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A woman suffers a nearly fatal automobile accident and loses her
husband. In her recovery, she discovers miraculous healing powers.
"Resurrection" does not directly address the scientific or the
spiritual explanations of faith healing. Rather, it focuses on the
healing properties of love.
While there is much to say about the powerful message of "Resurrection," this review will focus primarily on the acting. The entire cast effortlessly and perfectly portray their characters even in the smaller roles. Ellen Burstyn, Sam Shepard, Richard Farnsworth, Roberts Blossom, and Eva Le Gallienne evoke especially memorable performances that ring true emotionally with many layers of raw feeling exposed.
Twenty-five years have passed since the release of "Resurrection." It is especially instructive to compare this film with movies in the twenty-first century that are action-intensive with sound tracks that overwhelm both the drama and the spoken word. In "Resurrection," it is refreshing to hear every word and syllable articulated so clearly by the performers. Eva Le Gallienne, a luminary of the American theatre, is a revelation in her small role, with beautiful, crisp speech along with powerful emotional nuances.
The healing scenes in the film were sensitively portrayed. Director Daniel Petrie and screenwriter Lewis John Carlino deserve kudos for this work. However, their contributions would not be realized without the incandescent performance of Ellen Burstyn. Again, it was her sensitive vocal characterization that was so effective in the powerful moments of healing. Her character Edna Mae was able to reach out to people and to make deep personal connections primary through her vocal inflections and her powerful aura of love.
When this film first appeared on the big screen in 1980, it did not receive much acclaim. And through the years, it has been difficult even to locate a copy on video. But "Resurrection" is a minor masterpiece and in its message of love, it is a film for the ages.
Ellen Burstyn is one of my favorite actresses, and this is the film
that did it for me. The simplicity and power of her performance is
I was a little disappointed to see this had been remade - I didn't watch it - and even more disappointed to read that it is not yet out on DVD. This movie is a must-see.
Burstyn plays Edna McCauley, an ordinary woman who is clinically dead for several minutes after a horrific auto accident that kills her husband. Crippled, she returns to the home where she was born with her nearly silent, cold father. During a family picnic, a hemophiliac starts to bleed and Edna is able to stop the bleeding. Her grandmother (the great Eva LaGalliene) recognizes that Edna now has the power to heal. Edna is then able to heal herself. Not being a very religious person, she tells her grandmother that she doesn't know much about God, but if the power she has comes from love, that's good enough for her. Unfortunately, it's not enough for one of the townsman, who believes her healing power comes from the devil. His son (Sam Shepard), with whom Edna becomes romantically involved, has more and more trouble coping with her gift as time goes on, and it can't heal the rift between her and her father, the reason for which is not revealed until nearly the end of the film.
My favorite part is the ending - it might be my favorite ending of any film. It is there that Burstyn shows how she becomes a character - she doesn't act, she just IS this woman. She takes the character through the journey of learning how best to deal with her life and power as only she can. It's one of the most mesmerizing moments in cinema.
Made in 1980, today "Resurrection" looks like one of the many independent films being made now - small in scope and a little off-beat. It holds up magnificently as the story and performances are timeless.
There are some roles that I think are perfect fits for their portrayers - Robert Preston in Music Man, Katharine Hepburn in Lion in Winter - and Ellen Burstyn in Resurrection. A beautiful film, a great cast, see it! You'll never forget it.
This beautiful movie is a wonder to watch...After a near-death
Ellen Burstyn discovers she has healing powers and proceeds to do good
in a quiet, unassuming way...which, nevertheless, gets her into
It is odd that I would like this film so well since 1) I am an atheist with zero belief in an afterlife; and 2) had my own near-death experience where I saw nothing...no light, no tunnel...just nothing. Still, this film taps into my spiritual side...whatever that is...perhaps the acceptance that things go bump in the night for no good reason.
My pleasure in watching this film is enhanced by it's firm insistence that the gift of healing is not rooted in any one religion or even in religion itself. In these troubled times where religion often does more harm than good, the message of this film is both rewarding and healthy. Couple this with fine performances and slow, but well-paced direction, and you have an unusual movie which can movie even the most jaded of viewers (me!)
I recently rediscovered this brilliant film. I saw it when it was released in 1980 and had not seen it since. I was taken aback at how well it has held up to the test of cinematic time. Melodrama, to be sure! Offbeat, yes a little. But when all is said and done the performances of Ellen Burstyn and the great Eva La Gallienne stun! Many films have visited this subject matter, but none with the emotional impact that we recieve from the climax of RESURRECTION. The last scene is worth the view.
