The Dark Arts Review #12

This week’s film is Hunger, a 2008 film by Steve Mcqueen. It tells the story of 1981 Irish hunger strikes in Maze prison. The film is sullen in it’s portrayal of Bobby Sands struggle for the recognition of IRA members as political prisoners.

Although this is Steve Mcqueen’s first film, he rose to fame as a respected photographer, he skilfully tells this passionate tale through visuals rather than dialogue. Characters are introduced through mesmerising long shots. The struggle told through the violence suffered upon by the prisoners and their attempts to fight back.

For example the picture above is of the wall of the two IRA prisoners whom we follow. The brown stuff, well that’s a dirty protest. The picture below depicts the urine protests.

I cant describe the movie too much without giving a lot away, although this is a historical story so you can easily find out what happens. The film is anchored by a 15 minute dialogue between two characters. A still, almost one shot, intriguing conversation between a priest and Bobby Sands that captivates the viewer. You rarely have 3 minutes in a Hollywood film without some energetic and frantic cutting, often in order to hide the bland acting (see Wolverine). Baring in mind that the rest of the film is spent in almost near silence, this conversation really is the pride and joy of the film.

Special praise must be reserved for the physical transformation undertaken by Michael Fassbender. If you thought Christian Bale in The Machinist was hardcore then prepare to be surprised.

Overall this film deserves its platitudes, winner of the Camera D’Or at last year’s Cannes Film festival. It is an excellent first feature, Mcqueen joins a band of photographer turned director (Anoton Corbijin comes to mind) with a bright future.

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