Les Revenants

There was briefly an American made TV series called ‘The Returned’ the synopsis for which is as follows:

The American adapted series follows residents in a small town whose lives are disrupted when people who have been dead for many years begin reappearing. The series premiered on March 9, 2015, but was cancelled by A&E after one season, on June 15, 2015.

This suggests it wasn’t really very good. I saw a few episodes and it was actually quite watchable, but here’s the problem, it was a remake of a French TV series called ‘Les Revenants’ which is ‘The Returned’ but in French, which in turn was based on a 2004 French film They Came Back (in French titled Les Revenants) directed by Robin Campillo, and the French series was really very good indeed and part of the reason for that was because it didn’t happen in America. It was French, in France, with French people, which is part of what made it interesting for some of us non-French folk. The same thing happened with Forbrydelsen,_DVD‘Forbrydelsen’ (The Killing), it was Danish, set in Denmark with Danish people speaking Danish and the way the characters behaved, each look, each sigh, every little nuance, could not be separated from that. The American version was terrible I thought. It premiered on April 3, 2011 and it’s cancellation was announced in July 2013 but AMC picked it up for a third season after a renegotiation with Fox Television Studios and Netflix. It was again cancelled by AMC in September 2013, but Netflix announced in November 2013 that it had ordered a fourth season consisting of six episodes to conclude the series. The complete fourth season was released on Netflix in all territories on August 1, 2014. While this one did get to the end, the original Danish series was brilliant television and, to be honest, didn’t need a remake. Yes it was subtitled, but that didn’t detract from it at all, it was part of what made it so interesting. Moving it from Copenhagen to Seattle  wasn’t the answer and the U.S. version missed many of the subtleties that made the original so good, not least Sarah Lunds jumpers.

I’ve digressed, but remakes in English are a pet hate of mine, remakes in American English even more so (I have nothing against America by the way, just most of it’s TV executives). Back to Les Revenants, what the U.S series lacked just as much as the very Frenchness of the original was the truly brilliant Soundtrack by Mogwai. Why didn’t the U.S verison use an already existing soundtrack which the composers/performers were quite happy for them to use? I’ve no idea. I do know they gave the job to Nicholas Jaar instead, who I really like, so that was an excellent move, had he done it, for some reason it never happened and now I can’t even find a music credit for it on IMDB or a few other places I’ve looked. As far as I can ascertain from ‘Tune Find‘ it wasn’t scored, they just used songs such as the following:

Welcome Home – RADICAL FACE
Lost In My Mind – THE HEAD AND THE HEART
Elephant’s Bed – DESERT NOISES
Time’s a Headache – MOZES AND THE FIRSTBORN
Better for You – SAID THE WHALE
Canon In D Major – MAINZ CHAMBER ORCHESTRA & GUNTER KEHR

I’m at a loss with these choices. They may very well be wonderful songs, but why use them when the original score was so very good. I have an example, below is a video that somebody has put together using clips from the original French series using the track ‘Special N’ from the soundtrack by Mogwai.

Oh my, to me that is just wonderful, the underwater scene with the animal corpses coupled with that music is mesmerising, or you could have this fine song from the U.S version:

That’s enough moaning from me, put simply, the Mogwai soundtrack works as an album just as well as it does a soundtrack, it’s beautiful, haunting music that I go back to time and time again, it just has an intimate, low-key brilliance that really resonates with me.

Track List:

  1. “Hungry Face”
  2. “Jaguar”
  3. “The Huts”
  4. “Kill Jester”
  5. “This Messiah Needs Watching”
  6. “Whisky Time”
  7. “Special N”
  8. “Relative Hysteria”
  9. “Fridge Magic”
  10. “Portugal”
  11. “Eagle Tax”
  12. “Modern”
  13. “What Are They Doing in Heaven Today?” (cover of a song by Washington Phillips, written by Charles Albert Tindley)
  14. “Wizard Motor”

Here, should you wish to enrich your life, is the whole album:

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