A few days ago, to get us in the mood for our trip, we watched the 2011 movie The Hunter. William Dafoe gets top billing, but the Tasmanian landscape is the star of the show. This is our most in-depth exposure so far to the island we will visit for a month, and it lives up to expectations. Remote and rugged wilderness is the order of the day, a sparsely populated landscape of desolate grandeur that looks well worth the visit … though not without decent rainwear and stout shoes.
Having said all that, the plot is contrived. Sure there are folk who believe the Tasmanian Tiger is still alive, out there in the vast wastelands thumbing its nose at a society that, conventional wisdom tells us, drove it to extinction some 80 years ago. I desperately want to believe it too, but I can’t quite make that leap of faith. But it’s even more difficult to believe in a shadowy and powerful multi-national biotech company hiring hunters to find the last surviving tiger and kill it for the inadequately explained and frankly implausible commercial opportunities inherent in its DNA. I think not.
And, ultimately, for someone who believes mankind must live in harmony with nature, respecting rather than destroying it, this is a film that depresses more than it impresses. Its conclusion appears to be that from here on in things can only get worse.
As an insight into the greed and lawlessness of the global economy and faceless men who control it, the Hunter works to a degree but lacks subtlety. As entertainment it just doesn’t cut it for me: even though Dafoe puts in a decent performance, the cinematography is excellent and the Tasmanian landscapes are revealed in all their glory, I find little pleasure in a movie that offers me no hope, in a world in which good guys win only pyrrhic victories and the bad guys win the wars.
Given that I’m about to visit the land in which it was filmed I’m truly glad that I watched the Hunter last week. I won’t ever watch it again.