Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Sunday night's film club found the usual protagonists, minus Frankenkeith who was on boat counting duties at Rame, assembled at Millbrooker Towers for the 2008 drama of the Long Kesh (AKA H-Blocks / Maze prison) dirty protests and hunger strikes in the early 1980s: Hunger.
I'll start off here by stating starkly and simply that this is the most powerful piece of film I can remember seeing. Ever.

It's unremittingly grim and it's shot in "real time" which makes it painfully, grindingly slow. This by no means suggests that the viewer will be bored - you'll find yourself glued to the screen - transfixed by the mundanity of everyday violence, both physical and (more revealingly) mental.
The direction is outstanding, McQueen had a serious vision of how to present this story without glamour, without prejudice and without judgement. This is matched by utterly convincing performances from the actors whether portraying thin, filthy, degraded and fiercely alive prisoners or brutalised, depressed, down-at-heel officers.
This is not a film for the faint hearted, McQueen never shirks from keeping the cameras focused directly on the glaring inhumanity of the Long Kesh prison system whilst never electing to suggest that either side would be able to lay claim to any moral high ground. It's the stark even handedness that gives the film its main source of power.
The central scene is a long dialogue, shot from a single camera angle without change of focus or zoom in which Bobby Sands (Michael Fassbender) talks through his plan to starve himself to death with a priest (Liam Cunningham). The argument between the two men is fierce and intelligent. And deeply disturbing in its intensity.Sands, of course, goes through with his plan and nine other men did the same, one after another.

This is a film to be hugely admired, but not one to be enjoyed. Once in a while, a film gets made that should be watched for the sake of history; Hunger is definitely one of those films. Please see it, but you've been warned that it won't make you feel good.

The film club scale: Dong took one fag break in the 93 minute running time; Shazzerooneypoos was silent throughout; Slocombe used the word "harrowing" in his post-viewing summation; Mrs The Millbrooker was stunned into quietude, as was Dozybean.

I'll say it again - please see this film.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

check out this story on mcqueen, pretty interesting: