“uniquely ugly, tragic and dysfunctional..”

In the Independent David McKittrick notes the competing republican claims to the image of Bobby Sands, and an Observer report last week added comments from Richard O’Rawe and Jeffrey Donaldson. Steve McQueen, the director of Hunger, premiered at Cannes Film Festival on Thursday, is firm in his view in this Reuters report

McQueen said the only controversy surrounding “Hunger” was one created by the media. “If anyone comes out of there thinking that I’m thinking that Bobby Sands is a martyr should basically watch the film again and look and listen,” he told Reuters in an interview.

The BBC also provides a short interview with the debut director along with some clips from the film, but it’s Peter Bradshaw’s 4-star review which caught my eye, in particular the reference to hatred.

Hunger is extreme cinema for an extreme subject. It is outstandingly made; long wordless sequences are composed with judgment and flair and expository dialogue scenes are confidently positioned. It surely confirms McQueen as a real film-maker.

The full nauseous horror of the dirty protest is unflinchingly addressed by McQueen’s camera. There are long, unhurried shots of the endless prison corridor, with swags of urine seeping from under each cell door. You can feel the prisoners breeding their hate and rage like bacilli in a gigantic Petri dish. The scenes of brutality are almost unwatchable.

Hunger is raw, powerful film-making and an urgent reminder of this uniquely ugly, tragic and dysfunctional period in British and Irish history.

Update Cannes agrees, with Steve McQueen winning the Camera d’Or for first-time film-makers.

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