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Sunday, May 26, 2024

Witness (Limited Edition) (4K UHD Review)


The Film
The Video (Overall)
HDR Effect
The Audio
The Supplements

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Director Peter Weir’s (Picnic at Hanging Rock) first film set in America, Witness, brought the director’s quiet and austere style to the American crime thriller. Set in Pennsylvania, a young Amish boy named Samuel (Lukas Haas) witnesses a murder in a Philadelphia train station restroom. John Book (Harrison Ford) is assigned to find the killer. When it becomes clear to Book that corrupt police were involved in the killing, he must protect the boy and his mother Rachel (Kelly McGillis) from retaliation. An attempt on Book’s life by one of the suspects sends him on the run with Samuel and Rachel where he hides out in Amish country until he can recover from a bullet wound. Slowly, romantic tension builds between Rachel and Book, even though they know a romance between them would be both forbidden by Rachel’s community and an ill-fated exercise.

Weir treats the setting of the Amish community with great dignity, even the reserved, by today’s standards, love scenes between Book and Rachel. He also uses the camera to show the slow pace of life in Amish country – wind blowing tall grass, the communal raising of a barn from low angles and so on. Harrison Ford garnered an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of the gritty city detective who assimilates himself into the Amish community while protecting the young boy and becoming fond of his mother. It was a breakout role for Ford away from his Star Wars and Indiana Jones typecasting that launched him into a career that would see him appear in other dramatic roles like The Fugitive and Patriot Games.

  • Kelly McGillis in Witness (1985)
  • Kelly McGillis and Lukas Haas in Witness (1985)
  • Danny Glover in Witness (1985)
  • Lukas Haas in Witness (1985)
  • Harrison Ford in Witness (1985)
  • Harrison Ford and Kelly McGillis in Witness (1985)
  • Witness (Limited Edition) 4K Ultra HD (Arrow Video - AV537)
  • Witness (Limited Edition) 4K Ultra HD (Arrow Video - AV537)
  • Witness (Limited Edition) 4K Ultra HD (Arrow Video - AV537)

The Video

Witness has been fully restored in 4K and is presented in a 1.85:1 HEVC 2160p (4K UHD) Dolby Vision encodement from Arrow. This is not a crisp looking film. It tends to have softer textures, similar to Weir’s Picnic at Hanging Rock, but that is not to say it lacks detail or grain. The granularity is fine, densely packed, and consistent through the film. The image is clean, flesh tones are a natural hue, and shadow detail is good, although some hints of crush on the black clothes warn by the Amish is apparent. The Dolby Vision grading is strong. It does not add a major amount of brightness, but colors are more vibrant in shots of the horizon at sundown and the scene with Ford and McGillis in the barn at night as he works on his car with the lamp lights and they dance looks brilliant.

The Audio

Witness comes with three audio mixes in this Arrow Video release. There is a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix and two stereo mixes, English LPCM 2.0 Stereo (Home Video Mix) and English LPCM 2.0 (Theatrical Dolby Stereo Mix).

I used the 5.1 mix as my reference but also sampled both 2.0 stereo mixes. The 5.1 is a subtle mix with mostly lush ambience in the surround channels, but natural dynamics and wide imaging for the orchestral score. This wide imaging is mirrored in the 2.0 home video mix which sounds similar in tonality to the 5.1 mix, but the theatrical 2.0 mix has a thinner sound overall.

The Supplements

Arrow loads this release with lots of new and vintage interviews, video essays, and an audio commentary in addition to the delectable collectibles.

Limited Edition Features:

  • Limited edition packaging with reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Tommy Pocket
  • Limited edition 60-page perfect bound booklet illustrated by Tommy Pocket, featuring new writing on the film by Dennis Capicik, Martyn Conterio, John Harrison and Amanda Reyes
  • Fold-out double-sided poster featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Tommy Pocket
  • Six double-sided collector’s postcards

Bonus Features:

  • Brand new audio commentary by Film Historian Jarret Gahan
  • The Eye of the Witness (1080p; 00:14:49) – Brand new video interview with cinematographer John Seale, shot exclusively for Arrow Films in 2023.
  • Show…Don’t Tell (1080p; 00:15:17) – Brand new visual essay on the film’s performances by film journalist Staci Wilson, recorded exclusively for Arrow Films in 2023.
  • Harrison Ford in Conversation (1080p; 00:07:07) – Vintage interview from 1985 in which Harrison Ford discusses Witness with critic Bobbie Wygant.
  • Between Two Worlds: The Making of Witness (1080p; 01:093:56) – Five-part archival documentary on the making of the film, featuring interviews with Harrison Ford, Kelly McGillis, Peter Weir, John Seale, producer Edward S. Feldman, and actors Lukas Haas, Patti LuPone, and Viggo Mortensen.
  • A Conversation with Peter Weir (1080p; 00:07:17) – Archival interview with the film’s director
  • EPK Featurettes (1080p; 00:09:23) – Two vintage EPK featurettes, featuring interviews with Peter Weir, Harrison Ford, and Kelly McGillis.
  • Deleted Scene (1080p; 00:04:11) – Deleted Scene from the network TV version of the film.
  • Theatrical Trailer (1080p; 00:01:30)
  • Image Gallery (1080p)

The Final Assessment

A powerful and riveting romance crime thriller from Peter Weird that is both visually impactful and dramatically powerful, Witness is one of the few films that gets the romantic crime drama right. Arrow also gets the 4K Ultra HD release right with this very satisfying transfer and package. Highly recommended.

Witness (Limited Edition) is out on 4K Ultra HD Combo November 7, 2023, from Arrow Video.

  • Rating Certificate: R
  • Studios & Distributors: Paramount Pictures | Edward S. Feldman Production | Arrow Video
  • Director: Peter Weir
  • Written By: William Kelley | Pamela Wallace | Earl W. Wallace
  • Run Time: 112 Mins.
  • Street Date: 7 November 2023
  • Video Format: HEVC 2160p (4K UHD)
  • HDR Format: Dolby Vision (HDR10 Compatible)
  • HDR10 Metadata:
    • MaxLL: 4254 nits
    • MaxFALL: 584 nits
  • Primary Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1
  • Secondary Audio: English LPCM 2.0 Stereo (Home Video Mix) | English LPCM 2.0 (Theatrical Dolby Stereo Mix)
  • Subtitles: English SDH

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Estimated reading time: 7 minutes Director Peter Weir's (Picnic at Hanging Rock) first film set in America, Witness, brought the director’s quiet and austere style to the American crime thriller. Set in Pennsylvania, a young Amish boy named Samuel (Lukas Haas) witnesses a murder...Witness (Limited Edition) (4K UHD Review)