bobby sand

youtube

Léo Ferré - Thank you Satan (by videosleoferre)

666th post.

Thank you Thatcher.

Lyrics : 

Pour la flamme que tu allumes
Au creux d’un lit pauvre ou rupin
Pour le plaisir qui s’y consume
Dans la toile ou dans le satin
Pour les enfants que tu ranimes
Au fond des dortoirs chérubins
Pour leurs pétales anonymes
Comme la rose du matin

Thank you Satan

Pour le voleur que tu recouvres
De ton chandail tendre et rouquin
Pour les portes que tu lui ouvres
Sur la tanière des rupins
Pour le condamné que tu veilles
A l’Abbaye du monte en l’air
Pour le rhum que tu lui conseilles
Et le mégot que tu lui sers

Thank you Satan

Pour les étoiles que tu sèmes
Dans le remords des assassins
Et pour ce cœur qui bat quand même
Dans la poitrine des putains
Pour les idées que tu maquilles
Dans la tête des citoyens
Pour la prise de la Bastille
Même si ça ne sert à rien

Thank you Satan

Pour le prêtre qui s’exaspère
A retrouver le doux agneau
Pour le pinard élémentaire
Qu’il prend pour du Château Margaux
Pour l’anarchiste à qui tu donnes
Les deux couleurs de ton pays
Le rouge pour naître à Barcelone
Le noir pour mourir à Paris

Thank you Satan

Pour la sépulture anonyme
Que tu fis à Monsieur Mozart
Sans croix ni rien sauf pour la frime
Un chien, croque-mort du hasard
Pour les poètes que tu glisses
Au chevet des adolescents
Quand poussent dans l’ombre complice
Des fleurs du mal de dix-sept ans

Thank you Satan

Pour le péché que tu fais naître
Au sein des plus raides vertus
Et pour l’ennui qui va paraître
Au coin des lits où tu n’es plus
Pour les ballots que tu fais paître
Dans le pré comme des moutons
Pour ton honneur à ne paraître
Jamais à la télévision

Thank you Satan

Pour tout cela et plus encor
Pour la solitude des rois
Le rire des têtes de morts
Le moyen de tourner la loi
Et qu’on ne me fasse point taire
Et que je chante pour ton bien
Dans ce monde où les muselières
Ne sont plus faites pour les chiens…

Thank you Satan !

2

May 5th 1981: Bobby Sands dies

On this day in 1981, the Irish republican activist Bobby Sands died in a Northern Ireland jail after a hunger strike. Sands, born in Belfast in 1954, joined the Republican Movement aged eighteen, and faced intimidation from loyalists in his community. He was a militant member of the movement during the Irish Troubles, and spent three years in prison for possessing firearms. In 1976, Sands was again arrested in connection to the bombing of a furniture company, and whilst the charges were flimsy and the evidence slim, Sands was sentenced to fourteen years in prison. It was while he was in prison that Sands became a famous figure in Ireland and in Britain, for his defiance of the prison system and confrontation of authorities. On March 1st 1981, Sands led nine other Provisional IRA prisoners - who considered themselves prisoners of war - on a hunger strike, demanding prison reforms like the right to wear their own clothes, and right to refuse prison work. Sands refused to end his strike until they gave into his requests, and during the first seventeen days of the strike lost sixteen pounds. His actions made him a nationalist hero and, while he was still on hunger strike, Sands was elected as a Sinn Fein Member of Parliament for Fermanagh and South Tyrone. Sands’s health rapidly deteriorated, and just a few days after slipping into a coma, he died on May 5th 1981 aged twenty-seven; Bobby Sands had refused to eat for sixty-six days. He was not the last to die from hunger strike, and several other nationalists also died in similar conditions. His death prompted widespread rioting and over 100,000 people attended his funeral. While a controversial figure, Sands remains a hero to many Irish republicans, and his stoic determination has inspired countless political dissidents around the world.

“They have nothing in their whole imperial arsenal that can break the spirit of one Irishman who doesn’t want to be broken“

[Spoiler Alert]

Steve McQueen became known due to his extreme sensibility and sharpness when representing through cinema certain aspects of the human condition. His first film, Hunger, starring Michael Fassbender as Bobby Sands, was released in 2008 and tries to bring to the spectator a wide view of the story behind the Hunger Strikes of 1981 that took place in Maze Prison during the period of The Troubles, in Ireland. The accuracy of the film is very evident, since you can depict several references and an overview of the conflicts that led to the protests in there represented, but it was the feature’s crude and raw outlook what impressed most people.

The approximately first ten minutes of the film offer us a perspective of a man who is, even though we don’t know that at first, a guard of the Maze Prison. What we get from the initial moments is just an insight of the morning routine of this man. Everything seems normal until he steps out of the door of his house and walks towards his car. He looks down the street, and then below his car before he enters, and his wife is on the window watching it happening. There is a close-up shot of the moment he starts the ignition and when he pulls off his wife seems relieved. There is a plainness that lingers both in the way he eats his breakfast and in the way he is checking out the street. His wife’s expression is the most obvious sign of some kind of fear. What these first scenes try and in fact are able to do, is show the paranoiac but justified climate in which officers from the Maze Prison lived at the time. The guards were forced to beat up the non-cooperative prisoners, to give them baths or haircuts forcibly too. A scene with an outsider police force emphasises the brutality inflicted to those men. Violence is one of the most cold-hearted aspects of this film and we are given an incredibly vast amount of scenes with blood and beatings.

It is rather obvious that a lot of references used in the film are taken from passages of Bobby Sands’ Prison Diary. When starting the fasting, Sands also engaged in the writing of a record of the first seventeen days of the hunger strike. Being a direct statement (and, therefore, contribution) from Sands himself, the diary became a precious primary source in the understanding of his ideas when starting the protest. Trivial things such as the fact that the prisoners smoked paper rather than cigarettes, used to get notes from outside the prison, or even the importance of family in Sands’ life are stuff McQueen picked up and used in the film to enrich its record.

The scene with the priest, being one of the longest shots in the history of cinema, is of extreme importance. Bobby Sands tells a childhood story about how he had to kill a little foal for the animal’s own sake and what we may call best interest, because none of the boys that were with him had the guts to do it. By doing so, Bobby not only assumed a role of leadership, but also took the blame and paid the consequences of it. The idea of him as a figure of leadership is reinforced with this analogy for the state of the situation he was living at the time. The story about his willingness to sacrifice himself for something bigger than him works as an explanation on initiating a second hunger strike (since there was a first one that failed its purposes) and dying for that cause.

The birds that appear in several scenes are very revealing since these animals are usually associated with freedom, the ultimate desire of Bobby Sands, which might explain his constant return to them (another reference to the diary, where Sands frequently mentions birds).

All the small details and references based on the materialisation of historical occurrences nourish and garnish the film, making Steve McQueen’s effort to represent the events of the Hunger Strike of 1981 a well-accomplished record of the brutality of the situation. The feature, regardless all its artistic aspects, reports accurately and faithfully a visual recollection of what happened in Ireland during one of its most problematic times. This film’s significance surpasses its own purposes as a work of art, becoming an utterly complete memoir. “Hunger” is a word that not only remits to what happened, but also expresses a deeper meaning. I believe that this title was chosen in the attempt to reflect a profound hunger, that of the person as a human being, of a living thing that can fight and pursuit what it believes in. Bobby Sands indeed died of hunger, but not just a physically possible-to-end one; his hunger was so sunken in his creeds, in his so eager desire of freedom, that he was willing to starve for it.