JAGTEN [THE HUNT] (2012)

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ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATION:

  • Best Foreign Language Film

Elizabeth

I chose the above picture for our post on The Hunt because it represents how I felt after watching this movie. Upset and beat up.

I didn’t think The Hunt was going to be that hard to watch. It’s about Lucas (Mads Mikkelsen), a kindergarten teacher, who is falsely accused of child molestation. The film is smart about this; it shows us everything that happens, so we know that Lucas is innocent. We see why Klara (Annika Wedderkopp) says what she says: Lucas is her father’s best friend and she has a bit of a crush on him. She overhears her teenage brother and his friends talking about erect penises (they even show her a picture) while watching porn. Klara makes Lucas a heart and kisses him on the lips, which right away makes Lucas take her aside and suggest that she give the heart that she made to her mom and that she shouldn’t kiss anyone on the lips except her parents. Obviously embarrassed and upset, Klara then tells the principal, Grethe (Susse Wold) that she doesn’t like Lucas, and that he’s ugly and has a penis. She says it sticks up like a rod, which is exactly what she overheard her brother saying. So, as an audience, we never have to be scared that our protagonist actually is a child molester, which I thought was smart.

So because our good guy is a good guy, and therefore no kids really get abused, I thought The Hunt would be more mild. But it is so hard to watch. First of all, for me personally, it was really hard because Klara reminded me so much of my niece. Klara was probably around 5, and my niece is 4. And even though Klara wasn’t sexually abused, things are not easy for her. She almost immediately takes back what she says about Lucas, saying she was being stupid. But none of the adults believe her, assuming she’s so traumatized that it’s making her say it didn’t happen. Klara obviously feels guilty, but also really doesn’t understand what’s going on, and it was hard seeing her so upset. In one scene that just made me start crying, Klara walks to Lucas’ house and asks if she can walk Fanny, Lucas’ dog, whom Klara loves. Lucas tells her she shouldn’t be there without her parents’ permission, and she starts crying and telling Lucas that she made a mistake, she didn’t mean to get him in trouble, and that she’s scared. IT WAS SO HARD TO WATCH. This poor girl, whom everyone believed when she told a lie and then no one believed when she told the truth, is just so upset.

What also makes this so hard to watch is how everyone turns on Lucas for no reason. I don’t even like saying that Klara told a lie because Klara never says that Lucas touched her, or made her touch him. All she really says is that he has a penis. Beyond that, anything else she says only comes from continual prodding by adults who are clearly already convinced Lucas is guilty. But why? Lucas has obviously been a teacher for a long time, and he’s good at it and the kids love him. He has a son whom he loves and has never abused. But once Klara says a few sentences, everything everyone knows about Lucas suddenly doesn’t matter at all. Which is scary. Kids say weird/wrong things all the time. Like how my niece’s dad explained, after being asked, to my niece as best he could about how digestion works, and all my niece took from that conversation is that “Pancakes make you poop,” after he used the example of eating pancakes and then eventually you go to the bathroom. My niece’s dad never actually said “Pancakes make you poop,” but that’s what she took from it and that’s what she told everyone else. So when Klara says that Lucas has a penis and that it sticks up like a rod, which is obviously a bizarre thing to say, no one looks into it, no one wonders if maybe Klara is repeating something she heard, or anything. And this is after Grethe acknowledges that Klara has a vivid imagination, and after Klara repeatedly tries to take back what she said. It’s a scary thing, because no one wants to not believe a victim of sexual abuse. But, that doesn’t mean everything has to be taken at face value.

The Hunt is also difficult because there’s a lot of animal deaths; there’s a few hunting scenes, and eventually some unknown people kill Fanny, which was my biggest fear for the whole movie. You don’t see her get killed, but you see Lucas and his son, Marcus (Lasse Fogelstrøm), react to finding her. And you also see Lucas bury Fanny in his yard, crying in the rain. FUCKING. KILL ME.

In the end, the charges against Lucas are dropped. Before that, other children start saying he touched them, too, and make up elaborate details about where the abuse took place, Lucas’ basement. But when the police come and find that Lucas doesn’t even have a basement, it’s clear that the kids are just making shit up. So, while I’m glad our protagonist didn’t end up in prison for life, I still wouldn’t say the movie has a “happy” ending.

All in all, The Hunt sort of reminded me of Dancer in the Dark: the whole time I was watching it, I wanted it to be over, and I think it was very well-made and well-acted, but after watching it I just wanted to kill myself and I never want to see it again. Would I recommend this? I mean . . . it’s very good, but very difficult. And probably not the best choice for parents; even though nothing really bad happens to kids, seeing Klara try to deal with the whole situation was really tough for me to watch and I don’t even have kids. So maybe just watch with caution.

Christopher

This is one of the scariest, most frustrating movies I have ever seen. It’s all about a man who is falsely accused of being a pedophile and even when the little girl takes it back, no one believes her. It’s so awful. This move was kind of broken down into parts. The second half of the film had a different feel to it to me than the first and I think that saved it for me. As a whole this is a good movie but the first half, seeing everything go down, not in our protagonists favor, felt, at times, like watching Blackfish. It was just so hard for me to watch I couldn’t really sit still, I had to go to my desk and paint for a while. But the second half is interesting to me, the main character changes for a while, and then you get to see how something like this could be forgiven, kind of. This movie is crazy and I would never recommend it to anyone just because it was so difficult for me to get through but if you are interested, watch it because it is a good movie.

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