How am I supposed to chase a Danish girl

Thomas Vinterberg's film "The Hunt" : The abuse thing

In the middle of the birthday party, the son reveals that the father has abused his children. The festival as a beacon, crime scene family: While the life lies of the middle-class society unfold their poisonous effect, the repressed breaks its way, also with violence. It was a shock 15 years ago. Long before the abuse debates, which have recently shaken not only the Federal Republic of Germany, “Das Fest” by Thomas Vinterberg, the first Danish dogma film, was released.

Away with the illusions, out with the truth. This is what it was all about when Vinterberg, Lars von Trier and two other Danes adopted their dogma manifesto on the 100th anniversary of the cinema. They sent the film to the school of realism, similar to the Nouvelle Vague in France or the signatories of the Oberhausen Manifesto in Germany. Only original locations, original sound, original light and handheld camera were allowed, celebrity cult was considered frowned upon, the name of the director did not appear in the opening and closing credits. That was also a healing shock, a rejuvenation treatment for the aging European auteur film. With directors like von Trier and Susanne Bier, she has secured Denmark a place in the list of small, exciting film art countries that have won festival prizes and Oscars. In any case, “Das Fest” from 1997 caused a double sensation: the force of the subject was joined by the relentlessly direct narrative style.

Does “Die Jagd” come with shock number three? After the victim tragedy about trauma and repression - and some hapless, partly international productions ("It's all about Love", "Dear Wendy", "Submarino") - the 43-year-old director has returned to Danish cinema. In his seventh film, he shows the other side of the coin: the hatred and the hunt for an unjustly suspected perpetrator. Not in compliance with the dogma commandments (for example weapons are in the game, which the manifesto does not allow), but with great realism. A child psychologist had given Vinterberg minutes of such cases after “Das Fest”, which Vinterberg only read ten years later. In 2012 “The Hunt” premiered in Cannes.

Lucas (Mads Mikkelsen) works as a kindergarten teacher in a small town. A friendly, attentive educator, divorced, he fights for the right to visit his young son. Little Klara (Annika Wedderkopp), daughter of his best friend Theo (Thomas Bo Larsen), clings to him, she too is a lonely human child, because her parents are very busy at work. Lucas carefully puts them in their place, evidently he knows exactly how quickly the suspicion of pederasty can fall on male educators. The offended girl wants revenge and tells the head of the kindergarten that Lucas showed her his penis. Ever since she watched the brother and his buddies watch porn, she vaguely knew this was bad. The worried manager calls in a psychologist, who asks Klara and completely misinterprets her uncertainty.

Rumors make the rounds, fears turn into panic, into hysteria. Lucas is arrested, released, and henceforth ostracized by the liberal small-town society. On Christmas Eve he sits in the church, full of tears, all alone in a conspiratorial, politically and pedagogically correct community. An outcast, a victim of vigilante justice, the poison of suspicion corrodes his life. It destroys his professional existence, his friendships, the looming new love for the temporary teacher. Even his son doesn't know if he can still stand by him. The following autumn, Lucas goes hunting again with his old friends, but it's far from over ...

A genre film about a witch hunt, with Denmark's world star Mads Mikkelsen in the lead role of the innocently persecuted educator. Vinterberg cleverly plays with the image of Mikkelsen, who has made a career as an action actor and bad guy; he will soon play the monstrous serial killer Hannibal Lecter for American television. At the same time, he is repeatedly voted the sexiest man alive in his home country. In “Die Jagd” he appears as a sympathetic, sympathetic softie, who is nonetheless endowed with virile attributes, knows how to handle the hunting rifle and can easily keep up with drinking schnapps. A guy with a face like that could be a great teacher if everyone didn't immediately suspect him to be a child molester - that's the logic of this dazzling character drawing.

But the longer the fate takes its course, the more the audience becomes uncomfortable. The mixture of genre format and documentary immediacy in dogma style charges the highly sensitive subject with gimmicky effects and makes the behavior of educators, parents and psychologists appear increasingly implausible. Yes, children don't lie. But anyone who knows her - which is usually the case with educators - also knows her fantasy world, her weaknesses, her motivations, for example Klara's family situation and her need for attention. Child psychologists, on the other hand, put the truth together like a puzzle, let the children who may be affected play or paint and do not just ask suggestive questions like the psychologist in the film.

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