The Hunt Review

The Film

Our betters in Blighty have recently decided what's best for us all in order to call our dreadful journalists to heel. Said journos are trying to defend themselves using arguments about a free press, paying no heed to why all of this hoo-ha boiled up into a problem anyway. Well, just to remind you all, newspapers hacked celebrities on an industrial level, and appointed themselves our moral guardians in the "public interest" as they periodically chase, demean and destroy one of our powerless kind - Chris Jefferies, The McCanns et al.imageYet, in both the cases I mention, large percentages of the public applauded the moral leadership of the newspapers. We wolfed down the news print and defended the fair comment as journalists replaced proper criminal investigation, legal process and human rights with their profit motive. I say this because for the chilling effect of calumny, misrepresentation and ill-founded gossip to find their target, each one of us must fill our role as good citizens, neglecting our civil and moral duties, tutting from a distance, and generally doing nothing to stop the media bullies.

The social mechanics of this kind of hysteria are forensically laid bare in Thomas Vinterberg's The Hunt. Beginning with the rituals of a small town and its annual hunt, which accepts male youths into full adulthood, we meet school teacher Lucas as he communes with friends, recovers from his divorce and carries out a job he loves. This compassionate decent man is even there for the young daughter of his best friend as she gets lost, and needs someone to take her to school. She mistakes his care for affection, and so begins a domino effect of prejudice, mob behaviour and justified evils.imageFrom decent guardian of the youth of tomorrow to serial paedophile, Lucas finds himself prosecuted by public opinion, a public unwilling to deal with the accusations properly, all to ready to lead children to the evil they fear whether it exists or not. Job, lover, family all disappear and soon his friends are gone and any part in the community he takes brings violence, rained down from a place of entitlement.

Celebrating the acceptance, the culture and the landscape first leads to Lucas's experience being all the more bleak as each of these gifts are taken from him. The portrayal of a community closing ranks and the development of a group mentality that interprets anything as a threat to decency is chilling, if melodramatic. Yet what can a film like this be called, other than a melodrama.imageVinterberg never allows the tone to become exploitative, and Mikkelsen's performance is pitch perfect, avoiding histrionics and evincing quiet, decent bravery. The chief failings in films of this type are usually either the characterisation or performances of children, yet The Hunt has extremely high standards in both with the principal child Klara, Annika Wedderkopp, convincing yet surprisingly subtle.

One of the best films of 2012, and more proof, it was needed, of the current Danish emergence in both cinema and TV. The Hunt is gruelling, intelligent and a tale for our confusing times.

The Disc

Arrow's treatment of The Hunt is slightly disappointing, coming with few extras and an interlaced (1080I) transfer. Looking at the specs for how the film was shot and mastered, I am surprised that it's offered here in the 1080I format given it seems to have been shot in 2K and 1080P. The interlacing is fairly pronounced when you crawl through frame by frame, although when I took in the movie on a bigger screen set up for 1080P it looked very presentable. Given the amount of close-ups, detail is pretty important and well shown on the disc, although the wider shots of the countryside are less impressive than you could hope for. The transfer has a muted, autumnal feel which seems appropriate given the seasonal nature of the movie and there is little to complain about in terms of filtering or edge enhancement. Still, I tend not to score 1080I transfers highly as they are far from desirable given the capacities of HD.imageHappily, the film comes with two lossless options, a stereo LPCM track and its counterpart in master audio 5.1. I watched the film using the latter mix and enjoyed a nice coverage of the speakers with some mixing of effects and voices in the rears but mostly a goodish representation of the environments of the film. The English subs are very good, failing to jar in terms of grammar or spelling.

This region free disc came with HD trailers and no other extras, interestingly the trailer for the main feature is 1080P.


Not full HD but still a great film with good sound options and few extras.

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