Directorial Perfection: The Power of Hunger

Hello everyone. As you will very well have noticed, I haven’t posted anything here on my blog in nearly two months. Well, as you may have guessed, I hit a bit of a creative brick wall and couldn’t really think of anything to write that would interest everyone. So, I have decided that from now on I will write just what I want without really aiming at any particular audience. Whatever I feel like writing about in terms of films (and perhaps even music every now and again), I shall write. So without further ado, here’s my newest blog post.

Steve McQueen’s Hunger. I wrote a review of it back in July but even then I wasn’t doing it proper justice. It is one of the best films I have ever seen, and it features some of the most incredible, mindblowing direction from a man who was then relatively new to making films: Steve McQueen. Hunger was only his first feature, yet it has the skill and raw power instilled in each image of the more accomplished, later Kubrick films. It is a stunning, engrossing movie I could watch over and over and it is deservingly one of my twenty favourite films of all time.

But I’ve already reviewed it, so what’s left to give you? Images. Here are images from the film Hunger that for me, sum up McQueen’s greatness and directorial perfection. And there are many of them.

  • The focus on individual actions and body parts, reminiscent of Michael Haneke’s The Seventh Continent and Robert Bresson’s L’Argent, and a powerful distancing technique that separates the viewer from the “whole” by concentrating on the details. All these images are from the first few minutes of the movie.

  • The focus and framing of faces. Very powerful and evocative.

  • The framing of distant characters overwhelmed by their surroundings, trapped into them.

  • Dark, grungy colours, used to great effect.

  • Symmetry; images that are symmetrical to varying degrees. Recurring and startling.

  • General striking imagery, recurring throughout the movie.

And finally, as good a place to conclude this post as any, here is one of the most important scenes in the movie, a segment from the long conversation between Michael Fassbender’s character and a priest, that showcases Fassbender’s incredible talent and McQueen’s directorial skill in framing him and soaking up every single ounce of power in the image and dialogue. Absolutely stunning.

Posted on October 26, 2012, in Images, Movies and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 30 Comments.

  1. Nice to have you back! Have not seen Hunger yet, but have to agree this looks beautiful.


  3. Great to have you back Tyler and a great post also. This is a film that I hold in very high regard. I reviewed it myself a few month ago and just to welcome you back I thought I’d offer you a shameless plug on my thoughts 😉

  4. Yuss! This has made my month! Both the post and the fact that you returned to blogging. Steve McQueen is a fantastic director and artist – and actually became a small influence in my photography folio in a way. I adore Hunger, but I’ve only seen it once. I don’t know if I could handle it again. Shame, on the other hand, is a movie I could watch over and over again. Man, I’m weird. Mind you, you have definitely persuaded me to give it another go!

    • Hunger is a film I prefer to Shame, but only by a whisker. It is one of the 20 best films I’ve ever seen. Definitely give it another shot.

  5. Nice to see you blogging again, this looks like a really interesting watch.

  6. barbara viotto

    Steve McQueen is my best director, but also Tetsuya Nakashima is one of my favorite….
    they are different but in the same time they are both near to perfection.

  7. I still need to watch this, as i did love Shame.

    Btw glad to see you blogging again. I need someone to inform me of obscure indie and foreign flicks 😉

  8. Excellent post! My mouth just hung open for that scene with Fassbender and the priest. One of the finest scenes in cinema, in my mind.

  9. Wow! This is one of my all-time favorite movie posts. I am on a learning curve as a film buff, and it helps tremendously to have someone break down his observations for me in such a clear and interesting way. I loved this movie for many different reasons. The way the opening scenes focused on close-up shots of the minutiae of the prison guard’s life spoke volumes . And the conversation between Bobby and the priest was unforgettable.

  10. Good to have you back. Man, I love this film. The framing and everything else. Steve McQueen is a a true genius.

  11. Wonderful post! Love the cinematography, and Fassbender is excellent. Welcome back!

  12. Glad to see you’re doing okay. Welcome back.

  13. Blood powerful. Great dissection. Hope you might consider a similar one for Shame!

  14. You’re alive!

    When I first saw this, I really liked it but something was holding me back from loving it. It was after I saw Shame when I realized what it was: I was simply not familiarized with McQueen’s raw directing style beforehand. It’s very, very likely a re-watch will make my opinion of Hunger go from “really like” to “love” now that I know what McQueen is capable of.

    • Yeah, the direction can be quite startling if you’re not used to it. For me the style was somewhat of a fusion of two of my favourite directors, Michael Haneke and Béla Tarr, so I adored it immediately. Definitely recommend you rewatch it.

  15. Great to have you back in the game, brother man.

    Love this post. So cool to see a twitter discussion brought to life. And what better way to start up again than by visually detailing such a brilliant film?

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