This movie has been a favorite of mine since it came out. I find it very
moving, and inspirational, and I am such a SUCKER for movies that have an
ending where the last two minutes hit you right in the heart, or the head,
or both. (RE: Shawshank Redemption and Working Girl as two examples)
See this movie! I am sure it will hold different pleasures and bring different insights for different people, but no one will NOT feel something. Wonderful performances by all, and sadly this is truly an underrated and little known film. I hope this will come out on DVD someday.
I think I am going to go hunt up my nearly worn out VHS version and watch it again today. Oh, and when you do get a chance to see it, make sure you share it with a friend. This is a great movie for discussion after. I think you, like me, will want to see it again.
Ordinary woman, recently paralyzed in a car accident that left her husband dead, drives with her father through the California desert and meets a wily, warm old coot running a service station; he introduces her to his two-headed snake and then, without provocation, touches the top of her head affectionately. Soon thereafter, she finds she can heal the ailing--including herself--which frightens her distant father as well as the new man in her love-life. Occasionally overwrought or slow, "Resurrection" has a solid screenplay to fall back on, and a terrific actress in the leading role. Ellen Burstyn, feisty, flawed and fed up, creates a three-dimensional character here who often makes bad choices but never loses our respect. Fighting with her father for the last time, she tells him, "I am sick...to...death...of trying to get you to love me." Fine supporting performances by Eva Le Gallienne, Richard Farnsworth and Lois Smith, but Sam Shepherd isn't well cast as the new love-interest (he's supposed to be a sexy bad boy, but instead he just seems villainous, in a perpetual foul mood). The movie lays on the hick-charm a bit heavily (our heroine is Edna Mae, her grandmother is Grandma Pearl), but it has a great deal of heart and some very moving, sensitive moments. *** from ****
I can't believe anyone would see this film for anything more than it is:
study in the demands of social expectation/responsibility and personal
integrity/commitment. The beauty of the film is that these issues are
seamlessly laid out and left open to debate. Perhaps it is not the
"perfect" script by the standards of McKee or Field, but it is a script
which advances according to its premise, that power is something one
ultimately always have control over, be it personal or public power. The
healing power that Burstyn acquires becomes both the road to salvation or
the road to damnation.
I believe it is one of Burstyn greatest performances. I believe every one of the supporting roles works beautifully to the advance the story, without being tritely melodramatic. (Think Elmer Gantry, which remains a great film in spite of its melodrama.)
And I will always remember the final scene as one of the most honestly affecting moments in my film experience. Few scenes have played so simply and purely to my memory... yes, it tugged the heart strings, but which one of us in her shoes would not have done the exact same thing.
If you haven't seen this film, it is one of the best, purely as entertainment. But it is also a deeply arresting and thought provoking film about human nature and the unexplainable.
I remember seeing this film in the theatre - a wonderfully mind altering experience! Burstyn's acting is Oscar quality, and her transformation throughout the film is truly remarkable. If you have seen and enjoyed "Brainstorm" with Natalie Wood, this makes one of the best companion pieces to it. I guess you know you've seen a great film when it makes you suspend your disbelief while the lights are out in the theatre, and then changes your beliefs forever after it is over. We have all seen movies that featured psychic experiences that have ranged from the weird to the simply unbelievable. Ellen Burstyn starts out a non-believer, but is converted by her experiences. The film also neatly plays upon the elements of faith-healing and the role of the believer in any mental experience. A finely nuanced and rewarding film - I hope someone wakes up and issues this GEM on DVD sometime soon!
Like numerous stories dealing with the (supposedly) supernatural, this
one requires the audience to take on faith that which cannot be justified
"scientifically." So there are loose ends, and matters that will leave some
of us asking, "How could that happen - even in this story?" But to accept
the premise and the events on their own terms is to provide oneself with a
powerful emotional experience of the sort that few pictures even try to
Especially effective was the Ellen Burstyn character remaining her low-key, unassuming self even after she becomes aware of her power. Along the same lines is her admission that she fails about a third of the time, and her altogether plausible attempt to explain it.
Less convincing was her inability to resist romance with someone obviously unsuitable. Was this to show us that she was, after all, only human? That she would want a man in her life we can easily accept. But him? She turns away repeatedly until his sheer persistence overcomes her better judgment. It doesn't ring true.
The performances are excellent throughout. And could anyone have come up with a more appropriate, satisfying ending?
Ellen Burstyn delivered one of the all-time best performance by an American actress in a motion picture. 1980 was one of the most difficult year in the Oscars in terms of best actress - all five were great. I deeply loved this movie, it made me cry quite often. The only thing that was bad was the relationship with Sam Shepard, it should have been cut from the movie. The ending is absolutely unforgettable. Do not miss it!!!
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