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  • Writer's pictureJames Rutherford

‘Hunger’: An Absolutely Riveting Depiction of Bobby Sands and the 1981 Irish Hunger Strike

Movie poster for the British film Hunger starring Michael Fassbender

“Hunger” (2008) is a vivid and brutally uncompromising historical drama starring Michael Fassbender as famed Provisional Irish Republican Army member Bobby Sands during the 1981 Irish Hunger Strike.

Incarcerated in Northern Ireland’s infamous Maze Prison, Sands and his fellow IRA members rebel viciously against prison officials and the British government they fundamentally represent. Their vehement protests and brute physical altercations with guard staff fulfill the heart of the story here—as they steadfastly demand “Special Category Status” from the government that would grant them the proper rights of political prisoners. As Sands ultimately embraces a coordinated hunger strike to raise awareness of their inhumane treatment, the film follows his progressive physical decline, marked by an astonishing transformation by Fassbender, who delivers a gut-wrenching and utterly breathtaking embodiment of the famed iconoclast.

Co-written and directed by renowned British artist-turned-filmmaker Steve McQueen (“Shame”, “12 Years A Slave”), “Hunger” paints a bare and visceral portraiture of abject, unwavering resistance. It’s entirely riveting, profoundly unsettling cinema, given an enormous lift by McQueen’s pristine artistic touch. Fierce, dynamic and remarkably compelling, this is one film not to be missed by any stretch or means.


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