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Your Daughter’s a Liar or Your Best Friend’s a Pervert: Most Enthralling Story Conflicts 2 – The Hunt

 

The Hunt-Jagten-Mads Mikkelsen

Mads Mikkselsen stars as Lucas, a role that won him the Best Actor award at Cannes this year. Image via phdacademy.org.


Since there is no story without a conflict, I started an article series on my favorite conflicts. The more you can raise the stakes, the more you can involve and intrigue your audience. So I’m not going to involve simple situations where the decision won’t scar anyone horribly, whether literally or physically (or both.)

The first article covered The Ledge’s story, a movie where the protagonist was forced to choose between his own life and his lover’s.

The second one is about the premise of a Danish movie I’m dying to see. Jagten (The Hunt) presents one of the most difficult choices one needs to make- and the wrong one will destroy the other party.

Conflict: Your little daughter told her female teacher that she was abused by her male teacher (the protagonist). The teacher, Lucas (Mads Mikkelsen), is your best friend. The girl never lied before. Lucas is one of the nicest guys you know.

Door Number 1: Your daughter is telling the truth, and your best friend is a pervert. You can’t believe you have loved and trusted him for so long. You can’t wait to make him pay.

Door Number 2: Your very young daughter told a very disturbing lie, and started the destruction of Lucas’s life and career. He may not recover from this.

While we won’t know for sure that Lucas is innocent until we see the movie, the trailer sure suggests it. It also tells us which door the guy chooses: he chooses to believe his daughter and things get very complicated and dangerous after that.

As far as conflicts go, this just might be the mother of all. In the end, only one person is innocent, and you are going to have to live with yourself afterwards. Of course the person that will get hurt the most is the person you chose not to believe.

I don’t know where writer/director Thomas Vinterberg got the inspiration from, but it is one hell of a conflict.

* Just because you’ve known your friend for decades may not mean he is not keeping things from you.

* But just because you think your daughter doesn’t lie, it doesn’t mean she doesn’t. Sometimes kids can go to disturbing lengths for the most trivial reasons.

What would you do? Who would you trust?

How do you feel about this conflict as a writer?

 

P.S. I’d love comments, but please don’t give any spoilers if you have seen The Hunt.

 

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4 Responses to “Your Daughter’s a Liar or Your Best Friend’s a Pervert: Most Enthralling Story Conflicts 2 – The Hunt”

  • Richard Stephens says:

    Just discovered your blog and must thank you for the useful input.
    As a budding scriptwriter, I find that one of my most difficult problems is finding compelling conflicts. Interesting plots come to me but then making the conflicts really compelling are hard work. Your comments and movie suggestions have been really helpful to me.
    Thank you.

  • Glenn says:

    While the conflict on the surface appears to be is your friend a pervert or your daughter a liar, what really makes a conflict powerful is ‘what is at stake?’. In this conflict what is at stake is either not protecting your daughter or responding to a threat in her life — or the destruction of your best friend’s career and very likely his personal life as well.

    But wait, there is more. If true, your daughter has already been hurt — you failed already (pressure to act)

    So, there are depths and levels to this conflict which is what makes it squirm into our spines — especially a parent.

    To see that the driving force is not the surface actions, just replace the daughter with CeeLo Green and the friend with George Bush Jr. — now.. do you really feel the same conflict? No, it isn’t personal, you have nothing at stake, and CeeLo Green is not protected by your love, nor depending on your protection.

    Any conflict can be turned up a tension notch by adding a strong emotional injury to the protagonist, which occurs as soon as the conflict is revealed.

    Great article. Thanks for posting it and listening to my babble.

    • Pinar Tarhan says:

      Hi Glenn,
      Great to have you on the blog. I welcome all relevant babbling:)
      I loved the movie, and it did send chills down my spine. Good Danish directors have a way of making dramas that feel like thrillers, so you’re not only emotionally drained, but glued to your seat as well. Even if the viewers aren’t parents, they know a lot of parents. They deal with children. It’s easy to imagine yourself in the shoes of the accused and the parent. That said, the adults here dealt with the situation horribly. I guess ignorant small towns will be ignorant small towns anywhere in the world. Not saying all small towns are ignorant, but there are quite a few…

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