Hunger 2008

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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.

Starring:
Liam Cunningham, Helena Bereen
Rental Formats:
DVD

Product Details

Discs
  • Feature ages_15_and_over
Runtime 1 hour 36 minutes
Starring Liam Cunningham, Helena Bereen, Stuart Graham, Michael Fassbender, Larry Cowan, Laine Megaw, Rory Mullen, Brian Milligan, Liam McMahon, Dennis McCambridge
Director Steve McQueen (i), Steve McQueen
Genres Crime, Drama
Studio PATHE VIDEO
Rental release Limited availability
Main languages English

Other Formats

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
This item has not been released yet and is not eligible to be reviewed.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

34 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Elias M VINE VOICE on 15 May 2009
Format: DVD
On a literal level, Steve McQueen's feature debut, Hunger, delineates the events surrounding the 1981 IRA Hunger Strike, led by Bobby Sands. It is also a meditation on the human body as political weapon, as well as an abstraction on what it means to die for a cause.
In spite of McQueen's celebrated status as a Turner Prize winning artist who has a long experience working in the film medium, the journey to realising his creative vision with Hunger was far from problem-free. At a Q&A session I attended towards the close of 2008, the film's producers, Laura Hastings-Smith and Robin Gutch, described the difficulty they encountered in trying to raise funds for the project. McQueen's perceived "radical" ideas, which included exploring the possibility of making a silent film, made some potential sponsors feel jittery.
The first third of the film is almost devoid of any dialogue at all whilst it works to set the scene. Silence is contrasted against the centrepiece of the film - a twenty-two minute duologue between Bobby Sands and a Catholic priest, in which both men discuss the utility or futility of a hunger strike. This is followed by a monologue by a doctor's detailed description to Sands' parents about the effect of starvation on the human body. The third act observes the six-week disintegration of Sands' body during his hunger strike, which proves to be both engrossing and almost impossible to watch. Hunger, in the end is an indelibly powerful, poetic and provocative work - both emotionally and intellectually.
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38 of 45 people found the following review helpful By haunted on 8 Dec. 2008
Format: DVD
It is, of course, impossible to make a non political film about the Maze Hunger Strikes of the early 80's. The events came from the political situation in Northern Ireland of the previous 12 (60?) years.

In my opinion McQueen does the right thing by concentrating on a single particular and admittedly very dramatic event of the period. Perhaps someone will one day make a comprehensive epic about the period but maybe it isn't the time yet. The general political details of how the protests arose are given in the film but mostly the camera just shows the events as they arise without comment.

The film has 3 parts. The first shows the self imposed conditions the prisoners lived in during the Blanket and Dirty protests. While I knew this involved them spreading their own excrement on the walls of their cells it is still a bit of a shock to see it re-enacted on screen. There are also long scenes showing the mistreatment by the prison guards. At one point I was thinking that the filmmaker was showing bias by spending so much time on this brutality. There is then a brief scene showing one of the prison officers being shot in the back of the head while visiting his senile mother in a nursing home.
Which actions are more brutal? Are any of them justified? McQueen leaves it up to the viewer to decide.
The middle section is an extended converstion between hunger strike leader Bobby Sands and a priest before the strike begins. They discuss the morality and motivation of the strike. Again McQueen sets out both views and leaves the decisions up to the viewer. I found one suggestion the priest made very interesting i.e. that Sands desperately wanted to be included in the Pantheon of Irish Republican martyrs such as Tone and Pearse.
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56 of 69 people found the following review helpful By Colin J. Herd on 3 Dec. 2008
Format: DVD
I watched this film last night at the cinema and it justifies the hype that is surrounding it. The director, Steve McQueen, is of course most famous (up till now anyway) as the winner of the Turner Prize in 1999 (when he pipped Tracey Emin to the prize). He has been a film-maker for a long time, (his debut was Bear in 1993 which is a stark, stripped-back look at masculinity), but this is his first feature film. It retains the stripped-back feel, focussing mostly on one location, the Maze Prison, and the brutal horrors that go on therein. It is not for the faint of heart at all. Some parts of it are shocking, and yet Mcqueen has a great talent for stalling at particularly striking images and holding the shot for some time while action continues. I find this really effective, noticing the eery beauty in even the most brutal, unhappy, awful situations. This for me is the opposite of euphemism (an example of which, 'the troubles', used to refer to the war that went on in Ireland, is exposed as the lie it is in this film)... it takes a searing, brave, honest look at things, sees their terrible beauty and holds it so that you revile yourself in even thinking of beauty. These conflicting emotions are also embodied in the central character, Bobby Sands, who led the tragic 1981 hunger strike that resulted in 10 deaths.

Mcqueen's film is remarkably un-cluttered and yet a wealth of different kinds of scene are employed. We have a scene of extended dialogue in which Sands discusses the ethics of hunger striking with a priest. Thatcher's ugly voice is used as a voice-over. There are very violent scenes. A scene where a man is in tears, while extreme violence goes on beside him.

I think this is must-viewing for anyone interested in film, interested in recent history, interested in the way history is formed. It is not a simplistically judgemental film. The performances, particularly Michael Fassbender, are similarly uncompromising, brave and dedicated.
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