Tuesday, July 30, 2013

"The Hunt": a male teacher is unable to fend off "accusations" made by a child

I went to see the Danish film “The Hunt” (“Jagten”, directed by Thomas Vinterberg) out of a sense of follow-up to my own period as a substitute teacher in northern Virginia a few years ago.

I remember in that job being sent to special education assignments, even though that was not on my profile, and being very surprised that the intimacy that could be expected (even in high school, with severely disabled students).  Once I was asked if I would be OK with “helping the kids in the locker roojm and manning the deep end of the swimming pool.” No, that was not OK. I was rather surprised on an early “extended day” when a six-year old girl asked if I could tie her shoes,

This can get dangerous, as this movie shows.  Mads Mikkelsen plays Lucas, a 40 year old divorced father trying to get to see his son Marcus (Lasse Folgelstrom) more often, and having been laid off from a regular teaching job a while back.  But he has gotten a new job at a grade school and kindergarten, and in the movie’s earliest scenes, even he is surprised at the “help” some kids need, even in the bathroom.

The film’s first scene establishes Lucas’s basic social popularity, when he dives into cold water clothed to help another man in an outdoor swim deal with a cramp. 

Twenty minutes into the film, the principal Greta (Susse W old) calls him into the office for an informal conversation.  She can’t be specific, but a little girl has told someone that Lucas has behaved inappropriately.  The specific language is graphic. 

Things spiral out of control quickly. School staff and parents assume that kids, particularly this little gril, never lie about something like this.  (How could a little girl know about some things?)  They turn on him quickly, with a savage social witch-hunt.  He isn’t allowed in the supermarket, and neither is his son.

I won’t explain the metaphor of the title here, other than to say that the son Marcus will get a rifle and go on an autumn hunt as a rite of male passage, which fits into the denouement.  I’m not sure that the ending convinces me.

I saw this at Landmark’s Bethesda Row Theater in Maryland, the only theater in the DC area showing it the first week.  There was a fair crowd for a Monday night.

The official site from Magnolia Pictures is here

Magnolia lately has distributed “controversial” foreign films. 

Some of the outdoor scenes were filmed in Poland. 

My own experience with the "special ed" issue as a sub is on my main"BillBoushka" blog July 25, 2007.

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