"Building The Barn": Building Our World - Lesson From "Witness"

“Witness” is a 1985 Peter Weir film starring Harrison Ford (John Book), Kelly McGillis (Rachel Lapp), and Lukas Haas (Samuel Lapp). Rachel was an Amish widow whose 8 year old son, Samuel, was the sole witness to a murder on their trip to Philadelphia. John Book was the cop in charge of investigating the murder and when Samuel identified another cop, McFee (Danny Glover) as the killer, all three lives became endangered as the dirty cops sought to kill them. They fled to the Amish community to hide. John risked being traced to the community by staying with them because of the gunshot wound he sustained in a shootout with McFee, thereby, putting mother and son in harm’s way.

A lot happened in this film that are lessons in humanity and how we are all one. For instance, Rachel talked about tourists being (unintentionally) rude by staring at the community members and snapping away with their cameras. However, she couldn’t resist laughing at John and calling him “plain” when he put on his new disguise attire. Another big lesson in this movie is how innocence is lost and views may suddenly change just by witnessing other people’s actions. The lesson here is that the counsel of an elderly person or someone with knowledge and experience, can help put things in perspective no matter your age.

Enough about the film because my guess is that you’ve seen it, probably several times like I have. This post is more about the soundtrack – “Building The Barn,” an original score by Maurice Jarre. The soundtrack was a fantastic and effective composition and had all the elements that enhanced the film. I could say that the director and the composer had the same vision for this film. As many times as I’ve seen this movie, the soundtrack never had as much intense effect on me as it did last night. I confess I may have replayed that scene (Chapter 11) about 30 times before going to sleep and have been playing it all day. Here is the audio only version of the score.

Have you ever had a time when your thoughts are so erratic you cannot streamline them without a little help from music or video? I do sometimes, and last night was one of those times. I decided to go for something visual that would require little or no attention while I tried to quiet down for the night. So, I let “Witness” play as I prepared to end the night. When I was done, I stretched out on my couch to watch the movie a little but, my thoughts steered me away from it. I found myself turning my back on the television as I closed my eyes with my thoughts still running amuck.

Little by little, my thoughts became streamlined. One after the other, they came into focus, analyzed, and sent away as if they’d served their purposes. As the thoughts came and went, I felt a sort of lightness and fluidity, as if I was swimming in a river or gliding in the air. I followed that movement until the soundtrack came into focus at the sound of the flute. I became aware of the movements of the string instruments and the interjections of the flute as the music filled my senses.

So, with all thoughts gone, I turned to the movie and was deeply moved by the community working together to build the barn. In this scene, John was not a stranger, he was one of them, he belonged with them – the human race or tribe or culture, etc. Think about this – wouldn’t our world be a better place if we all joined hands and worked together, helping and uplifting one another, instead of judging one another? Whatever your skin color and no matter which part of this planet you were born, we are all one and could live that way. Begin in whatever community you may be right now and reach out to someone you perceive as different from you.

If you’re reading this post and haven’t seen the movie, here is a clip of "Building The Barn" scene.