Just been watching…(31)

The Hunt (2012)
(Original Danish language, English subtitles)

***Spoilers avoided***

I had read good reviews of this film at the time, so was pleased to see it being shown by the BBC. Mads Mikkelsen is a Danish actor well-known to international audiences, appearing in such blockbusters as ‘Doctor Strange’, and ‘Casino Royale.’ In this film, his part is that of an ordinary man, a quiet divorcee living in rural Denmark. It is a small community, and Lucas (Mikkelsen) is a teacher at the local nursery school, popular with the children and staff alike.

Some scene-setting shows him out with his male friends; drinking, bonding, and hunting deer. He has problems getting access to his son, as his relationship with his ex-wife is a difficult one. His best friends Theo and Agnes live nearby, and their daughter Klara is a pupil at the school where Lucas works. Klara really likes Lucas. She often gets him to walk her to school, and asks to walk his dog too. Though she is too young to be out alone, Klara also wanders off, waiting around near the local supermarket hoping to see Lucas.

One day at school, Klara gives Lucas a present of a plastic heart, and tries to kiss him. He tells her that this is wrong, but she doesn’t understand. Later, she makes an accusation of sexual misconduct against him to the headmistress, Grethe. After thinking about what the little girl has said, the next day Grethe confronts Lucas. Despite his denials, she suspends him, informs the police, and tells all the parents what has happened too. Things start to get bad for Lucas, very quickly.

What follows is an all-too plausible scenario of the impact of this accusation in a very close-knit community. Events escalate as more children are questioned, and add to the first allegation. Lucas can only watch in disbelief as former friends turn on him, and his everyday life becomes a living nightmare. Mikkelsen is flawless in the role of Lucas. I managed to forget that he was an international star, and to become immersed in the pain and anguish of his character. The other actors are not so well-known outside of Denmark, but this was a positive thing, giving the film real impact that at times made it feel like a documentary. Tiny Annika Wedderkopp is simply amazing in the role of young Klara. She acts with a talent that belies her youth, and projects a range of emotions that also drive along the story. This is an important film about the way society reacts to a specific event, and I was riveted, despite the familiar theme.

Considering the subject matter, nothing sexual is ever shown, though there is some violence between adults. The assertion throughout that children are always believed; that they are not natural liars so any allegation must be considered to be true, leaves the viewer realising that Lucas is in a situation that could happen to anyone anywhere. This is where the film delivers the most impact, and started to remind me of the Salem Witch Trials centuries earlier.

Mikkelsen won the Best Actor award at the Cannes Film Festival for his performance as Lucas, and the film was nominated for Best Foreign Film at the BAFTA and Oscar ceremonies. You will understand why.

Here’s the official trailer.


30 thoughts on “Just been watching…(31)

      1. It saddens me that the balance of the universe has been tilted off its axis. I’ve been paying attention and it appears over here it started way back in the nineties and just kept tilting.. Even my son and daughter ask me what’s happening to everyone..

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I found the film very well directed, and Mikkelsen was phenomenal in it, but I had a huge problem with the script. I find it impossible to believe that a claim such as that would, not only be looked into (as it deserves to be), but taken as true without so much as the tiniest doubt. Even if a child makes the claim, these claims I believe are thoroughly investigated, by psychologists etc., and it was unjustified (not to mention, completely unfair) to demonize a member of the community on scanty evidence. I just could not believe it. Would you, easily and unquestioningly, believe something like that for someone that has been pretty much your friend your entire life? Call me naive, but I think I know my closest friends well enough. And I found that the movie took advantage of the situation (which is rather unusual, if one considers it), of a male teacher in a kindergarten or elementary school, where usually women are the norm. I just couldn’t swallow any of it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I understand what you are saying, Nandia. I watched this film feeling that it would have been much more satisfying as a six-part drama series that could explore all those areas. Despite the many holes you highlight, I think they did all they could within the time limits of the film. As for the teacher being male, perhaps that is more usual in some European countries? I don’t know.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I wonder at what age children begin to tell lies? As you know, I taught elementary school for a few years. I can tell you that by age 10, the art of the lie had been very well developed. Also, I found that children would defend the lies of others, and had no problem sticking to their guns when faced by a questioning adult. In fact, they had virtually no respect for adults, including the school principal. I can’t generalize based on my experience, as I was teaching students that belonged to an ethnic minority issued from a different culture.
    The film you so excellently review sounds very interesting. If only my DVD drive worked, perhaps I could find the disc at the library so I could watch it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The children in this film are very young, maybe only 4-5. Our grandson is only 27 months old, but is already adept at denial, if not outright lying. As in, “Who did that? Was it you/” Answer, “No”.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have to support this further as Malina is quick to deny at the age of three, although having caught her out on several occasions a look direct into her eyes will normally reveal the truth quickly followed by verbal confirmation. Its asy to say no when no one is looking 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  3. This was the film that had me sit up and admire Mads as an actor with incredible gifts. I can’t say I “loved” the film and would watch it again, it is powerful for its content and message, but as you say, the performances make it a must-see. Nice review, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I was tempted to watch this, since I love the actor and it had good reviews, but I found the subject too harrowing. I find I’m more and more in need of being entertained, and never in the mood for dark or violent films. Also, I must say I find it incredible that parents let their kids act in this kind of film. How do you explain things to them?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I understand your reservations, Marina. But there is nothing really ‘nasty’ in this film other than the hatred shown by the adults. For once, it is about the effect on the accused rather than the victim, and refreshing in that respect. What the young actress playing Klara thought of her lines, I can only imagine.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

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