Bobby Sands: 66 Days review – insight into a desperate man
A contentious subject – the role of , and of hunger strikes in general, in the Irish republican movement – is approached with intelligence and restraint in this thorough and well-researched documentary. Director combines authoritative analysis of the philosophical and political impact of Sands’s death with a visual component that is more daringly unpredictable: sometimes poetic, sometimes impressionistic images are juxtaposed against the words of Sands and the voices of interviewees. The use of archive material – stills and clips of Northern Ireland are blended and overlaid with other, more esoteric images – is adventurous and manages to evoke a broader sense of both the tensions, and of the quotidian daily life of the period.
While acknowledging that the republican movement had a tendency to elevate, almost sanctify, the memories of those who died in its name, the film attempts to flesh out Sands as a man. It’s a sympathetic portrait, certainly. But this film is no empty hagiography. It’s an insight into the thoughts of desperate, violent men – something which is just as relevant now as it was then.