Movie Review: SUNSHINE (Signature Release) Blu-ray

SUNSHINE is based on the life of Jacquelyn M. “Lyn” Helton. The 1973 made-for-television docudrama was directed by Joseph Sargent from a screenplay by Carol Sobieski and stars Cristina Raines, Cliff De Young, Meg Foster, Bill Mumy, Corey Fischer, James Hong and Brenda Vaccaro. The score is by John Denver.

Kate’s got everything she wants. Her husband her baby, but just a few months to live. Sunshine, a true story, based on the journals of a young wife and mother diagnosed with terminal cancer, was originally a Made-for-Television Docu-Drama and aired on CBS November 9th, 1973. It was the most watched Television Film in history and its emotional impact still resonates to this day. Directed by Joseph Sargent and Produced by George Eckstein it features an iconic soundtrack with words and music by John Denver. This is a lost treasure, as movies go, and Redwind Productions are privileged to have the opportunity to bring this poignant, beautiful motion picture to home video for the very first time in any format.

The opening scene for this 1973 telefilm shows a man scattering ashes from an urn up in the mountains and he’s surrounded by dozens of friends singing and celebrating the life of the recently deceased. Sunshine follows Kate (Cristina Raines) and Sam (Cliff DeYoung), two free-spirited twenty-somethings who live their simple lives in the mountains worry free. Kate is pregnant and Sam isn’t the father but that doesn’t stop him from falling in love with her, marrying her and claiming the child as his own when she’s born. The thing is, Kate has been dealing with some strange pain in one of her legs that gets a few misdiagnoses in the beginning but ultimately ends up being diagnosed as cancer and Sam is right there by her side as she deals with this life-changing experience. The young mother learns what she’s dealing with and she handles it as well as anyone her age possibly can. Kate has osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer which leaves her with two options – she can either have her leg amputated or undergo chemotherapy.

This is where Dr. Carol Gillman (Brenda Vaccaro) enters the picture and helps Kate deal with her battle with cancer. Dr. Gillman also becomes sort of a mother figure for Kate who doesn’t really have any parental figures in her life and the young woman welcomes this close new relationship. Sam and Kate end up getting a new place that’s close to the hospital where she’ll be spending a lot of her time and this is where they meet their downstairs neighbor, Nora (Meg Foster), who becomes a helpful asset for the young couple. Kate doesn’t go with Plan A so she decides to give the medical treatments a try and it ends up putting a strain on her close relationship with Sam. The medicine causes so much stress between Kate and Sam that she decides to stop taking it knowing what the end result will be – but she makes this choice so she can enjoy what little time she has left with her family. What happens is, Dr. Gillman gives a tape recorder to Kate and tells her to document as much as she can about her life so her daughter would know a little more about her mother after she dies.

The front of the packaging features the artwork you see at the top of the page and the back includes movie details, some images, a few quotes, and list of special features. The reverse sleeve features another image from the movie. The Blu-ray disc also features some artwork that matches the front cover. Inside is a booklet from Redwind Productions that includes more original artwork, some promotional images and liner notes. You can see the front cover of the booklet down below. Inserting the disc, the menu screen was simple and easy to navigate. Redwind Productions went back to the original film elements to create a 4K DPX scan, fully restoring the film to its original aspect ratio for presentation in the stunningly superior Blu-ray Master format. The picture and sound quality for this high-definition release were crisp and clear. I didn’t have any issues with the video and audio.

Bottom line is, Sunshine was another first time watch for me and it’s a movie that’ll strike a nerve with a lot of viewers. Just about all of us have either had a family member or a friend who’s battled this terrible disease and this movie delivers a touching showcase of this one heartbreaking event. Cliff De Young does a great job as this care-free amatuer musician who falls for this beautiful young woman and stays by her side after she gets the bad news. Christina Raines delivers an emotionally powerful performance as this free-spirited soul who’s dealt a deadly hand but still tries to make the best of it until the very end. The young woman is stubborn in the way she handles some of her problems, and even though she could have possibly made a few better choices, she did it her way and loved her husband and daughter until she drew her last breath. What director Joseph Sargent was able to do with this project was bring this young woman’s tragic story to the small screen and it touched the hearts of so many viewers that it became the most watched made-for-TV movie in history. Last but not least, some of John Denver’s biggest hits are the soundtrack to Kate’s unforgettable journey. Sunshine is finally available on home video so that fans of this movie can revisit it and a whole new generation of cinephiles can experience it. Sunshine is the first Blu-ray release from Redwind Productions, under its Signature Release series, and is now available exclusively at screenarchives.com and twilighttimemovies.com.

Distributor: Redwind Productions

Run Time: 124 Minutes

Rated: Not Rated

Blu-ray Video: 1080p High-Definition Full Frame (1.33:1) / Color / Region Free

Blu-ray Audio: English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0

Subtitles: English SDH

Special Features: The extras include some Song & Dialogue Chapter Stops (gives the viewer a short cut to every scene that includes music) and the Original Theatrical Trailer (01:00).

 

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