When the legal owner of a plot of land in Ireland has plans to sell it to a developer, the local renter and the villagers team with an American to prevent it. — Genre: Feature Film-Drama — Rating: PG13 — Release Date: 26-FEB-... more »2002
The Field is a short course in Irish history and culture.
Russell Fanelli | Longmeadow, MA USA | 11/18/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In order to understand Jim Sheridan's fine film, The Field, based on the play by the same name by J.B. Keane, it is useful to know some of the Irish history that relates directly to this tragic story.
A little less than 800 years ago the English first came to Ireland and initiated a slow but steady conquest of the island and people. By the 19th century the catholic Irish had lost most of their land and their freedom to the protestant English. The great Irish statesman Daniel O'Connell made modest progress in winning some liberty for the Irish catholics in the early part of the 19th century. Unfortunately, the Great Famine, which began in 1845 and lasted until 1848, killed a million or more Irish people who were dependent on the potato, which suffered from a disastrous blight. Two million more people fled the island to foreign shores, America being one preferred destination. A population of approximately eight million people was reduced by about 36%. The Irish never forgave the English for allowing this great tragedy to occur. The ill effects of this disaster lasted well into the 20th century.
In the film The Field, "The Bull" McCabe (Richard Harris), a tenant farmer in a small town in southwestern Ireland, mentions the famine and its after effects several times to justify his right to buy the field that he and his family have given their love and labor for generations. The English woman who owns the field has put her property up for auction and an American, Tom Berrenger, appears ready to outbid McCabe for the field. McCabe will not permit what he perceives to be a miscarriage of justice.
Against him are the American and his ally, the local parish priest. McCabe does his best to reason with these men and explain why he feels he has a right to the field. McCabe mentions the Great Famine and the sacrifice his family made to remain in Ireland to rebuild a devastated society. This field represented not only McCabe's life, but life for his posterity. The priest and the "Yank" are unmoved by his arguments so McCabe takes the law into his own hands with disastrous consequences for him, his wife, and his son.
This fine film gives us a chance to learn much about the Irish people and their culture. The importance of the land, the power of religion, the hatred of the English, the poverty of the people, and the loss of Irish youth to emigration are just of few of the themes touched on as the story develops.
The Field was made in Ireland and the beauty of the land is everywhere evident, in stark contrast to the meanness of the lives of the people who live there. We don't need to be Irish to be moved by the desperation of McCabe and people like him trying to eke out a living by their unremmiting labor.
The Field is less an entertainment and more an education for those people wanting to gain some insight into the lives of the Irish farmers living in the first half of the 20th Century. I have watched this film several times with great interest as well as appreciation for Jim Sheridan's fine work. Highly recommended."
Excellent, gripping, and SO depressing.
skunktrain | So. California, USA | 12/03/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Richard Harris is absolutely outstanding in this film. No wonder he got an Oscar nomination. This film about pride and struggle keeps you rivited from beginning to end. And a sad, frantic, tragic end it is.Sean Bean plays Harris's son, and he is very effective as a somewhat dimwitted fellow who is cowed by his powerful and stubborn father. Brenda Fricker (as Bean's mom and Harris's wife) is fine too. And John Hurt plays an amusing gap-toothed buddy with great humor! He was a particular favorite.Tom Berenger as "The American" gives a fine performance as well (he did a good "East Coast" accent), but it's unfortunate that his character's motivations in buying the field are not more clearly defined--it would have helped explain more of the plot. Beautiful scenery, and a great score by Elmer Bernstein add much to this film as well! However, closed captions definitely were needed in this movie. The accents are too thick for American ears. (Except for Berenger's accent, of course!) I don't understand why this film was not subtitled or closed-captioned. Not only do the hearing impaired need the captioning, anyone who has trouble with the thick accents will need it too. What gives?An excellent film. Depressing and dramatic, but it keeps you thinking after the film is over. Richard Harris is *amazing*. What a treat to see him shine in such a way."
A masterful movie on every level !!
Christian B. Martin | Alexandria, VA | 10/03/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"First of all, do not rent or buy this brilliantly photographed film until it is released in a widescreen / letterbox version. Period. Not only has it been "edited to fit your screen," this Pioneer Video edition is so fuzzy, it looks as if it was transferred from a bootleg VHS tape.Second, PLEASE ignore the reviews below in which the reviewer (a) couldn't understand the dialogue "because the Irish accents are way too thick" and therefore only understood the scenes with Tom Berenger as the Yank; (b) is a clown more concerned about possible animal abuse than filmmaking ("many animals were harmed and drugged for this movie -- got this info from a non-profit web site !"); or (c) thinks "Prince of the City" was a five star movie like Mostafa Hefny does (no kidding folks -- check out his other reviews)."The Field" is a masterful movie on every level: story, directing, acting, photography. If for no other reason, see it for Richard Harris' performance as the Bull McCabe. It is simply one of the finest acting performances ever filmed -- a "tour de force" as the cliche goes. But remember, wait till a proper widescreen / letterbox edition becomes available."
Fertile Ground Rich With Irish History
R. DelParto | Virginia Beach, VA USA | 08/07/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Based on the play by John B. Keane, Director Jim Sheridan presents a gripping tale that is rich with Irish tradition and history in the film THE FIELD. Legendary actor, Richard Harris (Bull McCabe) plays a stubborn farmer who treasures the land he has cultivated, and forcefully and close to manically guards the land when he finds out that an American or as Bull refers to him, "Yank", played by Tom Berenger, suddenly appears to buy the land from the original landowner, Maggie Butler (Frances Tomelty); all tensions ensue.
THE FIELD brazens the Irish past, which includes its religious, social and class struggles and the unfortunate Irish famine. These issues come crashing down as the film plot thickens especially during the climax. The story revolves around Bull McCabe, a man who has carried the guilt and bitterness of the past, the death of one of his sons, Shamus, and his present burdens that exist with his only son, Tadgh (Sean Bean), who along with his cohort Bird O'Donnell played by John Hurt, exert unkind and child-like deeds toward Butler forcing her to sell her land.
The entire of production of the film is outstanding. Director of photography, Jack Conroy captures the beautiful mountainous and seashore landscape, which complement each dramatic scene. Jim Sheridan and Steve Morrison do a fine job in adapting Keane's play to film, and the story and its characters come alive with their production.
THE FIELD is tremendously moving. It starts out a little slow in the beginning, but it is the last hour that is both disturbing and powerful. Richard Harris received an Oscar nomination for best actor, and deservingly, by watching the film he is worthy of that distinction.
An interesting speculation
Pitti-Sing | Titipu, Japan | 11/14/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"For English 2, I was asked to write an essay on a modern film or play demonstrating a classic tragedy. After analyzing such Shakespeare and Sophocles, I thought I would never find a modern movie with the same characteristics. And then I remembered "The Field." I had watched it before simply because Sean Bean played in it, and I didn't get much out of it. The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized that it was a classical tragedy. I watched it once again and wrote my essay, and it has become one of my favorite films.
The protagonist of a tragedy must have a downfall of free will. Like Hamlet, like King Lear, like Oedipus, we see Bull McCabe, the protagonist of "The Field," find his downfall in the very thing he loves. His love for the field, his desire for his son to follow in his footsteps, and his hatred for the intruding American forces him from natural love to unnatural obsession, and off the brink of sanity. The acting is incredible. Bull McCabe is portrayed believably and tastefully by Richard Harris as the torn father, while Sean Bean, in the bloom of his younger years, plays a misanthropic and sulking son, searching to find his own identity.
If you are looking for an interesting and emotional experience, do not hesitate to try this film. "