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40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rambling narrative, unified aesthetic
No, it may not be everyone's cup of mushroom tea, but more fool them. This is the most original piece of film-making I've seen for years and I found myself so utterly gripped that when the Film4 premiere finished I immediately flipped over to Film4+1 to watch the last hour again.

While unlike anything you'll have seen before, it does evoke other distinctive and...
Published 17 months ago by DJB1968

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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tripping across the countryside.
Ben Wheatley takes a turn down the sublime and ridiculous in this twisted and darkly comic feature on the English Civil War. Offering no coherent plot strands for the first-time viewer, this is a dizzying tumble into the drug-addled, battle weary mind of war patrons fleeing and journeying across the green pastures of the English countryside on the hunt to find the beacon...
Published 17 months ago by G. Wetherall


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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pretentious, but great, 19 July 2013
By 
S. Park - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Field In England [DVD] (DVD)
Set against a backdrop of the English Civil War, this black and white offering is not your typical 17th Century period drama. In fact only the costumes and the atmospheric soundtrack places it in that era. The dialogue does indicate Old-English, but this is interspersed with modern phrases to make it purposefully less historically accurate so to appeal and be relevant to today's viewers.

After deserting the war our merry band of men are being led by the promise of ale, food and women. They settle down to feast on a broth of fresh mushrooms picked from the field they are trudging through, as expected this is where things get a little bizarre. The men observe a well crafted wooden stake and all pull on a rope to eventually reveal our fifth companion. He uses the others to find treasure in the field in a very odd tent screaming shot followed by an equally as odd, but very cinematic slow motion sequence, leading to finding the treasure which is just as peculiar. The final third of the film goes off the deep end and gives the end of 2001 a run-for-its-money.

This could be classed as a pretentious arthouse flick with the strange visuals and nonsensical script. However, it doesn't take itself too seriously, it's full of throwaway gags and toilet humour, but can then launch into graphic violence.

On another level we see that the group only succeeds when they work together, they need each other to survive. We have a mean leader who forces the others to do his bidding by punishment or the promise of something better, quite literally the downtrodden working for 'the man' . There is class-struggle to overthrow this leader and his downfall, but also the fear of running away from responsibilities and growing as an individual. Or maybe this is reading too much into it!

Either way, characters are quickly developed as each man plays a particular role in the group. The story almost seems secondary to these characters, the relationships between them and the films 'feel'. The mood is controlled by not only the score but the subtleties in each character, there is an emotional response to each on-screen presence, all credit to the actors and director for this.

This won't appeal to everyone, but if you like arty nonsense films that are, rambling, seedy, trippy and on the whole pointless, this may be for you.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brave filmmaking, 9 July 2013
By 
T. Cosens (England) - See all my reviews
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So here we are with another curio from the maverick film maker Ben Wheatley. Hot on the heels of Kill List and Sightseers comes this masterful, bizarro drama. A Field In England is hard to define. Much like his previous films it doesn't sit comfortably in one genre. Bravely transcending everything from war drama to paranoia this has to be Wheatley's most ambitious and masterful film yet.

Four English Civil War deserters find themselves in a field munching on some questionable mushrooms and hunting down some buried treasure. After locating the dastardly alchemist O'Neil they are forced to find his treasure. Mixing magic with magic mushrooms the lines between reality and hallucinations are seriously blurred.

Darkly funny with a violent streak this film is marvellously gripping. It demands to be watched. You won't always know what's going on but the characters are so well written that you hardly notice.

Kill List was a twisted horror film which missed a couple of beats. Downtown Terrace was a brilliantly subversive kitchen sink drama and Sightseers was darkly funny. A Field in England is surely Wheatley's best written film. He doesn't miss a beat and every moment is wrung for all it is worth.

The choice to film in stark black and white is bold and perfectly evokes the feeling of never really knowing what is going on. His whole direction is free and loose and it feels like he is having real fun with this.

On the whole a surprising treat. Beautifully directed, superbly written and well acted, this is his masterpiece, the pinnacle of British filmmaking. Unafraid to push boundaries and test an audience, this is evidence of maverick filmmaking at its best.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Emperor has no clothes, 15 Mar 2014
By 
Sea Monster "Carboniferous" (St. Andrews, Fife United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Field In England [DVD] (DVD)
It is not often that films are set during the English Civil War and that alone made this film interesting to me. But I am afraid that the film was a disappointment. The narrative is not so much mysterious as incoherent. Enigmas in a plot are fine but plot jumps to simply bamboozle the audience without any kind of plot development is sheer pretension. It is fine we don't find out what happened to Whitehead in the tent as we can understand the consequences but the tug of war with the stick in the ground comes out of nowhere, has no resolution and no consequences.
Things to like
1. The setting
2. Some of the camerawork
3. The conceit that this is all taking place adjoining a field where a battle is taking place which mysteriously cannot be heard a lot of the time.
4. Some of the dialogue (when it is audible)
5. Much of the acting
6. The tent scene is genuinely unsettling.

