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The Returned - Full presentation of this fantasy series (cast, characters, pictures, trailer, posters, spoiler-free review)

revenant (plural : revenants). 19th century. From French revenant, the present participle of revenir ("to return").

1. Someone who returns from a long absence.
2. A person or thing reborn.
3. A supernatural being that returns from the dead; a zombie or ghost.

With The Returned picked up by the great British network Channel 4 (Black Mirror, Utopia), I figured I should do a proper presentation of the series, a post with everything you need to know.

The past has decided to resurface.

Genre of the series : Fantasy drama.
Number of seasons : One (a second season has been announced).
Number of episodes : 8 x 55 minutes.
Broadcast on : Canal+ (Engrenages, Mafiosa, Braquo, Maison Close, Reporters, Pigalle la nuit, Scalp, Hard).
Airing dates : Mondays at 8:55pm, from November 26 to December 17, 2012.
DVD release date : December 19, 2012. €25 in shops, €20 on amazon. No Blu-ray set (*sniff*), no subtitles.
You will like this show if you like : Lost, Twin Peaks, Six Feet Under, with a dash of The Walking Dead (it's a more human, cerebral take on zombies).

Synopsis : In an alpine town dominated by a huge dam, several people from different ages and backgrounds, all disoriented, try to get home. They don't know yet that they have been dead for several years, that they haven't aged and that no one is expecting them. Determined to regain a place that is no longer theirs, they come to discover that they're not the only revenants and that their return has set in motion increasing disturbances. What if this was only the inception of an even greater upheaval ?

Trailer :

Budget : €11 million / $14,29 million (€1,38 mllion / $1,79 million per episode).
Filming : 4 and a half months, from March 26 to August 15, 2012 in and around Annecy (Haute-Savoie).
Production company : Haut et Court (the 2011 Arte series Xanadu about a family in the porn industry).
Creator / writer : Fabrice Gobert (Simon Werner a disparu), based on the 2004 film Les revenants.
Other writers : Emmanuel Carrère (director/writer of the excellent The Moustache, worked with Gobert on the first episodes) & Fabien Adda (worked with Gobert on the last episodes, he described him as a "specialist of science-fiction and fantasy"). Also, Céline Sciamma, Nicolas Peufaillit and Catherine Hoffman worked on the previous version of the show.
Directors : Fabrice Gobert (episodes 1.01 to 1.04) and Frédéric Mermoud (episodes 1.05 to 1.08).
Music composed by : The Scottish group Mogwai. The soundtrack is available now.

Fun fact (well, fun… let's say it's just a fact) : Ana Girardot, who plays Lucy in Les revenants, played the leading role in Gobert's Simon Werner a disparu - here's an extract with her.

Another fun fact : For that film, which earned him a César nomination for meilleur premier film (best first picture), Fabrice Gobert wanted nothing less than Sonic Youth to compose the music. He showed them a few scenes from the film, and they said yes. Here's one of the themes of the film. For Les revenants, Gobert got another big catch, Mogwaï, which composed the truly amazing soundtrack.

Official website : http://lesrevenants.canalplus.fr/

Here are the main characters :

- Anne Consigny plays Claire Séguret, Léna & Camille's mother, she kept praying for her daughter to come back.
- Frédéric Pierrot plays Jérôme Séguret, Léna & Camille's father, he couldn't cope with Camille's death.
- Yara Pilartz plays Camille Séguret, 14, Léna's twin, who comes back from the dead.
- Jenna Thiam plays Léna Séguret, 17, Camille's twin, who is very connected to her sister.

- Céline Sallette plays Julie, a nurse who got assaulted and (nearly ?) died 7 years ago.
- Swann Nambotin plays "Victor", a mysterious little boy who believes Julie is a fairy.
- Alix Poisson plays Laure, a gendarme who used to be in a relationship with Julie.

- Samir Guesmi plays Thomas, captain of the local gendarmerie.
- Clotilde Hesme plays Adèle Werther, a teacher in a relationship with Thomas.
- Pierre Perrier plays Simon Delaître, a revenant who was supposed to get married with Adèle.
- Brune Martin plays Chloé, Adèle and Simon's daugher.

- Jean-François Sivadier plays Pierre, in charge of a support group for grieving parents.
- Ana Girardot plays Lucy Clarsen, a waitress at the Lake Pub who has special abilities.
- Grégory Gadebois plays Toni, Serge's brother and owner of the Lake Pub.
- Guillaume Gouix plays Serge, a pyschopath who used to butcher women in the tunnel, now he isn't dead.

- Matila Malliarakis plays Frédéric, Camille's boyfriend before the accident.
- Constance Dollé plays Sandrine, mother of Audrey, a little girl who died in the bus with Camille.
- Jérôme Kircher plays Father Jean-François, priest at the local church.
- Laetitia de Fombelle plays Madame Costa, who died in the 70s.

Are great subtitles available ? YES, in both French and English, as far as I know. PDTV.x264-DEAL, 720p.HDTV.x264-JMT, DVDRip.XviD-JMT : all the available releases are covered so you don't have to miss out on anything until your country acquires Les revenants for broadcast. And I'm finding out now that the Russian iTunes has released the whole season in both French and Russian (WEB-DL.720p.DD5.1.H.264.Rus.Fre). It's probably the best quality available, and English subtitles for this version are available too. Hopefully Canal+ will release a Blu-ray set soon, so we can buy it, the show truly deserves to be seen in HD. Anyway, you really have no excuse.

My little review (spoiler-free) :

I love it, it's quite simply the best new series of the 2012/13 season so far, a must-see for lovers of intelligent sci-fi/fantasy. The atmosphere, whether it is the sound (Mogwai's perfect score) or visually (a directing that takes the time to have pretty angles/shots), is just captivating, and blends well with this original mountainous setting that gives a lot of charm (and mystery) to the show. Even though French cinema is not known to be the reference in the fantasy/science-fiction genre (at least in film or TV), Les revenants doesn't try to mimic American series/films (something Braquo is sort of doing) and remains very 'French' in its approach: despite the extraordinary undertone it remains intimate, human, reflective of many tough and fascinating questions (the main one being, "how do you live after you've died?") and very mysterious. Les revenants has its own identity, unlike anything you've seen before. The whole cast was fantastic, Céline Sallette, Yara Pilartz and Jenna Thiam in particular. Even though many would say the first 4 episodes are the best ones, but I found it compelling and very addictive throughout the season. Episode 1.08 ends in a way that might frustrate you (think of the hatch in Lost) but overall the feeling of wanting to know more takes over and you just can't wait for the second season (which will probably arrive in the next 12-15 months).