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August 2, 2014

Movie Review: Resurrected (1989, Twilight Time)

Directed by Paul Greengrass

Movie Review by Greg Goodsell

The time in which we welcome home soldiers from victorious battles, they say, is extremely brief. Case in point: Private Kevin Deakin (David Thewlis), presumed dead in the 1982 Falklands was after the Battle of Mount Tumbledown is given a regal and dignified military funeral in his English village. His friends and family, while devastated, accept the fact that Deakin died a hero in the service of his country. The problem: A disheveled Private Deakin, shell-shocked and filthy stumbles on a Falklands sheep ranch seven weeks after the war has been declared over. Claiming to have survived by eating worms while thinking that the war was still ongoing, Deakin is sent home to Britain – to a very unenthusiastic public. Having already accepted him dead and war hero, his parents (Rita Tushingham and Tom Bell) must now accept the fact that their son is alive – and as the British gutter press makes him out to be, possibly a deserter.

Deakin's life is effectively over before it's begun. Haunted by flashbacks and shunned by his girlfriend and townspeople, Deakin returns to his military regiment. Treated coldly by everyone, who brand him as a coward, fellow soldier Slaven (Christopher Fulford) leads a brutal “kangaroo court” against Deakin – and justice is meted out in an especially brutal fashion.

Brimming with superb performances, Resurrected is a nifty British gem that confronts a lot of the complex questions associated with war. Deakin's status is never spelled out: Did he abandon his fellow soldiers who died in combat? Was he wrong to think of self-preservation at a time when he was needed on the battleground? Is it easier for society to deal with dead soldiers in lieu of live ones who come home, physically and mentally wounded beyond repair? What is valor and courage? Does war really solve anything – in particular, The Falklands War, fought over a stretch of land claimed by Argentina? (Troops there were subjected to some of the most upfront and vicious battle since World War I trench warfare, in a war that has been described as “two bald men fighting over a comb.”) Is it fair that some have to die and others go on living after battle? These questions just barely scratch the surface in Resurrected.

Resurrected fits the criteria of most classic British cinema: It’s distinctly British, deals with raw and realistic emotions and tells a compelling story in commonplace surroundings. A sterling example of “kitchen sink” cinema, resurrected tells an ugly and unpleasant story – that must be seen and heard.

Twilight Time has produced yet another exemplary Blu-Ray. Extras include an isolated music track, as well as filmed interviews with director Paul Greengrass and actor David Thewlis. Greengrass would graduate to such top-drawer productions such as The Bourne Identity and Thewlis would later become one of the preeminent screen actors of his generation. Thewlis’ chat is especially revealing. It seems that Resurrected is based on a true story, Scots Guardsmen Phillip Williams who went missing, was presumed and then later turned up alive. Thewlis finally got to meet Williams in person quite by accident, who in the intervening years became an along-haired hippie animal rights activist. And is the case with most Twilight Time releases, there is a helpful booklet included with liner notes by the amazing Julie Kirgo. Fans of intense, confrontational drama will do well to resurrect this feature …

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