High concept seems to be the name of the game these days, but it is so difficult to think of something that has not been done before. I've finally caught up with a couple of episodes of The Returned, or Les Revenants, a series running on Channel Four at the moment. Talk about odd? This is odd. For a start it is all in French with subtitles in English, but I quite like that because then I can read and follow the story. So many modern productions have "real" soundtracks that make following conversations difficult. So the story concerns a young girl, Camille, who was killed in a coach crash. The story opens with her neatly climbing over the dam wall four years later and walking down the road. She's going home.
She's very noisy for a ghost. Her footfalls and heavy breathing echo on the lonely mountain road, and when she gets home, she walks straight into the kitchen and raids the fridge. Her mother, torn between horror and wonder, can barely speak. How about that for a story opening? I have only watched two episodes but may have to watch right to the end just to see the explanation - if there is one.
Writers of fantasy and science fiction are at liberty to delve into this sort of thing. I'm not so sure I can get away with it in historical fiction. But the theme of Les Revenants kept coming back to me - how would I feel if someone re-appeared when I knew they had died? The mere though makes my back hair tingle, and I don't have an answer. I suspect I would be like Lena, Camille's twin sister but now four years older than Camille - freaked out. These things should not happen. If all the laws of life and death are tossed aside, where would that leave us? It's a terrible thought, but definitely high concept.