NDE: Ellen Burstyn In ‘Resurrection’ (A Fabulous 1980 Movie)

NDE: Ellen Burstyn In ‘Resurrection’ (A Fabulous 1980 Movie)

Jul 15



Resurrection is a 1980 film which tells the story of a woman who survives the car accident and discovers that a near-death experience has given her the power to heal other people. Ellen Burstyn delivers a tour-de-force performance as the modern-day miracle in this unforgettable story. It stars Ellen Burstyn, Sam Shepard, Richard Farnsworth, Roberts Blossom and Eva LeGallienne. The movie was nominated for two Academy Awards; one for Best Actress in a Leading Role (Ellen Burstyn) and another for Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Eva LeGallienne).



• Watch Resurrection here (1 hour, 43 minutes long – 903 MB)
Watch Resurrection on NetFlix
Purchase Resurrection DVD on Amazon

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Ellen Burstyn: Part One Part Two
The Guardian
November 4, 2000


In about 1977 I was in Greece making a film with Jules Dassin called A Dream of Passion, and my agent called me and said that there was this script called Resurrection in which Jesus Christ comes back to Earth as a woman. I said, ‘Oooh. I like that.’


So they sent me the script and then the director and the producer came to Athens to meet me and I said that I really liked the idea of the script, but I didn’t like the script itself. It was about this school teacher who went to Jerusalem and started bleeding from the palms. It just didn’t make an awful lot of sense to me.

So I suggested that they did a script about a woman who was a very ordinary housewife in contemporary society who develops some of the abilities that Jesus had – like healing and so forth. At the time I was doing a lot of reading about the re-emergence of the goddess and I liked the idea of reuniting sexuality and religion – a religious figure who was also a sensual being. I sketched out a rough story for them and the director said, well it’s a good story but we have the go-ahead from Universal to make this script and did I want to do it. I said no, and they left.

When they got back to their hotel the producer called me and said, ‘We like your story more than our story, and with your permission we’d like to go back to Universal and ask them if we can start over and find a writer to write your story.’ So they did.

They found a writer called Lewis John Carlino, who came to my house in New York and stayed with me for about a week, and I told him my life story plus all that I was reading and studying at the time, and out of that came the script that he wrote in, I think, 18 days. We got a new director, Daniel Petrie, and out came Resurrection.

I loved it, and it has had a lot of meaning for a lot of people because it deals with death a lot and the passing over to the other side and the experiences of some of the people I had read about who had had near-death experiences, and that was put into the film. So many people have written and told me how they have been with their parents and helped them cross over because of Resurrection. And that’s pleased me very deeply.

It wasn’t very successful because at the time Universal had no faith in it, and they had another film, which I won’t mention, that they had already released and made a lot of money from, with an actress in it who they felt had a good opportunity to win the Best Actress award. And my reviews said, ‘Just as so-and-so looked to have a clear shot at the Oscar, along comes Ellen Burstyn in Resurrection.’ So Universal made an executive decision to put all their money behind the film that they thought was very successful. And it was. And she did win.


They pulled Resurrection out of the theatres, so it was running in New York and I was nominated for the Oscar and there was no ad in the newspapers to say it was running. So it was literally killed. Which is a very painful experience, you know, when you love a piece of work and it comes out the way you wanted it to come out and people like it, but the studio decides to kill it. That’s one of the glories of showbusiness.



Download an .mp4 version of Resurrection here  (903 MB – 1 hour, 43 minutes long)



  1. This is a great movie. Fascinating background info in this interview about it being really Burstyn’s creation. I’m amazed and glad it’s on Netflix and Youtube now. I spent years trying to track down a copy. I very much think it was suppressed because of its message of how powerful the individual, yea even a woman :), can be following her / his own spirit and not conforming to TPTB.

  2. I saw this movie just before I met Ken Ring in the early 80s. I couldn’t believe it. I had kept quiet about my NDE for 6 or 7 years and now I was seeing someone with healing abilities. I had gone back to school and become a respiratory therapist so I could work with sick people. In so many ways my after effects were just like Ellen Burstyn’s character in this movie. And I had no one at all that understood til I saw this movie. Within a month I went to a conference where Ken Ring was presenting. I had written him once and he then invited me to meet him at this conference. During his talk he asked if I was in the audience and then he asked me to share my experience. I got up feeling very foolish but told my experience half convinced that people would think me crazy. I kept my eyes glued to Ken the whole time. I was very scared so I could only look at him. There was an uncomfortable pause when I finished and then everyone (about 80 people) applauded — and kept applauding for a long time. It was amazing.

    And like Ellen Burstyn’s character, it was very hard to go home after that. No one wanted to know anything about “it” or me and my changes.

    I met the author of this story a few years later when I went to Esalen with Ken and a group of people for a meeting. I told my story in the living room of the “big house” and the author sat and listened with tears in his eyes. When it was his turn to speak he said that he never researched the experience or after effects. The whole story came to him in one amazing idea. He said that even though she was an “imaginary” character, he fell in love with her.

    I think his contribution through his art form is an amazing contribution especially for those of us who are going through all these changes.

  3. Barbara, thanks for sharing these beautiful stories! Life is so full of remarkable people, experiences, and yes, even movies. How fortunate we are that God/Spirit loves us enough to appear, constantly, in so many eye-opening, life-changing, unexpectedly marvelous forms. And how lucky I/we are to share the journey with people like you who constantly remind us that the magic is real…

  4. Melodye Chisholm

    I was as a teenager totally touched and moved by this movie for decades after first seeing it. I read about NDE’s and people like Dannion Brinkley who was struck by lightning twice and had near death experiences where he was given telepathic powers and visions of the future. This movie (and others) opened the public up to the possibilities of life beyond this one. Glad to see it’s now avail on dvd and Youtube so I can continue to share the message.

  5. Waylon J.

    This movie and the movie “Butterflies are free” should be watched together, because both movies in the 1970s are all about loving people. The actresses in both movies, are what both men and women should aspire to be in this world. May more people see this movie and follow the good example set by the actresses.

  6. Interesting that the studio would “kill” their own movie. It makes one think there are powerful interests (in a worldly sense) not wanting a movie so close to the Truth, to do well. Even if it cost them money to bury it.

    In 1980 I was a keen movie goer and already had an interest in NDEs, but I cannot recall hearing anything about this movie.

    I shall watch it.

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