The Hunt (Jagten) is an important film, one that everyone in the world should see. It shows how mob mentality can rule when someone has been falsely accused.
It’s a Thomas Vinterburg film: one of Denmark’s best directors, Vinterburg, along with Lars von Trier, started the interesting, if pretentious, Dogme 95 movement. The films that came out of Dogme 95 weren’t great, but it lasted a short period and both Winterburg and von Trier have since broken all of their own rules. Ironically probably the best film to come out of it Julien Donkey-Boy broke many of it’s rules and was American.
It stars Mads Mikkelson, a great Danish actor who has usually been wasted in his occasional roles in American films. In the role of Lucas, a recently divorced kindergarten teacher in a small town who is trying to get his son returned to his custody. He has recently started a relationship with a co-worker, but his life is turned upside down when the daughter of his best friend, who has an unrequited crush on him, accuses him of exposing himself to her. As events escalate, more accusations follow and Lucas loses his job, his closest friends, basically everything.
Having previously appeared in Nicolas Winding Refn’s Danish films, Mikkelson gives an extraordinary performance. His facial expressions communicate as much as his words. The film gives a strong condemnation of today’s world where people can so easily be condemned without ever having a chance to give their side of the story.
Vinterburg hasn’t gone out of his way to make a flashy film—it’s well shot, of course, but it’s a character piece and that’s where the focus lies.
Whether online or in person, too many people are quick to believe rumours without evidence, especially where children are concerned. It is of course important to believe children who come forward with stories about abuse, but sometimes children are too young to understand the context of what they have seen or can be easily led by adults. In the film, while Lucas is innocent, he ends up being the victim of physical attacks and other violent behaviour as the mob mentality takes over.
Arrow released The Hunt theatrically and on Blu-Ray without the special features, but this version restores what was available on most other editions. The disc includes an alternative ending, but it was over the top so it’s good that it wasn’t used. The ending may be the film’s one false step but I do prefer the one in the finished film. Some more outtakes and deleted scenes plus a making-of featurette are included.