**Discussing an end scene spoilers below**
At first, and as the film gets going, the plot for The Hunter can seem a bit dry. Martin is a lonely and independent hunter sent to the Tasmanian wilderness to find the very last Tasmanian tiger to gather it’s DNA samples. The film does have a slow pace. It becomes more of a character study as we see Martin, played by Willem Dafoe, become close to and bonds with his host family. This is something foreign to him since he is so used to being alone and on his own.
The ending scene is what really brings this film home. Martin David has been hunting in the wilderness for days. Sleeping in a cave, he awakens to find the tiger staring at him. Martin follows him out, in shots with a lovely contrast of dark colors in his clothing and surrounding wildlife, while the tiger is surrounded in bright white snow. Martin shoots the tiger.
Willem Dafoe gives a wonderful performance and brings this scene home while crying over the tiger. Martin feels remorse for killing the beautiful tiger, for it was the last of it’s kind and a beautiful animal. But he will not bring the animal to the company, for he has learned that they killed the father, mother, and child of his host family, and the hunter before him in search for this tiger. They wanted the tiger so badly they would stop at nothing to get it. The search for the tiger was wreaking a trail of destruction. Martin saves the tiger from being hunted it’s entire life, for no one would ever let it live in peace. He is putting the animal out of it’s miserable loneliness for being the last of it’s kind.
Martin David slowly carries the animal as it fades to white. The next shot he burns the tiger and spreads it’s ashes over the beautiful Australian outback (set to a gorgeous score, very reminiscent of Heat’s song “God Moving Over the Face of the Waters”.)
We cut to Marin making a phone call to the company, “What you want is gone forever. I’m going to see the sights.”. Then we see Martin greeting the little boy from his host family (the only member to survive) and giving him a hug. Just as he was saved from loneliness by the family he bonded with, Martin saved the Tiger from loneliness and despair, and now he saves the little boy from a lonely life in a foster home. All three of them, the boy, Martin, and the tiger were spared a lonely ending and existence.
Watch the scene (in two parts) below