remembered so much, even some small details about it. So it really did impress me that first time when I was young. This time, I enjoyed it, but I wouldn't say it is a film I would watch over and over again, as I watch some classic films. To see it once more was enough to just satisfy my curiosity about my memories of it.
I did feel they portrayed the Amish quite well, with the clothes and such. What they did wrong about the portrayal was that in no way would it be allowed for an Amish woman to tend to a wounded man who wasn't her husband, by herself in a room alone with him. It just isn't proper, isn't done. In reality, a man would have done that, or an older woman would have done it, with another woman there. I think the movie allowed the Rachel character to have way more "access" to a man alone than would be allowed in a real Amish or Mennonite community. I doubt he would have really been allowed to stay in the house. In reality he would have been placed in a home with a family who had a bunch of boys and he would work with them and the father, and not have all that time alone with Rachel.
I don't like violence...I knew that the bad part happened in the train station in the beginning, so we were able to fast forward that part. Also, we were able to fast forward the ending "shoot out" stuff. I didn't care for the bad language. The scene with Rachel taking her sponge bath, well when I was young and not a Christian, I found that very romantic. Now, I found it rather silly. A devout Amish girl/woman would not have just calmly turned around and let a man stare at her while unclothed. And later on, when she and he finally "meet" for the romantic moment, I found that sort of offensive. Why kiss out in the yard where anyone could see you? Eli could have easily looked out the window (a real Amish father would have kept better tabs on his daughter with a strange man around the place). I felt that scene was very much just an animal passion thing...sort of vulgar. Not at all romantic, truly loving or gentle. It seems people sure knew how to kiss and show romantic love a lot better in the old movies! And right before she went out there, she took her prayer veiling off. Which again, no Amish woman would do. But then she obviously was rebelling. There was that other time too, when she and John Book were in the barn listening to his radio, and she had it off then, and I am not sure why, for no Amish or Mennonite woman will go without it in front of people or outside the house.
The ending left me wondering...would Rachel just go ahead and marry Daniel? Would she really be happy with him? She really would have to repent of her sins with John Book to be truly happy. I also noticed that the film never showed a church service. Also, none of the Amish folks never seemed to care to tell John Book how to be a Christian. But then there are many Amish who are not born- again Christians, but just are "culturally Amish"...they live the way they do because they have always done so. These must have been that type of Amish. It did seem that Grandfather knew the Bible...he quoted some good verses when talking to the boy about the gun. That was good to see, yet sad that such violence had to even be witnessed by this child.
Oh, of course any film with Amish must have a barn raising scene, and this one did. Also, so many movies with cows mus have the scene where the city person doesn't know how to milk a cow. Of course John Book must learn. He makes a joke about "teats" in this scene, and grandfather Eli laughs at it, which again, I doubt a devout Amish man would do.
Well, these are my thoughts. It was interesting to revisit this film again. In closing, I would say it is an okay film for adults but I would not recommend it for children.