When a man in a small village is accused of an unspeakable act, the collective hysteria of the community threatens to destroy his life in Thomas Vinterberg’s hard-hitting Danish film The Hunt.
The story centres on a kindergarten teacher named Lucas (portrayed by the superb Mads Mikkelsen), a beloved and respected member of his community. Early on in the film, we see an innocent relationship coalesce between him and a six-year-old girl, but when she develops an unrequited crush on him, a misjudged remark quickly spirals into something terrifyingly false.
Drawing comparison to Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, Vinterberg’s film examines the powers of false accusation, and the lengths a person is forced to go to in order to preserve their innocence.
Beautifully photographed and scripted, The Hunt is a hauntingly realistic representation of the mass hysteria that can unify a community in its condemnation of the innocent.
The burden of proof lies with the accuser, not the accused. We are all innocent until proven guilty. In theory, it is an air-tight rationale. In practice, however, results can vary.
Vinterberg’s film is a harsh but timely reminder of this.
by Sebastian Moore
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