Hunger (Steve McQueen) 2008 Spoilers

Hunger is about a real life strike in a maze prison during 1981.  The government revoked the IRA’s special political status and are now considered as ordinary prisoners.  The IRA prisoners first attempt a blanket strike, wherein they don’t wear any clothes, bathe, and seemingly no restroom privileges (they piss on the floors and smear shit on the walls).  Then when negotiations between the Republicans and the government fail, Bobby Sands (Michael Fassbinder) comes up with the idea of a hunger strike.  Instead of having several people strike at once and someone possibly breaking ranks and giving in they stagger the people going on strike.  One person will go on strike, die, then another will take his place, most likely die, and so on until they give into their demands.  In the end I believe it was 9 people who die of the strike before the government gave into their demands.

Oh…my…god this is a depressing ass movie.  I finally gave in to watch this movie because I had heard so much positive buzz about it.  But man, this, this was a test.  Why is this movie so hard?  For the last 30 minutes you see Bobby waste away to nothing and die a slow and painful death.  You may think a person may just get weak and fall asleep from exhaustion and die.  Nah.  This guy lived over 60 days and he wasted away to barely a skeleton covered with skin ridden with festering sores.  This man dies possibly one of the most gruesome and f*cked up ways a person can die.  This is a true test to get through because we are almost forced to watch this guy drip away to nothing.  It is hard; almost too hard to ever get though.

The movie is well done and the first hour is almost a good movie in its own.  The prison is a battle ground between the prisoners and the guards.  The prisoners show no respect and as I mention before shit all over the place and do not bathe.  The guards take any opportunity to “inspect” the prisoners aka take them out one at a time and beat the piss out of them and maybe sodomize them with a stick.  That also doesn’t factor into the IRA members on the outside who assassinate guards as we get in one scene.

One of the best scenes is when Bobby tells the prison chaplain of the plan to strike and they have a debate over the merits of what he was planning on doing.  The Father was trying to reason with Bobby that his actions have huge consequences outside of the prison possibly culminating in a lot more bloodshed but Bobby will not have any of that.  To Bobby it is not about the IRA or politics or religion but of basic dignity and not being treated as sub-human.  Fassbinder (who you may know from Inglorious Basterds) is excellent in this movie.  There are some other characters but this is really his movie.

The direction and the cinematography (for being all set in a dark prison) is really good.  It’s strange to say that McQueen can make the prisoners simultaneous filtering of their waste through funnels into the prison hallways rather hypnotic.  He does enough to keep things interesting all the way through but not going overboard stylistically.

Do I recommend this movie?  Not really.  Don’t get me wrong, I would say this is a powerful movie.  But I also understand you wouldn’t want to thoroughly depress yourself.  That is why I am also a little hesitant to say people must see certain Holocaust movies.  I kind of understand how much of a test these movies can be.  And this movie is a test.  I have seen a lot of movies in my time and even I was in a funk for the rest of the day.  So yeah, it’s great but keep all that in mind when you are deciding if you want to watch it.


One Response to “Hunger (Steve McQueen) 2008 Spoilers”

  1. To be honest with you, I completely forgot other people could be named Steve McQueen. Sounds like Elie Wiesel’s night in reverse.

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