BR: Resurrected (1989)

October 22, 2014 | By


Resurrected1989_BRFilm: Very Good

Transfer:  Excellent

Extras: Good

Label: Twilight Time

Region: All

Released:  June 10, 2014

Genre:  Drama / War

Synopsis: Thinly veiled docu-drama on Philip Williams, a solider in the Falklands War who was found alive weeks after the war’s formal end, and was suspected of being a deserter by his regiment and his own town.

Special Features:  Isolated Mono Music and Effects Track / 2011 Interview with director Paul Greengrass (18 mins) / 2011 Interview with star David Thewlis (16 mins.) / Limited to 3000 / Available exclusively from Screen Archives Entertainment.




After toiling in TV documentaries, Paul Greengrass (Captain Phillips, The Bourne Ultimatum, United 93) made his feature film debut with Resurrected (1989), a small drama set just after the Falklands War, and based in part on the real life circumstances of Philip Williams, a British soldier presumed lost in combat, feted in death as a war hero at home, and suddenly found wandering the Argentinean countryside seven weeks after being written off as dead.

To distance themselves from a rival docu-drama on the Falklands War, the 1988 BBC teleplay Tumbledown, Williams’ story was broadened by Greengrass (who conceived the project) and screenwriter Martin Allen (Coronation Street) into the story of one Kevin Deakin (David Thewlis, making his film debut), a war hero who similarly returns from the dead, is feted in his small valley town the day he returns, and trashed in the papers as a possible deserter the following day, turning his world upside-down and setting him up for a horrendous period of abuse by his regiment.

As Greengrass admits in the lengthy and highly informative interview on Twilight Time’s Blu-ray (ported over from the 2011 Second Sight Films Region 2 DVD), Resurrected was part of his learning curve making dramatic features, and it shows some of his ‘immaturity’ as a director, which isn’t to knock the film per se, but Resurrected is very much a time capsule of the era, making it perhaps more compelling than expected.

The Falklands War remains a weird curio in war history – Britain rescuing a small group of islands after neighbouring Argentina claimed ownership by invasion – and unlike the Gulf War, the British-Argentinean battle harkened back to nasty hand-to-hand combat in WWI, down to trench warfare and grievous casualties. Neither grand nor glorious, the war still seems like an oddity, and yet it’s no more timely than the current periodic bursts of nationalism between big countries over small dots of islands which, according to their subjective and biased historical accounts, are sovereign, and worth losing lives over.

In 1982, mineral rights and potential oil reserves were not part of the goal – just defending a far off territory leftover from colonial times – and the grand parade seen in the film seems a little surreal, like a government using a curious war to drum up the high nationalism and glory of bigger and more successful military campaigns to temper criticism on the home front.

Deakin is pure grey matter, lacking any memory of his departure from the battlefield due to an explosion; the uncertainty of what caused his trauma makes him an offence to the military and the government officials wanting stark, easy-to-sell heroes.

Although he retains the support of his family (played by Rita Tushingham, Tom Bell, and Michael Pollitt), he loses his girl (Rudi Davies) to another bloke (barely recognizable Steve Coogan), his stature in the community, and each time he returns to his regiment, Deakin suffers worse treatment until the hatred of his colleagues explodes in a vicious night of bullying.

Where the film falters lies in the rage of his main tormentors – there’s just hatred, enacted in a highly melodramatic pitch – and a midsection that meanders as Deakin himself meanders back into home life, feeling distanced and misunderstood in several montages, flashbacks, and quiet moments that run on a bit too much. It’s this chunk of the film that has Resurrected feeling like a larger budgeted yet conventional BBC teleplay with kitchen sink histrionics that perhaps Greengrass now regards as bit heavy, especially with a rather overstated score by John Keane (isolated in a mono music & effects track on the Blu-ray).

But where Greengrass and Allen succeed is evoking Deakin’s own mental and emotional stasis – there are scenes (especially Deakin’s airport arrival) that are chilling in the way the raucous joy of returning soldiers is contrasted with the isolated Deakin clan, housed in a corner lobby overlooking the larger official welcome home celebration.

The town’s fast turn against Kevin is also compelling, and Greengrass enhances the township’s insular location by staging some quiet yet affecting scenes on hilltops that show the beauty of the valley and the modest paved road that snakes through the town’s abbreviated centre.

Greengrass’ camera is less hyper in his first film, but there are powerful takes and edits which maintain a sense of realism, especially in the finale where Deakin is brutalized in a shower room. It’s an emotionally graphic event that also functions as a release for the characters and audiences, since the bullies finally allow their rage to explode, and Deakin breaks down and releases his anguish after being fairly composed  since his return, even during a fireside drunken rant.

Also ported over from the U.K. DVD is an interview with Thewlis where the actor describes his feature film debut (although he mentions a prior production which never got released) and meeting Philip Williams (who appears briefly in the film in a video game arcade).

Twilight Time’s new HD transfer is really gorgeous – the soft colour palette and sharp details are really quite stunning – and while a flawed work, Resurrected is an important critique of a curious war and the victimized men and women who returned from its nasty business.



© 2014 Mark R. Hasan



External References:
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Isolated Mono Music and Effects Track / 2011 Interview with director Paul Greengrass / 2011 Interview with star David Thewlis / Limited to 3000 / Available exclusively from Screen Archives Entertainment.

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Category: Blu-ray / DVD Film Review

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