Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Hunger by Steve McQueen

Merging the use of form and content, montage and composition, art and realism, distancing the viewer and presenting an unflinchingly close look, sublimity and revulsion, slow takes and furious editing, maddening confusion and unshakable clarity, the viewpoints of Man, God, Society and State, this film is the prize winner of defiance, Aye. This is required viewing for any admirer of The Stranger by Albert Camus. Camus' famous question to humanity was: "Why do you not commit suicide?"

The director relents and loosens his grip only once in the whole film, to help us take a breath, and then only to plunge us headlong into intimacy with a convulsing and seething body.

Divided in three parts - Prologue, Dialogue and Epilogue - the film finally settles down on Robert Sands, an IRA leader who started the hunger strike for political recognition in the Maze prison in 1981.

With more than two dozen bravura sequences, which can be watched again and again for their sheer artistry, this film deservedly won the Camera d'Or (The Golden Camera), the highest prize for a debut film at Cannes 2008.

This is the first film I have been privileged to see in 2009.


Anonymous said...

" Where words are scarce they are seldom spent in vain/For they breathe truth that breathe their words in pain "

( Reference, Richard II by Shakespeare)

Modern Man said...

Greetings Harman,

I watched this film recently and now consider it the best one I've seen from '09. My pre-viewing reading about it was very limited, and I had no idea that it was so experimental (introducing the prison officer and other inmates before the 'main' character was an extremely risky, yet ultimately brilliant decision). And what could have been an overly sentimental ending turned out to be a haunting meditation on the death of body and mind (did you notice the visual similarities between the final moments Robert Sands and Chris McCandless in Into the Wild?).

I liked your comparison to The Stranger, as well.