By Tom Greaves
|Archival footage of the Tasmanian Tiger (1932)|
The second and final glimpse comes towards the end of the film, when the tiger discovers the hunter in its cave, its form framed in the entrance. This face-to-face is followed by a short chase, where the creature is almost lost in the distance and the snow, and then with just a breath of hesitation, the hunter shoots it.
|The Tasmanian Tiger at the end of The Hunter, dir. Daniel Nettheim (2011)|
Alone and unaccompanied, the hunter cremates the tiger and scatters its ashes from a cliff-top over the forest. This hidden gesture, aiming at nothing but the recovery an animal’s dignity, might be fruitfully compared to the more urbane secret dog cremations carried out by David Lurie in J.M.Coetzee’s Disgrace.
|The Hunter, dir. Daniel Nettheim (2011)|
It is salutary and disturbing to discover that before Europeans arrived in Australia tigers had already been close to extinction on the mainland for a long time and their disappearance there is likely to have been due at least in part to competition with Aboriginal hunters.  The greatest challenge of the film is to ask us to imagine a case in which these events had not been imagined, in which this hunt had not be shown to us, and in which the tiger remains nothing for us, as itself a case in which the tiger’s life would be revered.