The Field (1990)

The Field (1990)
7.4
  • 5628
  • PG-13
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release year: 1990 ()
  • Running time: 107 min
  • Original Title: The Field
  • Voted: 5628

"Bull" McCabe's family has farmed a field for generations, sacrificing endlessly for the sake of the land, and when the widow, who owns the field, decides to sell the field in a public auction, McCabe knows that he must own it. But while no one in the village would dare bid against him, an American with deep pockets decides that he needs the field to build a highway. The Bull and his son decide to convince the American to give up bidding on the field, but things go horribly wrong.

#PersonCharacters
1Richard Harris'Bull' McCabe
2John HurtBird' O'Donnell
3Sean BeanTadgh McCabe
4Frances TomeltyWidow
  • Richard Harris - Incredible!!! by 9

    If you are interested in acting, do yourself a favor - see this movie. Richard Harris' performance is as good as film acting gets. His character, Bull McCabe, is not a man so much as a force of nature. In the opening sequence, he and his son, Tadgh, who is 30ish to Bull's sixty-something, are carrying heavy loads of seaweed from the ocean back to their farm. Bull casually strolls along, seemingly without effort, while Tadgh struggles and stops periodically to rest. This scene sets the tone for the rest of the story. No one in the village ever opposes Bull - it would be futile, as well as unwise. But when the land his family has tended for generations as tenant farmers is purchased by an American bent on developing it, Bull must confront something he cannot defeat with will and sinew - progress.

    "The Field" is a study of a very specific time and place, with plot developments that seem lifted straight out of the Old Testament. Sheridan does an excellent job of opening up the story, which was adapted from a stage play. The action takes place all over the village and surrounding areas. The cast is composed of Irish and English actors (except for - ahem - 'The American'), which really gives the film a strong sense of authenticity. Each character has a story, and the gradual unfolding of the various conflicts and secrets builds an ominous sense of impending disaster.

    John Hurt gives another in a long line of outstanding performances, but this film belongs to Harris. The only thing that keeps it from becoming an all-time classic is Tom Berenger. We get no sense that he wants the field for any reason other than the script requires him to, and it seems that director Jim Sheridan knew it. When a central character (Berenger) in a film delivers his most important dialogue FACING AWAY FROM THE CAMERA (looking out a window), it is the directorial equivalent of punting. Even so, Berenger is not in enough scenes to ruin the movie. It is just that it could have been so much better if he brought something to the part that could match up with Harris' primal force.

  • A rich adaption of an Irish stage classic by 7

    John B. Keane's critically acclaimed play The Field, is the one play that 90% of the population of Ireland will know. They will either know the plot or have studied it for state exams. My own grandmother is 80 years of age and she dislikes any kind of media and theater describing them as pure noise. But when she hears that The Field is playing she will instantly take an interest not because of it's fame but the themes that are produced in this play are very important to her and her generation and many generation that followed her up until the late 1980's when Ireland slowly began to change into a European union state, with it Irelands ethnic identity began to disappear. We may still have the accent but our lifestyles and attitudes are very different in some cases evidently for the better, but more often then not for the worst. In the early 90's two films documented the Ireland of old, these were The Commitments a joyous look at young Irish people using their musical talents to broaden their horizons and The Field an unforgiving bleak look at the life of a headstrong farmer whose life begins to falter when a stranger arrives in his village. Arrival of the stranger symbolizing change. A change that could disrupt the harmonious existence of life in the little village long after this stranger has gone.

    Bull McCabe is a poor Irish farmer that works a rented field. This Field represents everything that has happened in the Bulls life. His families blood is soaked in the field. He rents it from a local Irish Widow who the Field belonged to her late husband. All the Bull wants now is to own this precious land. He has worked this field for many years. He brings seaweed from the coast line every day and plants it on the grass to enhance it's fertility giving it the freshest looking grass. To look at the Bulls special field we know that it takes years to attain that result and what's more any dereliction in maintaining the field will result in the field acquiring the same unfertile status as the surrounding land. When The Bull speaks about the field there is no pride but it is replaced by a nostalgic tone. His nostalgic tones also produce a chilling portrait of a man who is willing to stop at nothing to protect the field that is dear to him. When the actions of his son lead to the widow selling the Bulls precious field at public auction. The Bull comes face to face with losing his field to an American.

    Jim Sheridan's direction is magnificent and his script (totally unlike the stage version) is also brilliant. Playing the Bull is legendary thespian Richard Harris whose fiery temperament and personal beliefs match that of The Bull. Harris's reputation of being difficult and uncompromising attitude nearly cost him role. A role that was originally going to the late great Ray McNally who unfortunately died before filming commenced. Today I cannot imagine The Bull being played by anyone other than Richard Harris. His portrayal of The Bull McCabe is that of being a brutally uncompromising farmer. A farmer despite his evident aggression had vision and respect for the earth he walked on. A farmer who would kill for you if it was needed or kill you if the tables were reversed. For me personally this is Harris's best role because with every word and action on screen I see that Harris is truly immersed in the role of the Bull.

