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....and "Gloria" (1980) and "Leon" as well...Charles Crichton,whose career spans the second half of the century ("a fish named Wanda"!),is definitely a director to upgrade.
"Hunted" is a small gem ,a suspenseful sensitive story which casts Bogarde as an unlucky murderer on the lam and young John Whiteley as a moving kid.A road movie,from the bleak city to the wild moors of Scotland ,where a special chemistry between the man and the boy literally grows on the audience .
Spoilers.Spoilers. Like all the great storytellers ,Crichton introduces first Bogarde as the "villain " who abducts a cute brat.But further acquaintance shows this:actually both of them are victims of a society that increases the prestige of money ,of Bogarde's boss who sleeps with his wife ,a society that does not care a little bit about its orphans whom it leaves to hateful "parents" .The boy really acts as if he's got nothing to lose.
Admirable sequence :In a bedroom they share for one night,Bogarde begins a bedtime story for his protégé:it's a fairy tale ,a story of a giant.But little by little ,the story becomes HIS own story :what a smart way of letting us know about the hero's past!During this sequence ,which takes place halfway through the film,we see the boy SMILE for the first time.His face is so beaming we are on the verge of tears .He will laugh later ,in his pal's mean brother's house ,during the meal.When Bogarde sails away with his "hostage" ,he makes the story he told come true . End of spoilers .end of spoilers
Bogarde's rendering is a real tour de force and many consider this part
his first important one:tense,distraught,anguished,he runs the whole gamut of emotions.Matching him every step of the way is Whiteley's performance :in the three examples I mention at the beginning of my comment ,which I admire (with the exception of Besson's) ,the young actors cannot hold a candle to him.Instant karma:he won a special AA the following year,and was given the main part in Lang's "Moonfleet" in 1954.He was to meet again Bogarde in "Spanish gardener".
Crichton had often been labeled "for the whole family".But they totally missed the point:"hunted" is not a rosy work,its open ending does not settle the things ,but increases our fear of what will become of our two so endearing heroes.His directing is now nervous -the first sequences when the heroes do not stop running -,now intimate -all the scenes where the two characters hang on to each other,now poetic -the seagulls which accompany the triumphant voyage .A wonderful use of nature (not unlike Charles Laughton's "the night of the hunter") and its wildlife where the runaways take refuge.
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