HMWYBS 706: Witness

Surprisingly, this episode of HMWYBS was the first entry so far where I was completely unfamiliar with the material (hadn’t seen Zardoz in full but I’d seen clips).

My feelings on Witness are a bit mixed. I enjoyed myself, but at the same time, my thoughts basically boil down to: “Yep, that’s a non-winning 80s Best Picture nominee.” A good movie that was much better than the eventual winner (Out of Africa? Oh for fuck’s sake) but it doesn’t really linger. That being said, I certainly like it more than the real misfire in Weir’s filmography: Dead Poets Society. Yuck.

Still, it’s hard to fault this movie on a scene-by-scene level in terms of enjoyment. It’s cut and shot evocatively thanks to a pretty lovely soundtrack, and Harrison Ford is the movie’s greatest asset which does wonders towards making it go down easier. And thus, I went for a shot that embraces the silence:

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Best Shot

We hear nothing in this scene except for that most sensual of sounds: the sound of water. When Rachel is bathing herself, it’s as pure and simple as it gets, nothing more than a sponge bath. The effect is also a bit lost in the cap, but there is definitely a sense of her looking directly at the camera here (she starts off looking in the direction of a more traditional eyeline match before going further towards the camera).

I don’t think there’s much of a point to this scene beyond “look at what John Book can’t have” per se, but it’s such a gorgeous, direct image that it’s what lingers the most from Witness, even with the challenge of looking into Rachel’s eyes being more lingering than anything really evocative in how it potentially breaks the fourth wall.

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