Representation can be described as the production of meaning through language, used by the composer to convey different perspectives on certain aspects of human nature. Therefore, as representations are obscure opinions, whether of the composer or characters within the text, then by their very nature, they will create conflicting perspectives. The film Hunger, directed by Steve McQueen, perfectly exemplifies this understanding, as it uses representations to explore the differing opinions of loyalists and republicans in 1981 war-torn Ireland. The film’s protagonist Bobby Sands, stages a hunger strike during his confinement in Maze prison, and he sarcastically describes the whole situation as “differences of opinion”. McQueen is able to represent various perspectives by applying numerous visual devices, balanced with minimal linguistic features.
The film can be logically divided into 3 parts, each with their own pace, mood and atmosphere. The first part of the film represents individuals within the loyalist and republican groups by showing both their violent and peaceful qualities. This part has very little dialogue and is heavily reliant on editing. In the opening scene, a pedantic prison officer, Lohan, is having breakfast with his wife, the atmosphere is very tense enhanced by the absence of dialogue, and there is also a shot of breadcrumb’s falling on his lap, suggesting that his life is slowly falling apart. A close-up camera shot is used to emphasize this point. Later, Lohan visits his mother in a nursing home, where a loyalist assassinates him, demonstrating the republicans’ brutal violence. In another scene the director Steve McQueen uses a split screen to demonstrate both the republicans brutality and calm qualities and the loyalist pacifism. On one side the loyalist prison officers are beating a helpless Sands, whilst on the other side another officer is sobbing, obviously disturbed by the cruelties of his job. McQueen also relevantly imbeds fragments...
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