Legendary long-take in Steve McQueens 2008 "Hunger"

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      Film director Steve McQueen became a lot more well known when his last film "12 Years A Slave" took home the Oscar for Best Picture this past year, and deservedly so. His first two films, "Shame" (2011) and "Hunger" (2008), are equally good yet deal with two less glamorous subjects in sex addiction and IRA political prisoners 35 years ago, respectively. All three of McQueen's films star Michael Fassbender who is engrossing, entertaining, and electric in all three films. He has also appeared in "300"(2007), "Prometheus" (2012) and as the younger Magneto in "X-Men: 1st Class" (2011) and "X-Men: Days of Future Past" (2014). 

     Like Orson Welles and Alfred Hitchcock, Steve McQueen pushes the limits in his cinema. The comparison here is derived from McQueen's 23 minute scene, including one opening take in that scene of approximately 17 minutes (!!), in which actors Michael Fassbender (as IRA prisoner Bobby Sands) and Liam Cunningham (as Father Moran) trade snappy dialogue with each other. I knew I was watching something special after several minutes. The camera barely moves as these two professionals totally engulf the viewer's attention. The immediate comparisons I thought of were the nearly 4 minute opening scene of Orson Welles' "Touch of Evil" (1958) and Alfred Hitchock's "Rope" (1948) which used 11 10-minute 35mm reels or 11 10-minute takes. These latter two are obvious masters of the craft who used every element of the cinematic process to illustrate their stories and through his first three films, Steve McQueen is starting to wear some large cinematic shoes himself. "Hunger" is one of the best films I've seen and although it won't make you feel warm and fuzzy and touches on the subject of something religious forces tend to do way too often (violence and war), it is well worth a viewing. A fascinating follow-up article to this scene is an interview with the two actors involved and their process leading up to this magnificent scene in Hot Splice.

About the author


Baxter Martin has a B.A. in Cinema Studies from American University. Historian and scholar of international & American cinemas. Baxter Martin is contributing to Film Annex by researching silent films and other classics that should have a greater audience in the film world. Baxter is also an adviser for the…

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