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Hunger (The Criterion Collection)

4.1 out of 5 stars 146 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

With HUNGER, British filmmaker and artist Steve McQueen has turned one of history’s most controversial acts of political defiance into a jarring, unforgettable cinematic experience. In Northern Ireland’s Maze prison in 1981, twenty-seven-year-old Irish Republican Army member Bobby Sands went on a hunger strike to protest the British government’s refusal to recognize him and his fellow IRA inmates as political prisoners, rather than as ordinary criminals. McQueen dramatizes prison existence and Sands’ final days in a way that is purely experiential, even abstract, a succession of images full of both beauty and horror. Featuring an intense performance by Michael Fassbender, HUNGER is an unflinching, transcendent depiction of what a human being is willing to endure to be heard.

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Product Details

  • Actors: Michael Fassbender, Stuart Graham, Liam Cunningham
  • Directors: Steve McQueen
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: June 1, 2010
  • Run Time: 96 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (146 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002YMWPUA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #54,377 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Hunger (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Nate TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 29, 2009
Format: Blu-ray
In spite of the care and patient control with which this powerful film is shot and edited, "Hunger" is a deeply visceral and moving film, featuring a brilliant performance by Michael Fassbender in the lead role. There are scenes of violent and intense brutality here, but what is more powerful are the simple shots, of a face, of a look, of a gesture, washing hands, of sores on the back of a dying prisoner. While the film is based on real events, with deep political ramifications, the film itself is not so much political as a plea for humanity, that sides with the wounded sensitivity detected in the eyes of those guards who had been unable to desensitize themselves to the routinely brutal treatment they gave to the prisoners in an effort to break their spirits, as much as it sides with the humanity in the dehumanized IRA prisoners it depicts.

The film details the horrific prison conditions that motivated IRA leader Bobby Sands to begin a hunger strike in 1981, that led to his death and that of 8 other prisoners, but also eventually won some concessions for the IRA prisoners, that they had been unable to achieve in any other way. The film opens on one of the guards, washing his hands of the violence he'd inflicted on a prisoner but also unable to wash away his own sense of culpability and fear, and, later, unable to build a connection with the other guards who seem more immune to what they do.

It isn't until about a third of the way through the film that we are introduced to Bobby Sands, who is clearly something of a leader among the men, and it isn't until the final third of the film that Sands takes center stage, and embarks upon the hunger strike that gives the film its title.
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Format: Blu-ray
This is hands down one of the best films of the past decade for me. "Visual Artist" Steve McQueen captures a sense of humanity in a way that few directors seem to be in touch with, telling a powerful story in a fashion that most are afraid to.

There is very little dialogue - and the dialogue that exists comes in spouts like an 18-minute long scene where the camera stays still and doesn't cut away at all. It could have easily been pretentious, but it is not in the least. McQueen has proven himself just by this one instance to be an extraordinary visionary that knows how to tell a story vividly without having to "tell" it. Did I mention the cinematography is gorgeous? Practically everything in "Hunger" is honed to perfection, and Michael Fassbinder's gruelingly tangible performance shows human deterioration at its most believable.

A masterpiece.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I have no objection to Truth. Do you? How could you, honestly?

And I have no objection to Art. Hey, some of my best friends are artists.

Most of the many favorable reviews of this film Hunger laud its artistic achievement. Perceiving Art is a totally subjective matter, but most of "us" are modestly certain that we know Art when we see it. This film is indeed artfully made. Brilliantly so! And artfully acted. One has to wonder how Michael Fassbender survived the making of Hunger; the ravages to the body of his character, Bobby Sands, are horrifying to behold. Much is horrifying in this film. The brutality and squalor depicted in the Maze Prison of Northern Ireland, where the 1981 IRA no-wash, no-uniform, and hunger strikes took place, are Holocaust-level horrifying. The film is not a narrative, not a thriller, certainly not an entertainment. It's a depiction of horror, and it's absolutely obvious that director Steve McQueen and his cast of actors are convinced of the Truth of their depiction. "Conviction" is very convincing.

But that drags me screaming up against the question of the relationship between Truth and Art. Art demands subjective verification. Truth, however, pleads for objectivity even while the Art remains ineluctably subjective. After all, Art is made by Artists, who are fearsomely plausible even when they're wrong. Trust me, I'm not asserting that Steven McQueen was wrong, or that the depiction of the Maze Prison is inaccurate! But I don't know! If this were a book of supposed scholarship, I'd be hell-bent on determining its factuality. But it's Art! I'm touchy about Art that exists chiefly to portray a Truth. Is "Art that Lies" better than "No Art at All"?
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Format: Amazon Video
Hunger tackles a difficult and controversial subject. At times its not easy viewing but all the better a film for that. Best known as a photographer (until this) Steve McQueens debut feature is original, beautiful, sparse and the cast, art direction and cinematography are simply outstanding.
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Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
Having read some of the other reviews, I cannot connect to any of those who viewed this as "art". This was life in the Maze and Long Kesh for those suspected of IRA involvement in the late 70's and early 80's. I was not a prisoner, but I knew many friends and family members of those who were and what is depicted in this film is as close to truth as it gets. It was brutal, it was inhuman, it was wrong and to this day the British will try to defend it as they spent 35 years defending how their soldiers murdered innocent civilians in Derry on Bloody Sunday by saying the British Army was under attack by the IRA, a fact long denied and finally admitted to by the British government. I cheered when the sadistic prison guard was shot as he visited his mother. Had someone asked, I would have gladly done it myself. Now we complain about the cruelty and brutality of Isis. Then, we who lived under the yoke of British occupation had the same complaints about the British army. All that has changed is the locale and the name. I watched this film and cried when those men were beaten and subjected to such dehumanizing treatment. And my heart soared when I remember the sacrifice (not suicide by the way, but an ancient form on Celtic protest) of those ten young men, and all the others who came before and after. My special prayer was to have ten minutes alone in a locked room with Margaret Thatcher and I would have gladly shown her what crime really was. Am I bitter? Bet your bum. Most of the comments on this film show that few really had any concept of what occurred during this period in Irish history. If they only knew how close to true it is.
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