Blu-ray review: “The Field” (1990)

“The Field” (1990)


Running Time: 103 minutes

Written and directed by: Jim Sheridan

Featuring: Richard Harris, John Hurt, Sean Bean, Brenda Fricker, Frances Tomelty and Tom Berenger

“Bull” McCabe: “There’s another law stronger than the common law.”

Father Doran: “What’s that?”

“Bull” McCabe: “The law of the land.”

Critical Commentary

“The Field” is a 1990 drama film directed by Jim Sheridan. Set in rural Ireland, the movie stars Richard Harris, John Hurt, Sean Bean, and Brenda Fricker. It is based on John B. Keane’s play of the same name.

The story revolves around “Bull” McCabe (Richard Harris), an aging farmer who has worked and cultivated a piece of land for years. When the landowner decides to sell the field through public auction, McCabe becomes determined to own it at any cost, believing it is rightfully his. His obsession with the land escalates into a tense and dramatic conflict with an American developer (Tom Berenger) and his wife (Frances Tomelty).

“The Field” delves into themes of identity, tradition, and the lengths people are willing to go to protect what they consider their own. Richard Harris delivers a powerful performance as the stubborn and complex Bull McCabe, portraying his character’s intense attachment to the land with great conviction.

The film successfully captures the harsh and rugged beauty of the Irish countryside, providing a rich backdrop to the story. The cinematography, combined with the atmospheric soundtrack, contributes to the film’s immersive experience.

One of the strengths of “The Field” lies in its exploration of human nature, showcasing the destructive power of obsession and the tragic consequences it can bring. The clash between tradition and progress, represented by Bull McCabe and the American developer, adds depth to the narrative and raises thought-provoking questions.

“The Field” is a well-crafted drama with strong performances, particularly from Richard Harris. It offers a compelling portrayal of a man’s unwavering determination to hold onto his land and the high price he pays for it. If you appreciate character-driven films and stories set in rural landscapes, “The Field” is worth a watch.

“The Field” also explores themes of community, loyalty, and the impact of socio-economic changes on rural areas. It delves into the interconnectedness of the villagers and the dynamics of power and authority within their small community. The film highlights the contrasting attitudes towards progress and modernization, as some characters embrace change while others fiercely hold onto tradition.

The performances in “The Field” are exceptional, with Richard Harris delivering a commanding portrayal of Bull McCabe. He captures the complex layers of his character, from his unwavering determination and pride to moments of vulnerability and regret. John Hurt shines in his role as Bird O’Donnell, a sympathetic character who serves as a voice of reason and conscience amidst the escalating tensions.

The screenplay, adapted by Jim Sheridan from John B. Keane’s play, effectively conveys the claustrophobic atmosphere and the mounting pressure within the story. It skilfully explores the psychological motivations and conflicts driving the characters, allowing the audience to understand their choices, even if they are morally ambiguous.

Jim Sheridan’s direction in “The Field” showcases his ability to create an immersive and authentic setting. The film captures the harsh realities of rural life, with its vast landscapes and isolated communities, while also delving into the intimate relationships and intricate social dynamics at play.

Furthermore, the film’s exploration of Irish identity and the connection between the land and its people adds a layer of cultural depth. It touches upon the historical context of Ireland’s struggle for independence and the profound impact it had on the mindset and values of its people.

“The Field” is a thought-provoking and emotionally charged drama that explores themes of ownership, pride, and the sacrifices people make for their beliefs. It offers a compelling character study set against the backdrop of a changing rural Ireland. If you appreciate intense performances and engaging storytelling, “The Field” is a film that deserves recognition and is worth watching.

The film effectively captures the atmosphere of the play it is based on, with its stage-like quality and intense dialogue-driven scenes. The tension builds steadily throughout the narrative, creating a palpable sense of unease and anticipation.

The cinematography in “The Field” deserves commendation for its evocative portrayal of the Irish landscape. The sweeping shots of the fields, the rugged beauty of the countryside, and the changing seasons serve as visual metaphors for the emotional turmoil and struggles faced by the characters.

The supporting cast in “The Field” delivers strong performances, with Sean Bean as Tadgh McCabe, Bull’s son, providing a poignant portrayal of a conflicted and torn individual caught between loyalty to his father and his own desires. Brenda Fricker, as the long-suffering widow Maggie McCabe, brings depth and vulnerability to her role, portraying a woman torn between her love for her husband and the consequences of his actions.

The film’s exploration of the clash between traditional values and modernity is particularly relevant and resonant. It raises questions about the cost of progress and the impact it has on rural communities, as well as the importance of preserving cultural heritage and traditions.

One of the film’s standout aspects is its powerful ending, which leaves a lasting impact. Without giving away spoilers, it offers a thought-provoking resolution that forces the audience to confront the consequences of the characters’ actions and the complexities of their motivations.

Overall, “The Field” is a compelling drama that delves into themes of identity, loyalty, and the struggle for control. It boasts strong performances, a captivating story, and a beautifully realized setting. It remains a noteworthy film that explores the human condition and raises pertinent questions about the values we hold dear.

Special Features

  • 1080p High-definition presentation on Blu-ray
  • Audio commentary by film historian Scott Harrison
  • In The Shadow of the Bull: The Making of The Field – documentary
  • Director Jim Sheridan on The Field – interview featurette
  • Theatrical Trailer

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