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Hunger (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]

131 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, Blu-ray, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: February 16, 2010
  • Run Time: 96 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (131 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002XUL6RG
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #53,367 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Hunger (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]" 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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29 of 34 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 Cosmoetica on June 21, 2012
Format: Blu-ray
The film treats Sands less as a Christ-like martyr or an Osama-like terrorist, and more as an old time Robert Ripley curio- a believe it or not. Margaret Thatcher, on the other hand, is never seen, merely heard, as almost a Dickensian wraith of malignance and idiocy, and these dual treatments- the brutalizer as bodiless and the brutalized as slowly debodied, are a great example of the subtle poesy the film employs. Technically, the film is interesting in how it juxtaposes image with sound, and sometimes allows sound to be the dominant sense. From early scenes of a guard, outside in winter, smoking a cigaret, and hearing exhalation, to the rancor in multiple scenes of violence, McQueen uses synaesthesia better than just about any other film director around. Also, he makes grand use of the long take, clearly influenced by the works of Theo Angelopoulos and Bela Tarr. In the subgenre of `prison film,' Hunger blows away other lauded films, from Cool Hand Luke to Midnight Express, which are conventional melodramas, in comparison. But, in achieving his realism sans much dialogue, McQueen also shows that he is, in a sense, the anti-Cassavetes, for where Cassavetes achieved such realism with dialogue, in great films like Faces and The Killing Of A Chinese Bookie, by letting characters speak as in real life, McQueen allows characters to react and brood, as in real life. In Cassavetes films, the self is defined by interactions with other selves. In McQueen's film, self is delineated by interaction with oneself.Read more ›
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