When we get to the allegedly interminable scene in which Bobby Sands debates the morality of hunger strike with a Catholic priest, it comes as a relief from the audiences own sense of confinement in the ghastly world of filth and violence. Sands, joking about the wounds on his face implicates the priest unwittingly in a joke about the man who has been murdered by the IRA.
There are a few difficulties in the exchange between Sands and the priest. Sands recollections of Gweedore include barley fields and woodland. Mine dont. These are local incongruities, like the prison officer leaving his home in Gransha off the Glen Road, details that wont trouble foreign audiences.
The priest tells Sands that he has become an obsessive fanatic, unable even to love his own child. He accuses him of planning his own suicide. He throws every argument a sane compassionate person could muster against a ruthless man who is prepared to march boldly to his own death and take, potentially, dozens after him.
When the camera then turns to close-up on Sands the effect is almost unnervingly intimate. Then Sands delivers his reply with a story from childhood to illustrate his own courage and individual moral conscience. From then on we are into the story of his grotesque deterioration.