If you don't know the background the opening of the film will leave you wondering. Naked prisoners huddle in blankets on the floors of their cells. Later we're shown what caused this situation.
In 1981, Northern Ireland was at the height of the 'Troubles' and British prisons were full of IRA members. These IRA prisoners saw themselves as paramilitaries and their actions as acts of war against British occupation of the northern territories. The British government (and the guards) saw the prisoners as criminals and treated them as such. One of the prisoners, Bobby Sands, was passionate about getting proper recognition or 'political status' as he called it and rallied the others. They tried a 'no wash' protest and refused to wear prison uniforms. This resulted in the guards issuing them blankets and taking away their cots.
Then they tried a hunger strike. The first was Bobby who lasted a miraculous sixty-six days. Others followed in tandem. Seven months and ten men passed yet the British did not concede. See also: Some Mother's Son another film about the hunger strike.
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Director Steve McQueen
Writer Enda Walsh
Cast Michael Fassbender,