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November 15, 2005

The Hunt, 1959

thehunt.gifFavorably recalling the experimental narrative strategies of Alain Robbe-Grillet, Erik Lochen's remarkably light and agile, yet ingeniously constructed and elegantly realized film, The Hunt similarly plays on the author's recurring themes of memory, atemporality, and psychological reality. Prefiguring Alain Resnais' collaborative film with Robbe-Grillet, Last Year at Marienbad (the film was made in the same year as Resnais' collaborative film with another nouvelle roman author, Marguerite Duras, Hiroshima mon amour), the film opens with a shot of a covered body on a gurney being loaded into the coroner's van accompanied by an off-screen narrator's explanation of what appears to have been a shooting accident during a hunting trip. The fourth wall is broken, and the film proceeds in flashback as the narrator begins to interrogate each hunter on the circumstances surrounding the incident - a beautiful woman named Guri (Benedikte Liseth), her husband Bjørn (Rolf Søder), and her spurned (or perhaps, current) lover, Bjørn's best friend, Knut (Tor Stokk) - filling in the details of their complicated shared history in alternating narrative turns, the reality of the nature of their shared intimacy tempered by individual perception (or perhaps, by a sense of guilt or complicity in the tragedy) and fractured by the altered perspective that invariably comes with each change of speaker. The inscrutable trio's informal testimonies begin to organically diverge, veer off in stream-of-consciousness tangents, be willfully suppressed, entangled in fanciful imagination, or become occluded in the haze of imperfect memory and subsumed desire, collapsing the planes of memory and imagination to a singularity where truth becomes malleable, and reality itself becomes as ephemeral as a waking dream.

Posted by acquarello on Nov 15, 2005 | | Filed under 2005, Norwegian Cinema


I haven't seen the film, or heard of it before now, but it sounds like Rashomon crossed with the hunting scene in Rules of the Game. Does it compare at all with those two films?

Posted by: Pacze Moj on Nov 30, 2005 10:50 PM | Permalink

Hmm...I'd say that for Rules of the Game, it's similar in that the hunt is essentially a ruse to get together. It does have a similar clinical approach to the shooting of animals, which adds a certain ritualism to their actions, like in Rules.

Rashomon is a little trickier because in the Kurosawa film, you essentially get the four versions of the story sequentially: story version 1, from beginning to end, then story version 2 from beginning to end... In The Hunt, the story is only told once, but the point of view keeps changing. So basically, it goes something like: character A tells part of the story, then character B continues the story, sometimes contradicting aspects of A's version. Then character C continues the story and somewhat contradicts A's and/or B's versions, then B continues the story... So while the end result is similar in terms of the "unknowability" of absolute truth, the structure is more complex I think.

The closest example that I can think of is Last Year at Marienbad in the sense that X is constantly contradicting himself, even in the most minute details, to the point where the audience no longer knows what is real and what is construction.

Posted by: acquarello on Dec 01, 2005 9:29 AM | Permalink

I have been looking to buy this film "The Hunt". Is it available on DVD yet and if so from where.

Posted by: Terry Comino on Jan 06, 2006 10:17 PM | Permalink

As far as I know, the film isn't available on home video in any format. The film screened as part of the Norwegian Cinema series at Walter Reade.

Posted by: acquarello on Jan 07, 2006 12:32 AM | Permalink

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