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.