Amish reaction to the movie "Witness"?

A long overdue question. I was just in Amish country over the weekend and wondered about this.

Was there ever any reaction on the record by the Amish people at large or specific Amish as to the depiction of the Amish in the movie “Witness”?

Also, the movie depicted an incident where non-Amish guys were making fun of some Amish guys, dabbed a ice cream cone in one’s face, etc. There seemed to me to be a very happy co-existence. Do incidents like that really occur there?

From Amish FAQ:

How true was the portrayal of the Amish in the movie “Witness,” starring Harrison Ford?

“The movie, “Witness,” portrayed Amish lifestyle fairly accurately in what was shown, but it portrayed a very limited segment of Amish lifestyle. The Amish people have had a lot of reservations about “Witness.” The plot seemed to be inconsistent with the lifestyle and culture of the Amish. It was filmed in the geographical area of the Amish, but not on an Amish farm. The actors and actresses in the movie were not Amish.”

I’d assume that the majority (if not all) of the Amish haven’t seen this movie due to their admonition of electricity and modern devices (per the same faq listed above).

When Weird Al released the video fro Amish Paradise, the Philadelphia Inquirer interviewed an expert on the Amish. He mentioned that despite the prohibitions on graven images and electricity ‘Everybody seems to have seen Witness’

As a doper who lives in Lancaster, and who was here during the filming, I can say that the local community was far more excited about the movie, than the Amish were. It pumped alot of money into the local economy. The Amish could have cared less.

As for the Amish never seeing movies? Not true. There is a short period of time before they join the church, when they are allowed to experience the outside world. The Amish are definitely very aware of films, movies and such.

I saw Kelly McGillis on a regular basis when she was here. She used to come into a store where I worked. Amazingly uncomplicated beauty. Never glimpsed Harrison Ford though.

The film crew hired locals as extras. One of them was my 100% italian catholic aunt. She has some screen time, behind Kelly in the barn raising scene. :smiley: Look for the short lady with the dark hair and the nice smile. That’s my Aunt Barb!

I got a slightly different picture of Amish culture from the Tim Allen & Kirstie Alley film For Richer or for Poorer than from Witness. Especially, the accent with which they speak English. I’ve always wondered which is more accurate.

One thing I know FROFP got wrong: Those Amish wore shirts with buttons!

I remember from the time that several Amish communities (they’re essentially automomous) made special dispensation for some members to see WITNESS in interest of self-protection from possible erroneous conceptions it may cause. The main irritation was with Kelly McGillis’s topless bathing scene, which they found very contradictory to the values of an Amish widow and mother who would have had modesty drilled into her from infancy. (I remember that one Amish reviewer said he actually loved the Don’t Know Much about History dance number, but then the Amish do dance and can even listen to recorded music so long as it’s from a battery powered player (and yes, I’m serious).

Amish men can wear buttons on their shirt, incidentally. The buttons must be plain (no brass or designs) and the shirt itself must be a solid basic color (usually green, blue or white), but they’re allowed. They also have buttons on their flies because they can’t have zippers for some odd reason, and women have additional rules.

I wrote a short story once set in an Amish Community in 2120, incidentally, by which time the Amish are driving 1970s Impalas and playing Pong on non-cable ready TV sets. I wonder what the real future holds for them.

Something that may not have been true at the time but is now: Ford’s character had to ride into town to use a telephone. Today, most Amish farm’s do have telephones as it is almost impossible to run a profitable farm without one, but it cannot be in the house (it must be in a barn or a special booth) and it cannot be used for any non-business or non-emergency calls (they are allowed to call for ambulances). Essentially, if it physically connects the house to the outside world, it’s verboten, but so long as it’s for business only (such as running water for washing hands to comply with FDA cleanliness standards in agricultural products) and not in the house the rules are more lenient. Amish may also take advantage of the outside world by using public transportation (as Kelly McGillis does in Witness, hospitals, or even the Internet so long as again it isn’t in the house.
(Lehman’s is but one company that does a major I’net business with the Amish as they supply many of the tools and household items that just can’t be found at a Wal-Mart since they presume electricity in the household; Lehman’s sells tools from manual plows to baby toys to home butchering kits- personally I think that if anybody buys a home butchering kit and doesn’t have either an “Ephraim” or a “Stoltzenfuss” somewhere in their name then the FBI needs to be notified.)

One more, then I’ll quit: my mother once dated Joe, an artist who was born in an Amish community in West Virginia. (His family owned what he called a “rabbit-sh!t farm”- they raised thousands of rabbits for meat and fur but mostly for their droppings [used in fertilizer]- he was one of only two children because his parents divorced, which does occasionally happen in the Amish community- neither partner can remarry so long as the other is alive [regardless of the cause of the separation]- the mother keeps the marital home while the father lives with his own family but must continue to work his ex-wife’s farm- why they divorced is an interesting story and why Joe was expelled from the community sounds like something straight off Lifetime for Women- he went in one month from living in a West Virginia Amish community to living in Greenwich Village- but this is too long by most already.)

Anyway, Joe loved the movie Witness, but mainly because it was implied the Kelly McGillis character might “escape”. He viewed the Amish not as a quaint society but as a backwards cult that was inhumanly cruel to adolescents (“You’re growing to be a man/woman, now- take a year, see some movies, drive a car, and then decide if you want to live in our world or the English world- just remember that if you choose the English then you are dead to us and we may never talk to you again and you’ll have a headstone in the cemetery and your immortal soul is in eternal danger and you can never come back even if you repent and change your mind and you’ll be a source of neverending shame to all who ever loved you… would you like some more dried corn?”)

And after Al showed the video on Al TV, he said, “In case I’ve offended any Amish people, I’d just like to say: You’re not supposed to be watching TV! Get back to work!

Huh, I always thought the implication was that Samuel would be the one to leave the Amish - he looked up to Book a lot, and after he gets caught with Book’s gun, he tells his grandfather that he didn’t think it was wrong to kill a bad man. I always thought that the seed of violence being planted in Samuel was one of the themes of the movie. In that sense, I can see why the Amish FAQ can’t really praise the movie, even if it didn’t get the particulars of Amish life wrong.