Tuesday, September 23, 2008


I believe that the story that this Steve McQueen movie tells has been told before in other movies, but definitively not as graphic and impact full as in McQueen oeuvre and in many ways I also believe that stories like this one HAVE to be told in a very graphic way so viewers can be “shaken” by what they actually see that represent a not long ago history of one country which unfortunately still happens today in many other countries.

The movie tells about the last weeks of the life of Irish Republican freedom fighter Bobby Sands.

The movie as a movie is hard to comment because the powerful story it tells, but most outstanding is the way is told. I believe it’s crucial to remember that McQueen is a powerhouse artist, winner of the 1999 Turner Prize for his video installations, to understand how magnificent this movie really is. Co written by McQueen the story is told like in three acts, the first focusing in two other IRA inmates in the infamous H block of Belfast Maze prison, the second a dialogue between Sands and Father Moran and the third telling about Sands slow decline into starvation.

So, those not that familiar with this chapter of history will see in the first act a well developed script that without many words tells things you need to know as background to what comes in the third act. The second act is just words, words and words that say everything with two fix cameras that most of the time remain still and the smoking characters looking like shadows at moments due to amazing lighting and the smoke. The third act Sands goes into a transformation that made me recall Christian Bale’s performance in The Machinist, a movie that I have not been able to see complete as I find it too disturbing, but in Hunger it didn’t disturbed me a bit because what they show is inspired on real life historical facts.

But, most of all, McQueen produced a visually incredible experience that absolutely looks like a true oeuvre of art, which is totally dissonant with the roughness of the story, but effectively captures your interest in following the story that if done in a different way I assure you that I will have had a hard time enduring what characters do in the screen.

I really dislike spoiling the story by telling details that were absolutely beautiful, even when what characters were doing was awful, so if you wish to read about the movie before watching it I suggest you read an article in the International Herald Tribune that not only will tell you more about the story, but also has some interesting comments from McQueen. I mention this as perhaps for some this movie is a movie that you really have to prepare yourself before deciding if you want to watch it or not.

The movie premiered as the opening film in the Un Certain Regard at the 2008 Cannes where it won the Camera d’Or, since then it has been screened in many festivals with great accolades, honors and awards just browse the blog to find many of the recognitions.

This is one of the most beautiful films I have seen lately and I say beautiful even when it tells a horrific story, but it is impossible not to notice the outstanding visual compositions, the incredibly good use of light, the amazing framing, good editing and outstanding cinematography.

Absolutely not for all audiences as not only is a brutal and graphic recount but also is done with arresting visuals that assault the senses with a slow pace that allows you to absolutely see and feel everything, including horrific situations.

Nevertheless, this is a movie that I strongly recommend to those that enjoy true art and serious cinema.


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