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Les revenants (The Living Dead) — First photos and interviews

Nightfall is nigh. Camille, a young red-headed teenager, is in a hurry to go back home, in the calm of a small town in the mountains. She's hungry, and she's worried : how can she have ended up in the wild so far from home without any recollection of what she was doing there ? Camille died three years ago in a car crash.

In this long-awaited series, which Canal+ will air this autumn, there will be a handful like Camille, departed coming back among the living. Shock for the bereaved parents, brothers & sisters, spouses. Plunge into a scary unknown for the living dead : why them ? Are they still the same ? Can they still find their place ? Fabrice de la Patellière, director of original programming, saw with Les revenants "an opportunity to tackle the fantasy genre in an unusual way".

"For two or three years, the project has taken lots of different directions, depending on the various authors that worked in the development process. With such a subject, possibilities are endless. A specific frame had to be included. We dropped the idea of a massive return of the dead with its logistical problems and global repercussions, reminding us of all the clichés of disaster films".

Fabrice Gobert, writer of all 8 episodes (and director of episodes 1 to 4), approached the project with a very intimate, humane point of view : "what do you experience when you reunite with someone you loved and lost ? How do you tell the story of someone who wakes up and realizes he/she's been dead for a few years ?". He multiplied the sources of inspiration : "First of all, the trickiest part was to define how to insert elements of fantasy in a very realistic universe, how to operate this change, by lots of little touches of mystery. For instance, I reread novels by Maupassant and Poe. Having your references isn't something negative, you have to assume them. Pull out of the references you're drawn to would require a tremendous effort and all that the viewers would see would be the "forced" aspect of the storytelling".

Caroline Benjo, producer on the show, says : "Like the audience, the characters of the show will think about movies. Some of the living dead will think about that and struggle with the possibility of their transformation in zombies".

One of Fabrice Gobert's favorite show is Six Feet Under : "I love series like that, where the characters matter more than the stories, they drive the plot instead of being driven by it. Series like that is like a rendez-vous with people instead of stories". Emmanuel Carrère, writer of episodes 5 to 8 on Les revenants, is also a fan of SFU, and explains his vision for Les revenants : "the way I see it, you should leave time to time, to have patience and care about these people, their emotions, to give meaning to their situation. For it to be thrilling and efficient on the long haul, you have to slow things down. The first episode entirely focuses on the first night of the event and nothing more. It's huge enough as it is. You have to take the idea of dead people coming back to life very seriously : for the "living" people seeing those dead people walking among them, it's the most staggering thing in the world, and the show will never take that for granted".

"The scenery is very important. They're all filmed the same way, with lots of large shots and a lot of light. The idea is to have something very framed, with long, slow tracking shots instead of sudden moves".

"When you do a television series, it's essential to ask yourself how you're going to tell the story visually, without having identified and firmly opposing everything that already exists in the genre. Not wanting to do like something is as risky as trying to do exactly like something. With Frédéric Mermoud (director of episodes 5 to 8) and the director of photography, we talked a lot about the universe of Charles Burns (author of the Black Hole comic-book series), about photographs of Gregory Crewdson, to the mood of the show being inspired of fantasy cinema. Multiply the references allows you not to be crushed by a single one".

If you want to know more about the cast of Les revenants, go this thorough thread I created a few months ago.

Les revenants will air this fall on Canal+, probably after Engrenages (Spiral) season 4 (12 episodes) finishes its run. Original series lined up for early 2013 are Maison Close season 2 (8 episodes) and Borgia season 2 (12 episodes).

Source : Télérama.

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