9.12.2009

Hunger (2008) - Steve McQueen

It is a treat to write about a film like this, it's not often I watch something new that is so spectacular. Hunger is a very sparse film, with little dialogue or back story. It simply presents a realist portrait of prison life. The prisoners involved happen to be IRA members in the early 1980s who have lost their "political prisoner" status under Thatcher (under the previous Labour gov't!) and start a protest with the only thing they still have any control over--their bodies. This means excrement, piss, and finally a brutal hunger strike that kills several of them, including the protagonist Bobby Sands (who doesn't eat for 66 fucking days! Seriously!). However, I wouldn't call this a political film about Ireland's "troubles." I think it is more a film about how heartbreakingly evil power is, and there is no better place to see it in its full glory than the prison. The way the prisoners, and even the guards are reduced to total animals by the circumstances created through extreme power is terrifying to watch. The use of the body as a final site of this power struggle is fascinating, and conjures some thoughts of the philosophical ideas circling Europe at the time this film takes place (i.e., Foucault, Deleuze, Negri, etc.). What an exciting first feature film by McQueen, and how happy I am I have a new director to follow!

All that being said, there certainly is an underlying political message here about how nasty those "troubles" really were. In particular, there is something that carries over into our current culture: people need to talk to each other, even to talk with "terrorists," because the lack of dialogue and recognition is what breeds violence. The film also reinforced my idea that there is a special ring of Hell set aside for Margaret Thatcher.

7 comments:

La Sporgenza said...

Agree completely that this is one of the strongest releases in recent memory. Mighty grim but a tour de force opening volley from McQueen.

Captain said...

Legislated by anomaly

indistinguishable revolutions
developing indefinitely
force-feeding species to keep them alive
all forms in complete isolation
balancing inanimate materials
binding frictionless qualities
feeding the hunger by sampling diseases
proud only in pure colors
utopia outlawed with dystopia
language forgotten and replaced with desire
communicating only fear, manifest in self-love

Britarded said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Britarded said...

I removed that last insult because I just realised this is Vogon poetry at it's finest and not in fact pure gobshite.

Captain said...

communicating only fear, manifest in self-love

La Sporgenza said...

schoolgirl sweetie
with a classy kinda sassy
little skirt's climbin'
way up the knee
there was three young ladies
in the school gym locker
when I noticed they was lookin' at me
I was a high school loser,
never made it with a lady
till the boys told me somethin' I missed
then my next door neighbor
with a daughter had a favor
so I gave her just a little kiss
like this

Britarded said...

Sweet emotion! I just birthed a dougan. I'm off for a wank in a cupboard. Justine, have you got a 'breaking bad' kind of chemistry happening on the ark or what? Fook. Frankly, that's best case scenario. Jog on.