Things to (really) dislike
1. The plot (hardly any)and incoherent.
2. The editing (all over the place).
3. Pretentious psychedelia.
4. Lack of sensible motivation of the characters. You are enroute to the nearest tavern so why do you start engaging in tugs of war, boiling mushrooms (with a pot that comes out of nowhere)and hanging out with a mad and possibly violent wizard? I say possibly violent because there is a fight scene that comes out of nowhere and it is unclear who is thumping who.
5. Bad sound work. One quarter of time you cannot hear what the characters are saying.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A 'trip' into the 17th century psyche, 31 Dec 2013
By 
Huscarl (Herts, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Field In England [DVD] (DVD)
Here's a bit of film trivia to begin - this film was made in the field used as a car park for Ridley Scott's 'Robin Hood' in Farnham, Hampshire. Scott's 'Robin Hood' proved to be a major let down, this 'Field' however, has imagination in bounds.
Here's another bit of trivia - 'A Field in England' is set in Monmouthshire, which is in Wales. Although it was only officially recognised as being in Wales in 1974 and has spent much of its history in England. There's even a campaign to allow Monmouthshire to return to England.
Anyway...

'A Field in England', set in the English civil war, touches upon such issue's as Alchemy, human will, companionship, and the greater perception of the world in a time when religion and science were separating for good and the divinity of kings was being challenged in the strongest possible terms by Oliver Cromwell.

Seen from the common mans point of view, in a time period when the common man didn't get to write and record his own feelings and desires, we encounter characters which are timeless - the good natured simpleton, the man trying to better himself and the practical man's man. They quickly encounter an Irish trainee alchemist and astrologist with his mercenary sidekick in a mushroom field, cue all kinds of bizarre and disturbing weirdness!

The dialogue is superb - ''Your privy parts are doomed, homunculus'' being a personal favourite.

The black and white style works brilliantly, bringing the clothes and landscape to life in a way in which colour just wouldn't. The landscape of rural England looks great, as does the wildlife that we see gracefully going about their business.

It reminds me of Japanese film and I imagine it would be more greatly appreciated there. The focus here is on the mind, rather than cheap thrills and loud bangs. It's ultra realistic style has you feeling as if you can smell their breath.

This is one of those films which makes you, the viewer, think. People will have to come up with their own explanations for what they see on screen, including the mind-bending 'fast cut' sequence which seems to result in the watchable Reece Shearsmith disappearing into his own head! The ending is also enigmatic (looks like Whitehead has some O'Neil flesh with his mushroom soup towards the end, thereby taking his soul into his own?) and open to interpretation,

There are comparisons between the O'Neil character and Vincent Price's 'Witchfinder', if the Witchfinder came across O'Neil in his mushroom field, that would be a battle of wills! (although the 'magic' mushrooms on show do look rather like they've come from a plastic supermarket tub.)

In modern film, this is probably most palatable to those who enjoyed 'Valhalla Rising'. As can be seen from the reviews on here, it is a ''love it or hate it'' movie.

I'm of the later view, although as this is a review of the whole DVD package, I cannot give it a 5. The reason being that the extras (of which there are 70-odd minutes of interviews) don't give any insight into the greater ideas touched upon in this exploration of the 17th century English psyche. The extra interviews and directors commentary will only appeal to film-makers and those interested in film making.

If you want a challenge, or simply a trip into England's past, look no further!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Blood Meridian?, 24 Dec 2013
This review is from: A Field In England [DVD] (DVD)
As I watched this film my overarching thought was that it was based on Cormac McCarthy's 'Blood Meridian' or Jim Crace's 'Quarantine'. The characters are twisted and almost Biblical and all have a Satanic figure who appears to dominate the others with their demented authority which eventually implodes into self-destruction.

I enjoyed it very much and the flashbacks and hallucinogenic sequences are essential where such drugs are a part of the theme. It did feel at times that the magic mushrooms find was a mechanism to accelerate the story of desolate travel to its' denouement. However, it is very enjoyable and the comedy is well-paced and it is beautifully filmed.

