I finally saw Steve McQueen's Hunger (2008) last night - appropriate as I had spent the day in the library researching The Maze Prison.

It is a heartbreaking and supremely beautiful film detailing the final months of IRA member Bobby Sands, who died in May 1981 after 66 days on hunger strike. 

While I did not feel it to be entirely balanced, I'm uncertain whether such a film ever really could be - and doubt this was really within Steve McQueen's scope. Nonetheless, I appreciated how powerful the film was in depicting the appalling conditions for detainees. Michael Fassbender dropped his weight to a staggering 8 stone for the role of Sands - and throughout, I felt the focus remained on the body as the location of ultimate protest, and what a human can be willing to endure in order to be listened to. 

Each frame was beautifully shot without being too self-conscious; snowflakes falling on the bloody knuckles of an abusive prison guard, wreaths of blue cigarette smoke surrounding faces, a hand reaching through wire to touch a fly... 

I found this film to be particularly difficult viewing due to the current situations in Bahrain and in Palestine. Abdulhadi Al-Khawaja has now been on hunger strike for freedom for an astounding 90 days (in effect, his whereabouts and condition are currently unclear). His daughter has been arrested for charges relating to her activism. Learn more and act to support Abdulhadi here. 
In Palestine, more than 1,500 prisoners are on hunger strike - with shockingly little media coverage. Richard Falk's recent piece on the situation is both insightful and very moving. 

In conclusion, McQueen's film is devastating and not without its complexities, but definitely recommended. 


Zombie Lace said...

Sounds pretty heavy. I am interested in the subject matter, but I think I will content myself to your review ;)

dianne tanner // icefloe said...

UGH this movie is so hardcore, i only made it halfway through!