F.I.L.M. of the Week (October 8, 2010)

8 10 2010

HungerThis week’s “F.I.L.M.” is Steve McQueen’s “Hunger,” a short volume of harrowing power.  The movie follows the Irish hunger strikers in 1981 who essentially martyred themselves after Britain refuses to recognize their rights while in prison.  The focus is specifically on Bobby Sands (Michael Fassbender), the leader of these strikers who ultimately died protesting for what he believed in.

“Hunger” is an incredibly striking visual movie, and McQueen goes into great depths to acquaint us with the conditions in the prison.  There is very little dialogue save a 23-minute conversation between Sands and the prison’s priest trying to talk him out of the protest, 17 minutes of which come from a single unbroken shot.  For those wondering, it is the longest shot in cinematic history.

Beyond the film’s notorious unbroken shot, there are plenty of haunting images that McQueen fills out heads with, particularly from the “no wash” protest that precedes the hunger strike.  We see the beatings and the tortures of naked prisoners in all their graphic form, and we watch in horror as the bruises appear on their skin at the hands of their captors.  We see the walls covered in excrement and the halls flooded with urine.  Believe me, fewer movies make you want to follow the law more than this one.

On the other hand, Fassbender’s Bobby Sands makes us question how far we are willing to stick with our beliefs.  He fights for equity from prison all the way to the grave, and while there were less drastic measures with which to make his point, his message gets across loud and clear.  Fassbender is as committed to the role as Sands is committed to the cause.  He goes to the physical and emotional limits of the character, and the performance is incredibly raw and forceful.  Fassbender will go places, mark my words.  Watch “Hunger” and say you knew it before he goes big.

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