Hunger - Body as Politics

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Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb Body as Politics in Steve McQueen’s film Hunger Matea Vrdoljak Irish culture Aidan O’Malley 31 January 2014 During the Northern Ireland Troubles republican activists were imprisoned in the Maze Prison, in the notorious H-Block. Because of the ill treatment of the prisoners and their strong fight for their principles the situation in prison escalated to the hunger strike. In this short paper I will talk about prisoners’ choice to use their bodies as political weapon, what led to that and what the consequences were. The emphasis on the body is remarkably well depicted in Steve McQueen’s film Hunger in terms of which I will talk about the use of body as politics. Even though he is a British director, he chose this subject which is particularly delicate and is often swept under the carpet in Britain. But he did not make a political film out of it, he wanted to present the experience of it all and by putting tortured human body in the centre of it, he succeeded to awaken compassion and deep connection in people. “He is not interested in the history behind his story or in the semantics of it. He simply wants the viewer to experience the experience” (Godara). McQueen did a great job in portraying these events in a neutral way. It is not shown whether Bobby Sands or any other Republican is the good guy or the bad one. Naturally, people feel disgust towards prison officers after seeing how they treat prisoners, but the movie itself never takes a side. “With Hunger, the film-makers make no explicit judgment of Sands. But in allowing him to emerge undiminished in body or spirit from the repeated rounds of assault by his guards and from his confrontation with Moran, and by giving his death such poignant resonance, Sands is allowed to achieve what few IRA movie characters have been permitted: the simple

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