UK 1989, 96 mins
Director: Paul Greengrass

Produced by Tara Prem and Adrian Hughes, Paul Greengrass’ directorial debut deals with the experiences of a young squaddie suffering from battle fatigue during the Falklands War. After being missing presumed dead, he returns home only to become a victim of press slander when accused of cowardice. A rush to judgement that still resonates in our volatile internet age.

Resurrected is the first feature directed by Paul Greengrass, who ghosted Spycatcher and worked on Granada’s World in Action from 1978 to 1987. It was while he was with that series that he began to research a story which forms part of the basis of Resurrected: the persistent reports of bullying and ‘initiation ceremonies’ in the army which have, on occasion, it is claimed, led to victims committing suicide. The other main ingredient is the story of Private Philip Williams of the Scots Guards who, like Kevin Deakin, was a stretcher bearer in the Falklands who was listed as missing presumed dead, turned up some weeks later suffering from amnesia, and was subjected to an ordeal not entirely dissimilar to Kevin’s. What soon becomes abundantly clear is that Kevin’s reappearance is, from the army’s point of view, a nuisance and an embarrassment, an unnecessary hic-cough in the all-important process of getting back to ‘normal’ after the war. As one of the officers puts it: ‘This is a high-performance machine. You have to drive it hard, keep it fine tuned, ready for the next one’. Thus Kevin’s family are kindly but firmly kept away from the main reception party at the airport, and Kevin hustled off the plane and into the airport buildings like a man in police custody.

By the end of the film, the officers are conniving at Kevin’s treatment at the hands of Slaven and Hibbert, and the Army Welfare official tells Kevin’s parents, when they complain about their son being hospitalised, that ‘Kevin was never cut out to be a member of a regiment of this calibre in the first place – a classic case of blaming the victim for the crime. All in all, a rather different picture of forces life than that offered by Reach for the Sky, which mockingly plays on television while Kevin is in hospital. The kind of patriotism that expresses itself in Union Jack hats and bawling ‘Rule Britannia’ in the pub and the mess reveals its dark side in the self-righteous fury which is eventually unleashed on the unfortunate Kevin. In the latter’s conversations with Julie, and his increasingly bitter relations with the townspeople, climaxing in a drunken harangue at a bonfire night party, there is also a strong suggestion that Kevin was persuaded to join the army by his family and friends (‘You’ve used me, I was your bit for the Falklands’), with a pointed image of a burning Guy Fawkes effigy driving home the point that Kevin has become a kind of symbolic, sacrificial victim or scapegoat.

Indeed, as the film progresses, it’s possible to read Kevin as a ghost whose appearance (as in Hamlet or, for that matter, High Plains Drifter) helps to trigger off malign forces in the community. When we first see Kevin he is climbing over the brow of a hill, and such is the effect of the zoom lens and the dark blue-grey hue of the scene that he looks as if he is emerging from the ground; furthermore, his stiff gait and strange, muffled figure give him all the appearance of a zombie. There is also an extremely strange scene much later in the film when, in the course of a day out with Julie at Morecambe, Kevin appears to be walking on the water (which turns out to be the effect of a low wall with water on either side). Such a reading is also encouraged by lines of dialogue like ‘Do you believe in ghosts? Perhaps that’s what I am’, Kevin’s habit of saying things like ‘When I was dead’, and the eerie scene in which he listens to the tape of a séance in which his mother had tried to reach him.

The war itself is barely glimpsed in Resurrected, punctuating the narrative only occasionally in the form of Kevin’s confused memories and nightmares. According to Greengrass, he wanted to illustrate the remarks of a paratroop commander who described the Falklands as ‘just like the First World War’. He said it was filthy, dirty, hand-to-hand combat. ‘There’s noise, it’s dark, people are screaming, everybody’s frightened and you just stab and kill people at close quarters. It wasn’t a high tech war, it was like going back to the Somme’. For the most part, however, the director adopts a low-key approach to his material, which is quite dramatic enough to be allowed to speak for itself. The film works extremely well as an examination of the effects of the war (glimpsed on various television screens or overheard on the radio) and its aftermath on an ordinary family with no particular interest in the wider political issues involved. The casting of Tom Bell and Rita Tushingham as Kevin’s parents is particularly inspired in this respect, since both carry appropriately down-to-earth overtones thanks to their roles in various British ‘social-realist’ films of the ’60s, though both are rather under-used here. The relative restraint of the bulk of the film makes the stark brutality of the kangaroo court and ‘regimental bath’ scenes all the more effective, and one can only be thankful that the BBFC resisted the temptation to hand out an ‘18’ certificate on account of the film’s powerful and shocking climax.
Julian Petley, Monthly Film Bulletin, October 1989

Director: Paul Greengrass
Production Companies: St. Pancras Films, Film Four International, British Screen
Producers: Tara Prem, Adrian Hughes
Production Supervisor: Peter Richardson
Production Co-ordinator: Fran Triefus
Location Supervisor: Des Hughes
Assistant Directors: Waldo Roeg, Max Keene, Bernard Bellew
Casting: Gail Stevens
Script: Martin Allen
Director of Photography: Ivan Strasburg
Steadicam Operators: Peter Cavaciuti, John Ward
Special Effects: John Evans
Editor: Dan Rae
Production Designer: Chris Burke
Art Director: Mike Joyce
Storyboard Artist: Lisa Wright
Costume Designer: Tudor George
Wardrobe Supervisor: Lance Milligan
Make-up: Kathy Ducker, Pam Rayson
Titles: Plume Design
Opticals: Geoff Axtell Associates
Music: John Keane
Music Editor: Andrew Glen
Sound Recording: Mike Mcduffie
Sound Re-recording: Clive Pendry, Mick Boggis
Sound Editor: Mark Auguste
Dialogue Editor: Richard Fettes
Footsteps Editor: Anna Ksiezopolska
Footsteps Re-recording: Ted Swanscott
Stunt Adviser: Roy Alon
Combat Adviser: Ronnie Dunnett
Researcher: Felicity Gray
Military Adviser: Robert Lawrence

David Thewlis (Kevin Deakin)
Tom Bell (Mr Deakin)
Rita Tushingham (Mrs Deakin)
Michael Pollitt (Gregory Deakin)
Rudi Davies (Julie)
William Hoyland (Captain Sinclair)
Ewan Stewart (Corporal Byker)
Christopher Fulford (Slaven)
David Lonsdale (Hibbert)
Peter Gunn (Bonner)
Mark Wing-Davey (Major Dunbar)
Kenny Ireland (Denzil Clausen)
Philomena Mcdonagh (Ileen Clausen)
Gary Mavers (Johnny Fodden)
Lorraine Ashbourne (Reeva)
Alan Cody (1st reporter)
Paul Sharples (2nd reporter)
Tony Capstick (photographer)
Paul Geoffrey (vicar)
John Bowe (Colonel)
Kyle Gordon (newsboy)
Chris Gardner (1st youth)
Steve Coogan (2nd youth/man at bonfire)
Trevor Lawson (old man)
Harry Goodier (barman)
Willie Liam (Gurkha)
Kevin Shipley (man packing)
Nigel Collins (prowling/dirty man)
Paul Light (medical officer)
David O’Hara (male nurse)
Nigel Hastings (sergeant)
Bob Danvers-Walker (TV announcer)

UK 1989
96 mins

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