    Sheridan is in my opinion is Irelands Best Director. He uses the theme of the relationships between Irish father and son in all his films. In this film we learn about a stubborn man whose materialistic desires and expectations of his surviving son lead to horrible catastrophic results that affect the a community. The son in this film is Tadgh who is played Sean Bean. Unfortunately with all Sheridans films the supporting cast who are always very strong are overshadowed by one performance. In this film Bean is very under rated. His portrayal of Tadgh is that of a loner who is uncomfortable with the expectations of his father The Bull. These expectations lead him to develop an eagerness to please his father and lift of some of the burden that these expectations place on his own life. Also in the cast is excellent Tom Berenger who portrays an eager yank whose only hope is for his ancestors town land to prosper with his investment in the Bulls field. Berenger's yank character is very similar to that of Tadgh. He has returned not only to see his ancestors home place prosper but he too is doing it to please his families expectations back in America. Both men are determined to succeed in their respective duties. Berenger captures exactly what we Irish dislike about Irish American's coming to Ireland and that is their naive approach to a country they know very little about. A mistake that Berenger's character makes with his airs and graces.

    As an Irish Film The Field is the best by a long shot. The script is good, the cast are excellent but most importantly it succeeds in drawing you into it but the strength of the story alone. It has not been bestowed the same commercial success as Sheridans other films for one reason. This reason is that the film contains a lot of Irish traits such as attitudes to strangers, the churches stance on suicide and many hidden references to Irish History. To me personally this is not a fault of the film, but a fault of peoples ignorance to ethnic film makers who want to tell stories from their ethnic back ground. All together a very fine film full of very fine performances. 10 out of 10

  • "Thin Veneer of Christianity" by 7

    A powerful film.

    The story of an Irishman fighting to own and protect the land he and his family transformed from rock-strewn waste to verdant pasture from foreign encroachment and development.

    I won't recap the story line because it's so complex, but some thoughts occurred to me as I watched:

    Bull McCabe perfectly symbolizes the heathen heart of Europe, untamed by Christianity (symbolized by the pasty-faced priest) or crass capitalism (symbolized by the bland Yank). Note how Bull carries a staff and wears cloak-like outfits throughout the film, looking very much like a Pagan high priest. He is, at heart, a savage who will cast off the artificial chains of foreign religions and phony social mores to defend one of the most primal concerns of man: territory.

    The priest pointedly notes at one point that the people in this rocky Irish village are covered with only a "thin veneer of Christianity," implying that their paganistic racial memory runs too deep and strong to be ignored. And only a few scenes later is the first, bloody climax of the film when that "thin veneer" is ripped off.

    An excellent film which deserved more praise than it got and should not be missed if the chance to see it arises.

  • Stunning and unforgettable by 9

    I had never heard of The Field before, and I could hardly believe how good it is. What a shame that it is so little known. The story starts out slowly but builds up to a climax that is perfectly logical, totally based on character, and awesome in its intensity.

    The script is superb, particularly in that use of language at which the best Irish writers are unsurpassed. But the real strength of the movie lies in the amazing performance of Richard Harris, surely one of the all-time great movie performances. He should easily have won the Oscar over Jeremy Irons in Reversal of Fortune, brilliant though Irons is; perhaps Irons only won because too few people had seen The Field. Bull McCabe is a great character who is being torn apart by conflicting emotions: his love for the land, his love for his son, his love for God and for the Church, and his frustration at never being able to achieve what is important to him. His devastation at the end reminded me a lot of King Lear, and indeed this movie has a power like one of the best of Shakespeare's tragedies. As one reviewer has already noted, the only weakness is the poorly-sketched character of the American and its lack of a believable motivation. Even with that weakness, it rises far above most of what passes for serious drama these days.

  • A much overlooked classic by 9

    The Field is film which carries a universal message about the ongoing struggle between modernity and traditionalism. It is also a uniquely Irish film which may make some of the scenes lack relevance for an international audience. The meaning of such scenes as the "American Wake", which was essentially a death wake which was held for young Irish people up until as recently as the 1960s on the night before they left for America never to be seen again, might be missed by non-Irish people. However the final scene where the Bull McCabe aka Richard Harris attempts to push back the incoming Atlantic tide speaks of the universal futility of man's attempts to control nature or indeed, inevitable progress.An excellent movie.

#PersonCrew
1Jack Conroycinematographer
2Elmer Bernsteincomposer
3Jim Sheridandirector
4J. Patrick Duffnereditor
5Noel Pearsonproducer
6John B. Keanewriter