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Harrowing but will rivet you to your seat!,
This review is from: Hunger [DVD]  (DVD)
This does not despite some reports see McQueen make a hero out of first to die IRA prisoner on the infamous hunger strike campaign Bobby Sands, an utterly compelling and truly committed performance by Michael Fassbender.
McQueen's chooses to show us through is obvious artistic eye the brutal reality of what went on in the Maze prison in 1981, he isn't interested of showing Sand's and his colleagues as terrorists he takes this as a given. His unflinching camera just shows us what it was like to be a prisoner and guard in the maze at the height of the troubles.
He draws obvious parallels between Abu Ghraib and Guantananmo, to accept this actually went on in Britain. A disembodied voice of then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher appears issuing they will not relent to the pressure of terrorists. Witnessing naked prisoners been beaten with no concessions for detail while a young guard hides terrified and tear filled at the brutality of his fellow colleagues.
The film has a sparse amount of dialogue and McQueen chooses to show rather than tell the events. As a prisoner arrives and refuses to wear is prison uniform as the men wanted to be accepted a political prisoners as opposed to terrorists, criminals, we watch him strip naked and then his led to his cell. On arrival is enters to find a darkened cell, the camera follows around the cell showing the excrement smeared across the walls as the men are at the height of their infamous dirty protests and his cell mate sat amongst it all.
McQueen's background as a video artist is present throughout, a prison guard stands against a white wall smoking a cigarette, his eye trains on a snow flake melting on his hand. A prisoner putting his hand in and out a wired window playing with a fly and the vision of seeing inmates poring their urine out of a door as part of their protests, we see it pour out into the corridors given a almost beautiful quality by his artistic vision.
One long sequence which sees a guard pour disinfectant down the same corridor and mop from one end to the other. The majority of the dialogue appears in the films centre piece a discussion between a Catholic Priest the always impressive Liam Cunningham and Fassbender's Sand's. One 20 minute fixed camera take which see the two men place their arguments with no sides taken each having an equal chance to present his side, there is mutual respect between them but a huge gulf between each others beliefs, this moment goes some to explaing why Sand's an obvious intelligent man would subject himself to such a thing, his determination is unrelenting.
The rest of the film watches as Sand's through making the decision to go through with a hunger strike deteriorate before our eyes. McQueen does not hold back from showing the sheer horror of his body breaking down, showing someone attending to the sores on his back with painstaking detail.
McQueen apparently stopped filming for a number of months so Fassbender could loose the weight, which he lost on a diet of berries and sardines, his commitment to the role makes the methods of Christian Bale and Robert De Niro seem tame in comparison.
Would you want to return to such a work again? to watch this is an exhausting exercise and one which is not pleasant but it begs to be seen and never loses your interest, McQueen's film is highly original and important statement.