Michael Fassbender, Liam Cunningham, Liam McMahon
After years as one of the UK’s top visual artists, Hunger marked the arrival of Turner-prize winning Steve McQueen as a narrative filmmaker, as well as providing the earliest demonstration of Michael Fassbender’s mesmerising screen presence. McQueen’s debut rivals his Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave, both works that reignite the physical actualities of historical fact with thought-provoking intensity.
Hunger is the unflinching dramatisation of the last weeks in the life of Bobby Sands, the Provisional IRA member who led the 1981 Irish hunger strike in the political wing of Belfast’s Maze Prison. Ten prisoners starved themselves to death in protest at being denied official political prisoner status by Margaret Thatcher’s government. Michael Fassbender plays Sands, whose passionate commitment to the cause for which he has been imprisoned and in the righteousness of dying for his political beliefs is portrayed in a central scene where he discusses the morality of the hunger strike with a visiting priest (Liam Cunningham).
Asking profound questions about idealism and extremism that resonate to this day, Hunger is necessary and devastating viewing.