Here is Andrew’s explanation of the blog-a-thon: Motifs in Cinema is a discourse across film blogs, assessing the way in which various thematic elements have been used in the 2013 cinematic landscape. How does a common theme vary in use from a comedy to a drama? Are filmmakers working from a similar canvas when they assess the issue of death or the dynamics of revenge? Like most things, a film begins with an idea – Motifs in Cinema assesses how various themes emanating from a single idea change when utilized by varying artists.
In a number of films released across the globe in 2013, one of the central conflicts was that of man (and woman) in conflict (repressed, prejudiced or outcast) against society at large. In several of the examples I will offer the society in question is insular and isolated, sent into turmoil following the repercussions of an event, while others are ideologically, culturally and politically tied to the country of setting.
In Danish writer/director Thomas Vinterberg's haunting drama, The Hunt, Mads Mikkelsen (awarded Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival), stars as Lucas, a popular small town Kindergarten teacher. When Klara (Annika Wedderkopp), the young daughter of his best friend Theo (Thomas Bo Larsen), tells a story detailing inappropriate sexual contact from Lucas, it’s severity quickly escalates. The adults, informed of the claims by the school's principal despite there yet being no proof beyond Klara's account, are blinded by rage and disgust, turn against Lucas and begin a campaign to ensure that justice is served, targeting not only his professional career and personal reputation, but also his family. Lucas is wrongfully accused, there’s no doubt about it, but when more stories of abuse surface - the result of insular paranoia and guardian-coerced testimony - the mounting lies spiral out of control to the point where the life of this innocent man faces ruin. He shelters from the tide of hatred, enclosed within his own home. But even that comes under threat. The courage he shows just stepping into the local mall or confronting his accusers in church, is extraordinary. This tense study of an insular community unnervingly embroiled in hysteria and turmoil is maddening to watch as blind social allegiance acting on unreasonable instinct demonizes a once-valued citizen.
In Paul Wright’s brilliant debut feature, For Those In Peril, Aaron (George MacKay), a young misfit living in a remote Scottish fishing community, is the lone survivor of a mysterious fishing accident that claimed the lives of five men including his older brother, Michael. With ocean folklore a powerful (and misguided) influence the village holds Aaron responsible for the tragedy, and he immediately finds himself an outcast. Struggling with his own demons, unable to remember what happened out on the water, he refuses to believe that his brother has died and holds misguided hope in his return. Though he briefly finds comfort in spending time with his brother’s former girlfriend, his worsening anxieties eventually bring him in confrontation with his darkest fears.
Aaron is at the centre of For Those in Peril from the beginning, and while the film is set up to be about a young man dealing with grief and guilt, and coming to the demoralizing realization that by being alive draws malevolence from others, it then becomes something very different. We come to understand just how essential Aaron’s perception is as the story seamlessly shifts into his headspace. Wright utilises various visual formats and discordant audio soundbites, challenging his audience to draw their own conclusions from his unconventional techniques. We are offered fragments of the past from various perspectives and the present from a very unreliable narrator. Aaron’s confusion, frustration, and unwavering sense of hope is certainly understandable considering his ordeal, yet no one in the town seems to accept that he belonged on the boat in the first place nor deserved to return. Why is that? He escaped a meeting with a monster but will never rest until he confronts it and re-earns the respect of the society he once called home.