Wednesday, 16 January 2013

The Hunt.

We’ve had some really thought provoking films as part of Robert Burns Centre Film Theatre Film Club over the years but none more so than the Danish drama The Hunt (2012). A film whose subject matter is never far from the headlines: the accusations arising from the sexual abuse of young children. Hosted by Julie McMorran who began the evening by giving us some background to both the director and the main lead actor.

Thomas Vinterberg, whose looks defy his age, is a Danish film director born in 1969, who in 1995 along with his fellow countrymen, the enfant terrible Lars von Trier, Kristian Levring and Soren Kragh-Jacobsen, co-founded the Dogme 95 movement in filmmaking which laid down specific rules to simplify movie making including creating films without artificial technology or techniques. Vinterberg made the first film created under this movement. The award winning Festen (1998) is about a family gathering to celebrate the 60th birthday of their father. At the dinner the eldest son publicly accuses his father of sexually abusing both him and his now dead sister. Further success was not forthcoming until 2010’s Submarino restoring his reputation in his native country.

Mads Mikkelsen has been making feature films since his debut in Pusher in 1996 is probable best known in the UK for playing Le Chiffre, the villain who cries blood, in Casino Royale (2006), Rochefont in The Three Musketeers (2011) and Johan Struensee in The Royal Affair (2011) which received a nomination for the Best Foreign Language Film in 2013’s Golden Globe Awards.

The 6 year-old Klara is interviewed by her Head teacher.
Peter Bradshaw described The Hunt as a portrait of pure evil, and he was not referring to any of the individuals in the film but to the subject matter, where everyone is to blame and yet no one is to blame for the emotional backlash generated against an innocent man.  The story takes place in a small close-knit Danish community. Lucas (Mikkelsen) is an over qualified nursery teacher, recently divorced and estranged from his son who he obviously loves deeply. 6-year-old Klara is the daughter of Lucas’s best friend but would appear to lack affection from her parents and turns to Lucas for the warmth and the love she craves, but he rejects her innocent advances. Following a crude incident involving internet pornography she cruelly tells the kindergarten’s headmistress a pack of lies that will have a life changing effect on the stunned Lucas.

All hell breaks loose at the Christmas Eve service.

A reveling study of modern day human emotion, without sermonising, dark and upsetting but not without a certain humour. Beautifully filmed with autumnal scenes and colours that at times offset the bleakness of this extremely tough watch. Mikkelsen certainly deserved the Best Actor Award at 2012 Cannes Film Festival because while you were intently watching Mikkelsen you never once saw the actor, only the character. Thanks must go to Julie who skillfully introduced a movie with a problematic subject matter but one that certainly resonates through Britain today with the repercussions from the Jimmy Savile affair.

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