Steve McQueen's directorial debut is a brave and uncompromising attempt to chart the hunger strike led by Bobby Sands. Now, you must be warned, this is far from happy viewing. If you watch this expecting a cinematic race of emotions similar to that of Mamma Mia, you'll come away from this gruelling experience feeling assaulted, abused and stamped on. But it's important not to get hard-to-stomach images confused with bad film making, and this is certainly not the latter. Arguably the best British film of last year, and certainly the best Irish film, Hunger stays clear of the biopic clichés and takes a fairly neutral stance on the issue of the 1981 hunger strikes, which were targeted at the British Government in a protest after the prisoners where refused to be treated as "political prisoners". At times free from dialogue (a daring decision in itself), cinema and art are blended together by McQueen to make a fearless portrait of a complicated man. Of course, the images of Sands's food-starved body and prison abuse are powerful, but it is the central part of the film that is the real wonder to be appreciated here - a twenty minute conversation. If violence and nudity are the starter, and starvation is the dessert, this conversation is the main course, and proves why Steve McQueen is a talent to watch. Allegedly shot in just one take, this conversation is between Sands and Father Dominic Moran, and completely captivates as the two opinionated men pick over subjects such as suicide, martyrdom and the will of God. Heavy subjects for a heavy film, but by keeping this extended meeting as the prize scene in a film drawn from such extraordinary talent, McQueen manages to capture Sands's motive and drive without giving us an IRA soap-opera. Although proclaimed by many (including, to an extent, myself) as a hard-to-watch ordeal, Hunger is more than just a film, but an artistic event - an achievement that is equally as hard to ignore as it is to stomach.
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Please note this is a region 2 DVD and will require a region 2 (Europe) or region Free DVD Player in order to play. Hunger follows life in the Maze Prison, Northern Ireland with an interpretation of the highly emotive events surrounding the 1981 IRA Hunger Strike, led by Bobby Sands. With an epic eye for detail, the film provides a timely exploration of what happens when body and mind are pushed to the uttermost limit. Actors Michael Fassbender, Stuart Graham, Helena Bereen, Larry Cowan, Liam Cunningham, Dennis McCambridge, Liam McMahon, Laine Megaw, Brian Milligan, Rory Mullen & Lalor Roddy Director Steve McQueen Certificate 15 years and over Year 2008 Screen Widescreen 2.35:1 Anamorphic Languages English - Dolby Digital (5.1) Subtitles English for the hearing impaired
Steve McQueen directs this unflinching dramatisation of the last weeks in the life of Bobby Sands, the Provisional IRA member who led the 1981 Irish hunger strike in the political wing of Belfast's Maze Prison. Ten prisoners starved themselves to death in protest at being denied official political prisoner status by Margaret Thatcher's government. Michael Fassbender plays Sands, whose passionate commitment to the cause for which he has been imprisoned and in the righteousness of dying for his political beliefs is portrayed in a central scene where he discusses the morality of the hunger strike with a visiting priest (Liam Cunningham). The film premiered at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival, where it was given an 'Un Certain Regard' screening.