Hunger follows life in the Maze Prison, Northern Ireland shortly before and during the infamous 1981 IRA hunger strike led by Bobby Sands. With and epic eye for the detail, the film provides a timely exploration of the final act of desperation, when the human body is the last and ultimate resources for protest.
Outstanding debut director
- Hunger review by Jawbreaker
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You rated this film: 4
Hunger is the astounding debut feature from Steve McQueen concerning the IRA hunger strikes, in particular Bobby Sands. Now I do recall hunger strikes and the whole media portrayal of these events in the Maze Prison. The film does not glamorise the act or the abusive prison regime. The guards themselves were subject to assassination attempts, as the death count grew no matter what side you were on. Thankfully this is not a political film; McQueen balances the unfolding events with great care, ensuring the film remains true without toppling onto one side.
Hunger is a film of few words, but those that remain are precise, powerful and combined with decisive actions make for an extremely powerful vision. Christian Bale willingly subjected himself to a strict diet to achieve the Machinist; Fassbender achieves the same affect. However here it is far more personal, the slow disintegration of the bodily systems are captured in only a few scenes. The ending won’t surprise anyone aware of the struggles, but the peace that Sands finds, maintains some dignity in his decision.
The greatest scene is without question the meeting between Sands and a priest. This lasts seventeen minutes and with only one camera. It is one of those standout moments in modern cinema. Like There Will Be Blood this is a film from 2008 that will remain in the consciousness of those fortunate enough to see it.
Very bleak, disturbing and powerful portrayal of the maize prison and the prisoners struggle for recognition as political prisoners. Fassbender is outstanding as Bobby Sands, his acting through the ravages of starvation on the hunger strike are remarkable, hard viewing but McQueen captures the hell of starvation as close as possible to which I would imagine the actual agony to be like.
Similarly, the cells smeared in excrement and the living conditions in these conditions is equally captured, as is the barbaric treatment of prisoners and their keepers.
The scene when the prison guard visits his mother is I guarantee you, unforgettable, extraordinary direction showing the horrors of the ongoing conflict.
A very artistic film, in the sense that it portrays the reality of the situation (which unfortunately is true for all involved) in a realistic unpretentious way. The final fade out shot being a typical example, unpretentious but simultaneously hits you with a sledge hammer straight in the face.