Photo credit: http://www.bbfc.co.uk/releases/jagten-hunt-2012
The Hunt was the first film I saw at the 2012 London Film Festival. I saw it on Thursday 11 October at the Odeon West End. It turned out to be my favourite film of the Festival because it moved and touched me deeply. I went back for a repeat viewing today (Saturday 8 December) and I am now - finally! - able to write about the film.
Cut and pasted from the BFI London Film Festival Website:
The Hunt (Jagten)
A distressing examination of a false indictment, and the collective hysteria that ensues, in this electrifying drama from Thomas Vinterberg.
Director: Thomas Vinterberg
Screenwriter: Thomas Vinterberg, Tobias Lindholm
With Mads Mikkelsen, Thomas Bo Larsen, Annika Wedderkopp
Lucas is a much-loved kindergarten teacher, finally getting back on track after a messy divorce and loss of his previous job. Lucas’ world is further shattered, however, when a young girl in his class accuses him of inappropriate behaviour. Soon the peaceful community turn against him, united by a ferocity that threatens to destroy him. Propelled by an extraordinary performance from Mads Mikkelsen, this distressing examination of a false indictment, and the collective hysteria that ensues, is an emotionally complex piece of work, balancing heart-stopping tension with intelligence and subtle provocation.
Mads Mikkelsen as Lucas, who is simply outstanding in this film
Photo credit: https://whatson.bfi.org.uk/lff/Online/default.asp?doWork::WScontent::loadArticle=Load&BOparam::WScontent::loadArticle::article_id=F4C18788-DA63-4416-A797-2F194347274C
"A story of a modern-day witch-hunt", Thomas Vinterberg
The Hunt shows how, in a small town, one false allegation can lead to your whole life unravelling and being destroyed; and how you can go from being a pillar of the community to a social outcast overnight even when you are innocent and you have done nothing wrong.
Lucas is a nursery school helper/assistant, and here his whole life is turned upside down when a little girl in the nursery, Klara, who also happens to be the daughter of one of his best friends, makes an allegation of sexual abuse against him. He is innocent but that does not stop the lie from spreading and the whole town turning against him. His life goes from one of normality to a nightmare overnight.
Klara, the little girl, is played by a beautiful little blonde girl, who looks like an angel, and personifies innocence. How could such an angel lie? It is inconceivable. And yet anyone who has ever had children, or worked with children, knows full well that children are perfectly capable of lying and do lie all the time (in fact we have all been children and so we all know in our hearts that this is true).
The scene where Klara is interviewed about the allegation shocked me to the core. On several occasions the interviewer asked leading questions, and put thoughts and words into Klara's mouth, which were not there - he planted them. This was grossly unfair and unjust. The staff at the nursery also decide that Lucas is guilty whilst investigations are still ongoing and even inform the parents of the children at the nursery that certain things have happened when the allegations are yet to be proven. Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty?
The film also deals very sensitively with issues of separation, and divorce, and family breakdown, and how fraught the relationships can be, especially when there are children involved. It also looks at the impact of the "lie" on Lucas's family; the fact that the allegation is made against him stops his son from being allowed to come and live with him.
Before you think this could never happen in the real world, although the story is a fictional one, it is based on real-life cases and so, yes, this can and has happened in the real world. To me it showed how suspicion breeds suspicion, and how easily and quickly one lie can spread and contaminate the whole water supply. It shows in graphic detail the direct effect of the lie on Lucas's life - he loses his job, he loses his girlfriend, his son can no longer come and stay with him, and the whole of the town treats him despicably. He becomes a leper and a social outcast; someone who is beyond the pale.
Lucas's world falls apart because of a false allegation of child abuse. Why this film spoke to me so powerfully and so strongly was because the same thing happened to me just over a year ago - false allegations (obviously not of child abuse) meant that I walked out of my job which effectively left me with no income and employment and that almost destroyed my life. So I can vouch for the fact that yes this does happen to ordinary people in the real world all the time; lies can destroy you even if you are innocent.
Finally I would like to add that this is a foreign language film. This is usually a problem for me because it is additional work reading the subtitles and whilst you are reading the subtitles you miss the actors acting. This was not an issue in this film at all. The subtitles are easy to read and follow and, in fact, all the meaning is conveyed in the actors' faces and expressions, so I think you would be able to follow the film and its meaning without even reading the subtitles, such is the quality of the acting across the whole cast.
I LOVED this film, and would recommend it to anyone who wants to see a ground-breaking film, that will make you think about serious issues long after the screening is over. The Hunt is intelligent, thought-provoking, dark, powerful, shocking and moving. It grips from start to finish. Highly highly recommended. Three word review: Ground-breaking. Powerful. Outstanding.
The Hunt can be found on Twitter @TheHuntTheMovie and its Twitter Hashtag is #TheLieIsSpreading.
Finally, if you need any further convincing the excellent trailer is here:
Photo credit: http://www.facebook.com/TheHuntFilmUK/photos_stream