I don’t even know where to begin. Simply put, no film has shaken me like the Danish film The Hunt. I never want to watch the film again. Ever.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to say that the film by a director I’ve never heard of (Thomas Vinterberg) is bad – it’s not. It is a sublime and extraordinary film. But it is also a very difficult film to watch. The Hunt is a terrifying, harrowing, touching and disturbing movie (let me just add that this isn’t a horror flick). I kept pausing it to catch my breath and to take in what I have just seen in.
The Bond villain from Casino Royale, aka Lucas in this film, aka Mads Mikkelsen in real life (the man’s name is Mads – how cool is that?) is a nursery school teacher who is accused of molesting his best friend’s daughter.
What makes this film stand out to others, like the equally difficult to watch The Woodsman, is that these accusations are false. The way these lies take on a life of themselves violently shook me to my soul.
My first reaction was to blame the child for telling the tales, but I’m not sure all of the responsibility should lay on her shoulders. I am convinced that the well meaning adults around the ‘victim’ encouraged her to lie. And to watch a man’s life get torn to pieces unfairly is… scary.
As a father, if anyone told me that they suspect my daughter had been sexually abused I’d be devastated. I would probably feel like I had failed her in some way. So the reaction by the adults to the confused and angry words of Klara (played by the ridiculously talented Annika Wedderkopp) is understandable and would probably be my reaction – even after watching this film.
There are probably more cases such as the one depicted in The Hunt where the child IS telling the truth and the close family friend HAS abused her.
But the way the accusations about Lucas solidify is simply scary because they ring true. What happens in the film could happen to anyone who comes into frequent contact with kids. It could happen to me – and once the genie is out of the lamp, once you are labelled as a paedophile, it is hard to get that blue bastard back.
The overriding question I have at the end of this film is, can anything be done about this? As a society, we are rightly disgusted by child abuse and it is only human nature to believe a child in such cases.
If my little girl told me the same thing Klara told her parents (and it was a lie), I’d believe her. I’d tell my neighbours and everyone at the school. I wouldn’t even stop to think about the police procedure or anything. And that, again, is scary to think about.
People will continue to falsely accuse others, people’s lives will be ruined and there isn’t a damn thing we can do about it.
I guess that is one of the unspoken prices for keeping our children safe.