Saturday, March 4, 2023

RESURRECTION (1980) (Imprint Films Blu-ray Review)

Imprint Collection #203

Label: Imprint Films
Region Code: Region-Free
Duration: 103 Minutes 7 Seconds  
Audio: English LPCM 2.0 Mono with Optional English Subtitles 
Video: 1080p HD Widescreen (1.85:1) 
Director: Daniel Petrie 
Cast: Ellen Burstyn, Sam Shepard, Richard Farnsworth, Roberts Blossom, Eva Le Gallienne

In the supernatural drama Resurrection (1981) Ellen Burstyn (The Exorcist) portrays Edna, who at the top of the film loses her husband Joe (Jeffrey DeMunn, Warning Sign) after a horrific car accident their involved in. In the aftermath of the crash she experiences clinical death death in the operating room but is brought back. When she comes to she discovers that the accident has left her paralyzed from the waist down due to a blood-clot lodged in her spinal cord. Her estranged father (Roberts Blossom, Christine) arrives and convinces her to come back home to the small Kansas town where she grew up. There she discovers that her near death experience has left her with an amazing power, the ability to lay hands on a person and heal them of their afflictions. After laying her healing hands on several people in the area, in addition to healing her own leg paralysis, some local holy rollers become  upset that she has not given credit to God for her abilities, choosing instead to credit human love as the source of her healing abilities. 

Eventually Edna starts a relationship with a young man named Cal (Sam Shepard, The Right Stuff), who she saved from certain death after he was stabbed during a bar room brawl. Cal's the son of a preacher man, and while he seems to genuinely care for her he too attempts to make her admit that her powers come from God, causing him to struggle with their love, perverting his mind and causing him to act out in a shockingly violent way.

At the heart of the film is Burstyn's deeply moving performance in a film that refuses to go overboard with the supernatural theatrics. Instead we have a low key, but intriguing affair with her character's struggle with her new healing gift, her romantic entanglement, and her difficult relationship with her father. The scenes of the afterlife are nicely realized early on, but the film's reticence to not go all-in on the supernatural elements visually might put off some viewers, however, if you're looking for more adult film that tackles the subject with a bit more thoughtfulness than visual pizazz, but also doesn't seem too concerned with exploring the phenomena with much depth, I think you'll be surprised by this faith-heling gem.  Also be on the lookout for character actors Richard Farnsworth (The Straight Story), Lois Smith (Twister), Richard Hamilton (Pale Rider) and Lane Smith (Dark Night of the Scarecrow) in smaller roles adding color and character to the smalltown community. It's great to see this release get a proper special edition Blu-ray, despite Burstyn being nominated for an Oscar for the role the film's release was bungled and it went largely unseen, and it didn't have much of a life on home video either, so kudos to Imprint Films for resurrecting this in HD and offering some insightful new extras.      

Audio/Video: Resurrection (1980) arrives on region-free Blu-ray from Imprint Films, presented in 1080p HD widescreen (1.85:1) and advertised as new 2K scan by Universal Pictures. I've not seen this on home video before and having nothing to compare it to but the source looks like a dated master or something sourced from something other than the OCN. Grain is present throughout but looks chunky in spots, but colors are warm and generally well saturated, and the source is in good shape, though there are a few blemishes throughout. Audio comes by way of English LPCM 2.0 Mono with optional English subtitles. The track is clean and well-balanced, dialogue sounds quite nice and the score from Maurice Jarre (Jacob's Ladder) is full-bodied. 

Extras kick-off with a new Audio commentary by author and film historian Lee Gambin, offering a mic of critical analysis, production notes, and exploring the theme of faith-healing as well as the bungled theatrical launch and critical reception. Also new is the 29-min The  Choice of Love – interview with actress Ellen Burstyn the star talks about the final film being quite different from the script as originally presented to her, which was about Christ being reincarnated as a woman, which she declined to make, but that script was eventually overhauled by a new writer and attached to a new director which she liked. She also talks about her own spiritual pursuits, a serious injury her son sustained and her introduction to miraculous healing hands energy transference, and meeting with a healer during her prep work for the film. She speaks of recommending Sam Shepherd for the film and how they had great chemistry, requesting that stage actress Eva Le Gallienne be in the film as her character's grandmother, this remains her only film appearance, and of how she was so moved by Le Gallienne's final lines in the film she was authentically moved to tears. She also says she did not get on great with Robert Blossom who played her father. We also get an interesting fly wrangling story from the making of the film, and how the film did critically and commercially. The 19-min Born to be Wild: Resurrection and the Rise of the Divine Feminine – video essay by film historian Kat Ellinger explores the themes of the divine feminine in film and how this film in particular stands apart from it's sub-genre personas a rare feminist and seemingly agnostic counterpoint to the usual faith healer trappings. Extras are buttoned-up with a 1-min Theatrical Trailer for the film. The single-disc release arrives in a clear keepcase with a two-sided, non-reversible artwork option, plus a Limited Edition slipcase on the first 1500 copies with the theatrical poster artwork. 

Special Features: 
- 1080p High-definition presentation on Blu-ray from a NEW 2K scan
- NEW! Audio commentary by author and film historian Lee Gambin
- NEW! The Choice of Love – interview with actress Ellen Burstyn (29 min) 
- NEW! Born to be Wild: Resurrection and the Rise of the Divine Feminine – video essay by film historian Kat Ellinger (19 min) 
- Theatrical Trailer (1 min) 
- Limited Edition slipcase on the first 1500 copies with unique artwork

Screenshots from the Imprint Films Blu-ray: