Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical (hermionesviolin) wrote,
Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical

They Came Back (2004) MFA, French (14 July 2006)

They Came Back (Les Revenants, France, 2004, 102 min.)

The MFA guy who introduced the film said that while obviously the bulk of the festival is aimed at their mainstay audience who want typical French film, i.e. romantic comedy, they like to have some stuff that's different.  To which my reaction was: What festival have you been watching?  Because the two I'd seen so far were dark&depressing, and my impression of the festival catalog as a whole was that v. few of the films showing would be described as "romantic comedies."

Though I know Spanish rather than French, it seemed to me that "Les Revenants" would translate as "The revenants" (plural article, plural noun) rather than (plural pronoun, past tense verb) and indeed, dictionary.com gives it to me as "Ghosts."  The English title seems to me an homage to the zombie genre -- which it obv. was (says she who was surprisingly entertained by Shaun of the Dead but really has no interest in zombie stories) but the French title seems much more accurate to the film itself.

Is it a French thing to bury your dead in light clothes?  I always think of burial clothes as dark clothes.

From her very first appearance, the head politician guy's wife seems unchanged, which was weird since all the other returnees had this blankness going on.

Sylvain: Upset to find his room empty -- but we brought everything up from the basement so now it's okay.  Which totally implies that one should keep all the old stuff, which is v. troubling -- and totally reads as a criticism of Rachel, whom we suspect has moved on.  (We never get an explicit answer as to what she is afraid of.)
He doesn't say much, but it's good to see him shout, play, have fun.  This statement is interesting because we never actually see Sylvain doing that (he sort of plays, but that's it).  We do see the zombie guy spinning him on that whatever it's called -- which Isham interrupts, fearing for his son's safety I imagine.  Isham is the one who insists their son is okay and that they need to keep him and everything (in contrast to the mom, who v. much wants to be rid of him, which I sympathize with a lot -- though she's way more sympathetic than I would have been) but he's also keeping Sylvain away from this guy who is one of "them" -- is it out of fear of "them"? fear of strangers generally? general protective urge over child?

aphasia... latent phase/waking period
I loved the idea of "latent phase/waking period."

Resistant to infection...5 degree lower body temp (me, in retrospect: is that Celsius? 'cause that's way more intense than 5oF)...chemical straitjacket

The gun with the drug in it reminded me of X3.

They're just pretending to sleep; they're active all the time.  V. creepy.

Echo-Memory [explanation for the returnees facial expressions after resocialization -- reminded me of autism, or something like since autistics obv. wouldn't have any memory of "normal" functioning]

"The aggressiveness of the dead force us to..."
Isn't that just a fabulous phrase, for its "when would you ever say that" quality?

I really liked the mom being so freaked out and worn out by her son.  (Especially as someone who is v. "small doses" re: young children.  My impression was that the dad worked and the mom stayed home, so I had little patience with the dad's rejection of the mom's complaints.)

I loved the mom letting the kid climb over the ledge.  Did I mention that earlier I was getting a Village of the Damned vibe?  And of course we the audience knew he didn't die from the impact.

Great visual gag with all the returnees coming out from behind the trees.

When they were talking about the gas explosions I was thinking, "Why is it so important?  Why not let them go?

The man running holding the kid was such a powerful image -- because it's an archetypal one.  And here the govt./society is the bad guy.

I had thought they were bringing them back to the centres -- which struck me as v. futile -- but dude, graveyard!  Definitely ups the creepifying factor.  And what's up with the fade away?  Was that actual (and if so, was it planned? by the regulars? by the power that brought back the dead?) or was it just supposed to signify time lapse (i.e. that they got reburied)?  And of course, what happened to those who did make it to the tunnels?  I think I'd be willing to concede a "leave it up to the viewer" approach to interpretation as to what the point of the film was (I had thoughts about societal control, and other people had thoughts about grief and letting go) but I really disliked having this moderately big deal made of the returnees all being drawn to this one endgoal and then just having it dropped (maybe I'm just too American?).
Tags: film: mfa, films: foreign: french, movies: watched

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