Based on the true story of the 1981 hunger strike in a British prison, in which IRA prisoner Bobby Sands led a protest against the treatment of IRA prisoners as criminals rather than as ... See full summary »
An important story muddled with gratuitous bigotry
The movie purports to tell the story of Bobby Sands, a North Irish Catholic who was tortured and abused by British forces, and died in a hunger strike. That much is historical fact and stated at the beginning of the film, so the plot and ending have no surprises. It's an important story that deserves better treatment than this movie provides, despite the best intentions of the director. The story is laden with heavy-handed religious imagery comparing Bobby Sands to John the Baptist, and the prison warden to Herod. The Warden with a hook nose and long, stringy hair comes off as a very insulting Jewish stereotype. There is also a scene where he is sexually involved with one of the guards who offers to get for him another guard, making the villain a homophobic stereotype as well as an anti-Semitic caricature.
One positive aspect of the film is that the brutal violence in the prison is only shown "around the edges," not graphically exploited as it would likely be in an American production, but made just clear enough to know that the prisoners suffered horribly. It's a nice bit of subtlety in an otherwise bigoted and cack-handed effort of religious allegory.
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