The new hit drama from channel 4, The Returned, originates from a 2004 French film of the same name; a film which is set to be rereleased on the 22nd July 2013. Many may approach this release with trepidation, fearful of the dreaded spoiler, but rest assured as far as I can tell, being only 3 episodes into the series, the film is completely free of spoilers taking a more wide reaching and logistical view on the phenomenon. The phenomenon, for people unfamiliar with the show, is that people have inexplicably returned from the grave in a small French town.
Set in a sleepy town, but with a global view, The Returned gives an emotional, logistical and medical view on the dead returning from the grave. The Returnees are numbered at 70 million worldwide, with thousands returning to the town where the action is based. This influx of new/old residents creates many logistical problems for the towns people who are keen to welcome their deceased back to the land of the living. This logistical view, free from panic, is a refreshing change from other such “zombie” movies.
As well as the logistical view of the phenomenon we also see the medical side, again adding an interesting depth which is often missing in “Walking Dead-esque” offerings.
The film centres on several relationships; mother and son, elderly husband and wife, boyfriend and girlfriend. This examination of a breadth of experiences is typically French in its execution, with minimal dialogue but intense emotion.
While the TV series’ basis is more mysterious, giving little away as the the reason or motive for the sudden return of the dead, the film gives up on explanation pretty quickly. Forcing its characters to adapt to the new personalities of their loved ones, and focusing on reintegration rather than explanation. This key difference makes the film a welcome addition to the TV series, raising more questions than it answers (and frankly it answers no questions at all) only whetting your appetite even further for the conclusion/explanation/anything the TV series can offer.
You might think this lack of conclusion would be frustrating but given the deep bond formed with the main characters, any explanation for anything so inexplicably would have seemed disappointingly trite.
The foreign language burden this film carries will put off some viewers, but the minimal dialogue and intensity of the cinematography makes it an easy watch/read, so give it a go even if foreign cinema isn’t your usual choice.
This film is a must see for fans of the show, and the show is a must see for everyone. The Returned walks the delicate balance between intrigue and emotion right to the end of its 100 minutes.
The Returned is released on the 22nd July 2013
Catch The Returned (TV series) on Channel 4OD.
Charlotte Keeys, Jackanory Reviews. Twitter: @jackanoryreviews