Hunger (DVD) 2008 Michael Fassbender, Liam Cunningham. Color, Shown in its original aspect ratio: 2.35:1 With optional English subtitles. Approx. 1 hr 36 min. (Region 1 - Playable in North America - The US, Canada, Mexico, etc.)
Starring: Michael Fassbender, Liam Cunningham, Liam McMahon, Stuart Graham, Brian Milligan. Producers: Andrew Litvin, Edmund Coulthard, Iain Canning, Jan Young, Laura Hastings-Smith. Written by Enda Walsh and Steve McQueen. Directed by Steve McQueen.
Quite simply one of the most moving films ever made. Not for the faint of heart. If you think you’re ready –
Steve McQueen ("12 Years a Slave” - in his directorial debut) directs this unflinching dramatization 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.
It’s a bold film that can seat two people opposite each other for nearly 20 minutes, just having a conversation. “Hunger” is that movie. What’s particularly impressive is just how enthralling the scene is, and how it makes cinematic gold out of something seemingly so straightforward. “Hunger” is the story of the IRA hunger strike at the Maze Prison in 1981, and it quickly pulls little punches in getting across the conditions in the prison, and the inmates’ dissatisfaction.
“Hunger” treads a very careful political line throughout its running time, and what emerges is a surprisingly open drama, powered by an excellent performance from Michael Fassbender (as Bobby Sands). As Sands embarks on his infamous hunger strike, Fassbender mesmerizes in the role, leading up to the aforementioned, gripping, single conversation that’s the highlight of the film.
The film itself is superbly crafted, with McQueen creating the claustrophobic prison atmosphere brilliantly with a series of long close-ups and slow camera pans as the prisoners daub their cell walls with excrement and food waste, to a soundtrack of very sparse dialogue and virtually no music. “Hunger” is also brutal and unflinching in its portrayal of violence, both that of the prison officers towards the prisoners, but also that of the IRA itself.