Well worth watching.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A 'spellbinding' 'treasure' of a film., 3 Oct 2013
By 
Peter WarrenRothwell "PeteR" (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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I must admit, I couldn't get my head around a lot of this film's themes and symbols after the initial viewing on it's simultaneous cross-platform release but I was riveted by it's imagery, drama, wit, performances and even score (I became an instant Blanck Mass fan). I knew I wanted to see it (several times) again and I felt that the cinematography was so good that Blu-Ray image quality was certainly justified. The included bonus material really helps to tell the story of the making of this, at times, truly artistic work and the feature commentary, from director Ben Wheatley and members of the crew, fills in the conceptual blanks that I had as a result of not being familiar with some of the mystical alchemy / folklore background from which the tale is conjured. The final message of the film, about what we value in life, is simple enough; it's the twists and turns along its journey that fascinate. This is a bizarre, haunting and entertaining bubbling cauldron of a film, rich and considered enough to reward multiple viewings and I'm still finding new things to enjoy about it each time I see it.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Field of (surreal) Dreams, 24 Jun 2014
Ben Wheatley’s strangely static but beautifully monochrome Civil War set film, sees a small cast led by The League of Gentlemen’s Reece Shearsmith in the titular field, caught-up in Cromwell’s attempts to stabilise his new republic and wipe-out the Royalist forces. I found it tricky to fathom exactly what Wheatley was trying to achieve here, as the truncated dialogue, spurts of random activity (usually related to bodily function), and propensity for the cast members to ‘get their todgers out’ for no apparent reason, give little clue, and certainly left me none the wiser by the end. A real oddity this.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Unusual But Brilliant, 23 May 2014
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This review is from: A Field In England [DVD] (DVD)
Completely against the grain of normal British independent cinema this is a bold and daring piece of film-making. Not for everyone but very rewarding for those more used to, say, the traditions of European cinema. Quite frightening in places.
Great acting too.
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4.0 out of 5 stars bought as a present, 5 Mar 2014
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This review is from: A Field In England [DVD] (DVD)
the recipient very pleased to get it for his birthday. but I don't know anything about it. It went straight to him.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Weird and lingers in the mind, 19 Nov 2013
By 
M. B. Jennings "wwwmikejbentley" (M R James country) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Field In England [DVD] (DVD)
Although the film has been described as a horror movie, it isn't really scary in the sense of conventional rip 'em up horror, more disturbing. The early part of the film was a bit hard to follow,as the dialogue sounds rather muffled but involves an alchemist's clerk (Whitehead) who is trying to retrieve his master's papers from a character called O'Neill, who had stolen them. Whitehead is running from a battle pursued by an angry officer who is killed by a scavenging soldier who then befriends Whitehead. They meet another couple of deserters who decide that the pub is a better place to be than a battlefield and so head off to find one. On the way they stop in a field and eat a few magic mushrooms from a fairy circle, and from this point it's difficult to tell what is 'real'. They find a carved stake in the fairy circle and pull on a rope which magically appears, causing O'Neill, who may be a demon(?) to be extracted from within the circle.

O'Neill then proceeds to dominate the group and forces them to dig for a treasure which he thinks is buried in the field, using Whitehead, who is literally at the end of his tether, as a diviner.

The film has many resonances- the time in which it is set was at a point where land itself was still the major source of power and wealth, although manufacturing was beginning to burgeon. The O'Neill character uses arms to force his will on the others, who, serf-like, dig the ground as the Levellers did against the opposition of the Cavaliers and other vested interests. Superstition was still rife in those times, so a cleric, like Whitehead, could manipulate others while not possesing physical strength.

The most sympathetic character is an Essex man who comes from the bottom of the social pyramid. Whitehead is a self admitted coward who still comes across as the most civilised of the group, compared to the selfish aggression of O'Neill.

The story certainly seems disjointed and the black and white filming provides a sense of alienation and a feeling of separateness from both conventional reality and the modern day. The film has been compared to 'Stalker' which, personally I found probably the most boring film I've ever seen - certainly, I found this film to have a lot less philosophising and more interest, but that may just be me. It's also been compared to 'Witchfinder General' which had a superbly hammy Vincent Price as a villain, and while this film is set at approximately the same time period, it's a lot stranger and has a less narrative construction. Anyway, worth a view if you prefer something a little different.
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A Field In England [DVD]
A Field In England [DVD] by Ben Wheatley (DVD - 2013)
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