Martin has a decision to make; allow for the loss of lives over an indefinite period of time due to his inaction, or the loss of a single life wherein Martin will be pulling the trigger. The details; should Martin allow for the on-going deaths of humans, some of which he has grown an attachment to, some who are children, all of whom are innocent, or, should he kill the last surviving Tasmanian tiger, who, for all we know, has suffered the loss of all companions in the world.
The decision seems obliquely obvious; kill the damned tiger, people have died, people will die, all because of a classic mean-capitalist intention. In the narrative of The Hunter, the destruction of the environment is too far gone. Martin is in Tasmania, under the guise of an academic researcher, to hunt down the last remaining Tasmanian tiger for its unique venom, which he will be paid handsomely by his employers for. Along the way, Martin discovers that the hunt for the animal is a covert industrial war-ground; rival arms industries lust for the venom for replication, sending man after man to their death out in the wilds of Tasmania, usually at the hands of each other, ironically considering the underlying assertions that the environment is the main danger. While this battle is waged, an overt struggle continues in the human world; unemployed loggers engage in aggressive tensions with the environmental groups who are intent on keeping the wilderness untouched. Few are aware of the hunt for the Tasmanian tiger, but a few key figures are, and have been involved in the shady business. There is a strange feeling that the hunt underpins the issues faced by the entire community, thus lending more to the feeling that the animal must die.
When Dafoe finally lures the animal within his range, and slays it, it is not for the initial reason; he completely destroys the body, and informs his employers that there is no longer a Tasmanian tiger left to hunt. The Tasmanian tiger’s body, in this film, is not a cherished or sad image, a reflection of humanity’s impact on benign creatures across the globe; the Tasmanian tiger’s body is a product, which Martin renders useless.
If we are to see the Tasmanian tiger as a poignant and pitiable creature, then its death is somewhat of a mercy. Its life is alone in the alien landscape of the Tasmanian bush, lured to a hunter with old meat, showing perhaps that its life was an ending struggle. It’s loneliness is accentuated by the tight communities that humans have formed on the cusp of its environment; on a larger scale, the hippy group are welcoming and caring, and even the loggers have each other, and a hub, the bar, a constant and reassuring meeting point. On a smaller scale, the family Martin stays with are obviously warmer than he’s apparently used to, and even Jack, who seems to exist alone, has obvious and full interactions with various groups. The Tasmanian tiger is alone, scared, dying. It’s death allows for the continuation of the various human communities. However, if the body-as-product were to be used for its saught after purpose, then lives would still be lost due to the fabrication of whatever weapon Martin’s employers deigned to create. With this product uselessed, future deaths are negated. Martin pulls the trigger.
referenced: The Hunter, 2011, dir. Dan Nettheim