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Hunger (The Criterion Collection)

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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 (132 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002YMWPUA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #31,059 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Hunger (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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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30 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Bowcock on February 3, 2010
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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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By zow on March 9, 2011
Format: Amazon Instant 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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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By technoguy on April 25, 2010
Format: DVD
Hunger does what it says on the tin,it abstracts from a polemical,ideological situation about hunger strikes in the Maze Prison in Northern Ireland in 1981 and removes the heat of the local personalities and history of the time, and gives us a film based on the individual humanity and decisions of individuals based at a stressful time.We get the essence without the controversy,coming as it does 27 years after the events described.We also get a film maker who has come from making video art works into the strange world of film making with all its taboos and shibboleths.Bobby Sands is the central character but doesn't come in until 35 minutes into the film.So the performance does not shout:this is Bobby Sands,he arrives as an organic part of the central and last triptychs.The films tripartite structure moves through the physical-the sheer claustrophobic hell of physical beatings,to the ideas at the heart of the motivation behind the hunger strike in the immaculate boxing match dialogue,to the wasting away of a human body in its last defence against an all powerful state.

The film opens with taking us through the daily rituals of Officer Lohan(Graham) as he prepares himself for another day's work in prison.He is lonely,suffers stress,we see crumbs dropping as he eats his breakfast.We see him smoking outside and snowflakes falling on his bloodied knuckles.As he leaves and opens his front gate like a prison door,he searches under his car for any bomb devices.In the Maze we see the admission process of another prisoner Brian and his refusal to wear prison uniform,and his receipt of a blanket as he is lead to his cell.Inside his cell, walls smeared with faeces greet him and he is met by Davey.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Rabid Reader on August 31, 2012
Format: Amazon Instant Video
I think Steve McQueen has to be one of the most interesting directors working right now. I loved Shame, which was so multi-layered I think you could teach a class on it. Hunger was similarly well put together. I liked the structure - the first and last parts had minimal dialogue, while the middle had this dynamic discussion between Bobby Sands and his local priest. Book-ending this brilliant discussion with near silence was a clever move.
One scene that struck me particularly was of a guard cleaning up the prisoners' urine in the hallway - the prisoners would use their leftover food to make "waterways" to guide their urine out under their doors at the same time to make a mess in the hall. There's a long, silent scene of the guard first splashing disinfectant (presumably) over the puddles, then, starting at the far end of the hallway, push-brooming the mess down the hall, sometimes pushing it under the prisoners' doors, then all the way down the hall. It was a scene that required patient viewing, but in retrospect, it made me think about how that was one of the few ways the inmates could protest, and yet how useless it was, as if their very voices were simply being shoved back at them or tossed down a drain. And yet despite the futility, they kept working in unison to protest. It was also another instance of using food, the very stuff of life itself, as a means of rebellion.
I doubt there are many other actors with enough talent too pull of the role of Bobby Sands as powerfully as Michael Fassbender, who manages to be riveting despite, or even perhaps because of, a lack of dialogue.
One minor issue is that film assumes you know what was going on politically at this time. I don't have a lot of knowledge of that unsettled period, but even so, I was able to appreciate the situation.
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