Hunger, by contrast, was made in Northern Ireland for the very people who grew up with the ‘troubles’. It’s made to make sense to these people especially but people across the British Isles also.
It was made by Film Four with the intention of making money. Film Four have their offices in central London, near Victoria. Mel Gibson's production company also contributed. Last time I checked, Steve McQueen isn't from Northern Ireland, either.
should we not concede that filmmakers can, and sometimes should, make films for local audiences eventhough non-locals will have difficulty understanding them?
This is deeply patronising. Firstly, I don't think there's any intimation that either myself or most others in this thread failed to understand the film. Secondly, as I just mentioned, the film was intended to make money and, as such, is directly targeting a US audience, who tend to be inherently Irish Republican-leaning in their sympathies - precisely because they are so distanced from the actuality of events!
Seeing how most Americans respond to Islamic or Marxist 'terrorism', this is quite an amusing contradiction. Honestly, Hunger
fits right in there with Gibson's The Patriot
is another example of Film Four (your employers?) targeting the US.
Or, in other words, what you actually mean is that the film appeals to a certain contingent in Northern Ireland who hold strong Irish Republican views. So what?
I would say the point of the film is to deny this very question - to deny all political questions. Asking who did what first has been a feature of Anglo-Irish relations for centuries and in Northern Ireland it’s a time-bomb question that no film could ever address adequately. Such questions might be resolved in a generalised film narrative but the target audience here would find the outcome fairly dubious if not inflammatory.
The film presents Anglo-Unionist atrocity in great detail and at great length and, yet, presents very little IRA violence: only the killing of the 'evil' guard - in reciprocation for his actions in the prison, no less. Therefore, without any greater contextualisation, within the world that Hunger
creates, this question has indeed been answered (and in a simplistic / disingenuous manner).
McQueen presents the cyclical nature of conflict: how violence begets violence, and hate begets more hate. This isn’t presented to the viewer as a didactic argument but as a visceral deduction. I appreciate that might sound facile but that simple point is usually subsumed by political interests. This is why I think the dichotomies are so effective: the guilt ridden guard lives in fear of his life and unleashes his frustration on the prisoners. He is murdered by the IRA, which authenticates his fear and violence and that of his colleagues. Similarly, Sands resents his non-political status within the prison. The beatings he endures increases this resentment and authenticates, for the IRA, the shooting of guards. The film also postulates the inevitable trajectory between naive youths (the new inmate & young guard) and the hardened violent mind-sets of their elder colleagues.
But this simply isn't interesting. Further, the way in which McQueen attempts to make this point is crass and unconvincing (eg. the diopter shot of the beating / crying guard).
There is no character development becuase all the men are cogs in the tit-for-tat rationalisation of the wider conflict.
I'm not necessarily looking for the characters to develop, however, given McQueen's intimate approach, I would still like them to be realised with some degree of complexity and rationality (instead of the ridiculous, over-intellectual haigography and sentimentality that he in fact indulges in).
To see the idea you are suggesting above realised with genuine success and artistry, I would suggest you watch Jancso's The Round Up
Also, while the structure is very basic, I think it allowed Walsh and McQueen to subtly introduce very complex matters like the relations between an urban and rural northerner, between the politics in London and the circumstances in Northern Ireland, and between loyalist paramilitaries and the prison system (The sight of the UDA nurse was frightening.)
So the UDA nurse is frightening and Sands is a martyr - hardly 'complex'... At least you are acknowledging Walsh's ideological input to the proceedings (the writer of the, er, 'wonderful' Disco Pigs
I’d love to know what “genuine auteur filmmaking is about”.
I've answered this already. A filmmaker who is willing to invest his (or her) self fully in the material, to bare his feelings and his soul, to convey a convincing and holistic philosphy and outlook (regardless of what that outlook may be). This is what one gets from Bresson, Dreyer, Godard, Antonioni, Greenaway, etc. In a word: CONVICTION.
Not, as is the case here, taking someone else's soapbox, someone else's politics (Walshes) and then sitting outside the entire affair with 'cool detachment'*, painting pretty pictures, literally, in shit. Of course, this attitude stems in general from the UK modern art scene - yet another reason not to support the cinematic annointing of yet another Turner bore.**
* 'cool detachment' has come to be taken as a positive term, ever since it was applied to Kubrick. However, Kubrick's work is driven by a very sharp and finely delineated personal philosophy, of which this presumed detachment is part and parcel (in simplistic terms, he seeks to highlight the 'smallness' of human affairs in the cosmic scheme). I would add that, of Kubrick's later work, A Clockwork Orange
is by far the least successful, precisely because there is a conflict between Kubrick's position and the Catholicism of Anthony Burgess that proves impossible to reconcile.
** I must admit, I found Douglas Gordon's Zidane
to be incredibly striking and worthwhile, on completely different terms from the ones I am describing above - but then that film functions, to a degree, on the level of artistic documentary, not so far away from Herzog's ecstatic truth. It is crucial that Zidane himself is a complex and inherently engaging individual (imagine the same film starring David Beckham...) - unlike the cartoon martyr-ideologue that Fassbender portrays in Hunger