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Resurrection title card

Year - 1980
Studio - Universal
Stars - Ellen Burstyn, Sam Shepard, Richard Farnsworth, Roberts Blossom, Clifford David, Pamela Payton-Wright, Jeffrey DeMunn, Eva LaGallienne
Director - Daniel Petrie
Writing Credits - Lewis John Carlino
Music - Maurice Jarre


Edna Mae (Ellen Burstyn) surprises her husband Joe (Jeffrey DeMunn) with a new sports car for his birthday. They happily drive off and, attempting to avoid a skateboarder, careen over an oceanside cliff and crash on the rocks below. In a near-death experience, Edna advances toward a bright light, with shadowy figures guiding her way. When she revives in the hospital she learns that Joe died in the crash. Her estranged father (Roberts Blossom) visits, and invites her to return to the family farm in Kansas for recuperation.

Driving to Kansas in her father's pickup, they stop at a rustic desert gas station, where the kindly old proprietor, Esco, (Richard Farnsworth), for ten cents, shows them his live two-headed snake.

Resurrection poster

Celebrating her return at a large family gathering, a little girl suffers a severe nosebleed. The family doctor wants to take her to the hospital, but Edna asks to hold the girl to comfort her. She strokes her face and, to the astonishment of the others, the bleeding stops. Edna senses that she has acquired a healing ability. Soon, she is holding healing sessions before eager crowds and experiencing a high success rate. She doesn't make any religious claims but simply treats her abilities as a newfound gift.

One of her "patients" is Cal (Sam Shepard), badly cut in a knife attack. Edna causes his bleeding to stop so that he can be properly transported to a medical facility. Cal is romantically attracted to Edna and, eventually, she returns his affection. Edna's strict father is offended by her new relationship, and demands that she leave. And Cal, raised by a fundamentalist pastor, is torn by Edna's talent and angrily accuses her of not crediting God for her healing powers. He rides his motorcycle to one of her outdoor gatherings and fires a shotgun, wounding Edna. As she recovers in the hospital, she intuits that her father is dying. After visiting his deathbed and telling him that she still loves him, she packs up her belongings and leaves, not sure of her final destination.

In an epilogue, a young couple is touring the desert with their cancer-stricken young son, and they stop at the same gas station seen early in the story. A gray-haired Edna is now the owner, and she shows the boy the now-preserved two-headed snake, the price being a hug. She places her arms around the boy and hugs him tightly.

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Preview Clip

Resurrection was released to theaters by Universal Studios just a week before its Somewhere in Time. On September 19, 1980, when the latter film premiered on Mackinac Island, its main filming location, Universal made it a double feature with the two titles. Unfortunately, the two film's stars were unable to appear at the premiere due to a strike by the Screen Actors Guild.