(an “anti-hunting” film review by Timothy J. Verret)
I tell you, God has the most excellent timing when it comes to the films He has me watch. Earlier this month, God had me watch THE DEER HUNTER (1978), though I’ve seen it before, for the message of those who once hunted animals haunted not to do this anymore when they have become the hunted (I wrote a God Sonnet, “The Hunted By The Haunted” (https://timothyjverret.blog/2020/12/04/the-hunted-by-the-haunted/, because of this realization). Once again, God had me watch THE HUNT (JAGTEN) (2013) for the same exact message. “Okay, God, I hear You and I thank You for the anti-hunting messages in BOTH of these films You had me watch so I can share this same message with others, especially hunters.”
THE HUNT (JAGTEN) is a Danish film about a kindergarten teacher named Lucas who is accused of child molestation. The beginning of the film opens like THE DEER HUNTER: Lucas is with his buddies hunting deer. The men are rowdy and drunk after the hunt, which always seems to go hand-in-hand with the act of hunting nonhuman animals. Is this because hunters need to get rowdy and drunk to escape their guilt of killing God’s Animals? I don’t know the answer to that question; I am purely speculating. And speculation is at the heart of THE HUNT (JAGTEN). Lucas befriends a very sensitive and “wildly imaginative” kindergarten female child named Klara. She takes an interest in Lucas because Lucas is very sensitive like her and he’s very sweet and very kind, and I’m sure the fact that he has a dog named Fanny only helps to establish this friendship. But Klara makes an accusation (speculation?) that Lucas showed his penis to her in school (Klara describes the penis as “a tall rod,” and we know as film viewers that Klara speculates about this because her brother and his friends were viewing a penis online and called it these same words). The film further goes the path of a man accused of something he did not do, a man hated by an entire small community because of what he did not do, and a man stripped of his once very sensitive, very sweet and very kind disposition to become very hurt and very maligned, i.e., very hunted. Lucas is played by Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen, and Mikkelsen’s performance is tensely mesmerizing and breathtakingly “haunted.” He bears a striking resemblance to American actor Christopher Walken, who ironically was in THE DEER HUNTER (see the above film poster photo of Mikkelsen’s face and compare it to Walken below):
See the resemblance, especially in the eyes? Their eyes are excruciatingly probing and as excruciatingly brilliant a performance as Walken gave in THE DEER HUNTER, so, too, does Mikkelsen give an excruciatingly brilliant performance in THE HUNT (JAGEN). The accusing (speculating?) Klara is played by Annika Wedderkopp. I would imagine director Thomas Vinterberg (Danish director of THE PARTY [FESTEN] , another remarkably and intensely engrossing film also dealing with child molestation) had quite a challenge on his hand trying to invoke a believable performance from Wedderkopp with this disturbing subject matter, but Wedderkopp delivers. She has an angelic face and an angelic innocence. We know she is not telling the truth about what Lucas did to her, but we struggle with what we know is true because she exudes truthfulness from her very child-core being. She pierces our soul with her innocence and further destroys the fabric of our innocence of believing Lucas while, at the same time, watching him fall apart. Many scenes in THE HUNT (JAGTEN) are difficult to sit through. In particular is the scene where Lucas is no longer welcome in the grocery store where he normally shops, for what grocery store can allow a sexually-perverted man to buy groceries so he can survive? This scene brought me to a place of horror, for what if I were accused of a heinous crime of this magnitude and yet I’ve not done this crime? What if the vivid imagination of a child I befriended because I’m very sensitive, very sweet and very kind started an accusation (speculation?) that ostracized me from the need to buy groceries so I can survive? This is indeed the horror of THE HUNT (JAGTEN), i.e., all it takes is one person’s speculating rumor of another to completely destroy another forever.
The last moments of THE HUNT (JAGTEN) is where God gave me the anti-hunting message. Lucas’ fate is decided at the end of the film (not desiring to give that away) and his son, Marcus, receives his hunting license and a rifle Lucas has bought him. Lucas is in the forest, probably tracking Marcus for his first kill of a deer, when a mysterious hunter (we never see the hunter’s face) shoots a rifle at Lucas. Lucas falls to the forest floor and when he looks up, the mysterious hunter is gone. Who was this mysterious hunter who shot at Lucas? Was it Marcus? Was it someone else who can’t forgive what Lucas never did and is still out to hunt him? Or did Lucas imagine this shot because now he will always know what it feels like to be hunted? Either way, might Lucas relay this anti-hunting message, as I am doing, to Marcus? Just me speculating 😉
JAGTEN (THE HUNT) is a film about the despairing depths we can all be forced to go when we have been falsely accused and truly destroyed. Mikkelsen gives us a paralyzing glimpse into a journey of real and true horror we can only pray we never have to take. This journey is who we once were becoming who we are no longer because we have been destroyed by just one accusation (speculation?) that is just one untruth that is just infinitely destructive. What we have here is a “Jesus Christ film,” i.e., Jesus, like Lucas, was falsely accused and hunted for something He did not do (interesting to note is that Jesus was very sensitive, very sweet and very kind like Lucas). A couple of days ago, I wrote a commentary on a painting I did about The Purposed Purple Cross of Jesus Christ (https://timothyjverret.blog/2020/12/28/hang-with-3-crosses-2-red-and-1-purple/). Lucas was put on a red cross in this painting and as I watched JAGTEN (THE HUNT), all I wanted to do was take Lucas off that red cross and put him on The Purposed Purple Cross, because Lucas, like Jesus, did NOTHING WRONG and was NOT GUILTY. Lucas didn’t deserve what horrors he had to go through in this film, and none of us deserve what we might have to go through if and when we are falsely accused of something we did not do.
It’s interesting to note that in Danish, “Jagten” means “The Hunt,” but in Swedish, the word, “jag” means “I.” It’s quite appropriate that THE HUNT (JAGTEN) can be suitably (and Swedishly) retitled, “I Once Hunted God’s Animals Until I Became The Hunted.”