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36 of 38 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 12 months ago by DJB1968

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12 of 13 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 12 months ago by G. Wetherall


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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rambling narrative, unified aesthetic, 10 July 2013
This review is from: A Field In England [DVD] (DVD)
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 ground-breaking films you probably know - lots of British cult and art-house cinema for sure (including Lindsay Anderson's If) but also influences from much further (ahem) afield. Something in the interplay of cinematography and score brings Leone/Morricone to mind in places. There are visual cues, too, that surely reference the Hollywood western while maintaining a strikingly British feel (for example in its lunatic humour and its commendable preoccupation with pubs).

And if there's a lack of coherence (hallucinogenic experiences - in reality or representation - aren't exactly renowned for strong linear narrative) then there's an aesthetic unity to this film that marks it out as something special. That unity is also strongly felt in the score, the trailers on Youtube and on the Rook Films website, and the poster and other artwork (something tells me that poster will be plastering student accommodation up and down the land very soon).

Very highly recommended if you've a taste for off-beat, British, hallucinatory, sometimes violent, sometimes dementedly funny English Civil War films set in fields. And very highly recommended if you haven't. Like mushroom soup, what harm could it possibly do?
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tripping across the countryside., 28 July 2013
This review is from: A Field In England [DVD] (DVD)
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 of solace that is an ale house. En route, they are hi-jacked by two mercenaries and forced to look for treasure that might be buried within the field.

Amy Jump and Ben Wheatley have written this feature but it is less a success of its writing than a triumph of visual technique/s. It is exquisitely and beautifully shot in monochrome. As matters unfold you become more and more convinced that you are in the presence of a virtuoso within his field (pun not intended). This is Wheatley's extravagant dalliance into the realms of the psychedelic, inspiring awe with his control of the medium. Some of the images are genuinely disturbing. In one scene, a man emerges from a tent with a rope around his neck and proceeds to walk out in slow motion. It has to be seen to be believed. It is ineffably haunting.

This is not an easy film and it will certainly not be everyone's cup of tea. It is extremely difficult to pin down and its narrative arc is not probably worth too much close analysis. If you're a David Lynch fan, and appreciate something along the surrealistic lines of Inland Empire (2006) or Blue Velvet (1986) you will surely appreciate the work done here. I imagine it is likely to be a tiring experience for everyone else though, so the characters in this film might not be the only ones looking for an ale house after proceedings fade to black.
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40 of 45 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pscyhedelic Occult Horror That's Not For All Tastes, 7 July 2013
This review is from: A Field In England [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Let me start by saying that this movie is not for all tastes: It meanders like one of its shroom-addled characters throughout, giving little to aid the viewer in discerning the story and its mix of entheogens and occultism will soar quite happily over the heads of most people. Kill List, this is not.

If I had to compare A Field In England to anything it would be movies like El Topo or Holy Mountain: Dense, symbolism-rich movies that reward patient and repeat viewers with deeper meaning. Unlike those movies, however, AFIE is a dark and brooding experience filled with frightening imagery and paranoia. It may not be a film to watch whilst experiencing an altered state yourself.

The acting in the movie whilst not outstanding certainly bears relation to its occult horror forebears of the 60s and 70s - Films such as The Witchfinder General and Blood on Satan's Claw - hammy but not buttock-clenchingly so. I must state that Michael Smiley was fantastic, garbed in cape and hat and wielding a flintlock pistol, he exuded menace and bad-assery throughout, a perfect counterpoint to Reese Sheersmith's performance as a sniveling, cowardly scholar.

The soundtrack is fantastic, an ominous mix of traditional folk, simple drum rhythm and dark ambient that aids in the drug-fueled paranoia motif that carries the movie from start to finish.

In conclusion then. This is not a film for everyone. It is vague, challenging and mystic, and that will no doubt alienate most. But if you have a penchant for occult horror, psychedelic cinema or movies that you can peel back layer by layer then I'd reccommend A Field In England gladly.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not a fungi to be around.., 18 Sep 2013
By 
Arch Stanton (Cornwall, England.) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Field In England [DVD] (DVD)
Four men fatigued through their endeavours during the English Civil War meet on the edge of a field. They decide to join forces and desert the surrounding carnage, after one of the four speaks of a nearby inn, they set off through the field in search of rest and comfort. However, as they cross the field, they reach a carved wooden post wound with rope and it turns out that one of the party hasn't been exactly truthful and requires their help in 'dragging in' whatever is on the other end of the line. Which turns out to be a rather bad idea...

Wheatley concocts a visual and audio feast of weird happenings in black and white, as the cast take mushrooms and are forced into going on an alchemical, existential discovery, of meta~physical treasure hunting, and an awakening of the diabolical.
From all concerned in the cast and crew there seems to be both good and bad in equal measure, and as the tale unfolds, delivering us both the sublime and the ridiculous, one at times is left wondering just what nefarious path this film might be leading us down, with it's unsettling and offbeat ideas...
But for those used to enjoying a more conventional method of storytelling may not like what they see. As the viewer is bombarded by what could easily be perceived as a pretentious load of old claptrap, from a director trying to show us how clever he is, by using every 'trippy' little trick he has in his arsenal.
Personally I didn't think that, even though it by no means fulfilled the earliest expectations I had of it (my fault!), from when I originally heard of it's concept. Fortunately (or not) I opted to watch this whilst I was under the influence, and happily went along with all the strobings and kaleidoscopic madness it had to offer.
In the end the whole thing works like a bad joke, but had some really good moments. It is grotesque, amusing and also annoying, if for no other reason than having reeled this reviewer in like a fish, looking as I was, for the hidden meanings and metaphor in every dark corner, when ultimately I suspect it is, just what it is. Which although will annoy the hell out of some, will no doubt impress others. Especially if they are open to, or wish to see something less mainstream; as whether you consider this pretentious or not, at least Wheatley has attempted something that does not fit with today's lazy obsession with film making by numbers just to make a profit!

I found myself being reminded of a Robert E. Howard short horror story I read years ago, I think it was called 'The Thing On The Roof', and also of Valhalla Rising, which If I'm honest I certainly preferred on a first viewing.
I will watch this again soon, so I can appraise it properly for myself. Only next time, I'll try to be more a little more sober!

4/5.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Curiously Weird And Mystical, 8 July 2013
By 
Keith M - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: A Field In England [DVD] (DVD)
This latest (2013) offering from British film-maker Ben Wheatley adopted the 'multi-platform' (cinema, DVD, TV) simultaneous release approach, on the basis (presumably the researchers/accountants have done their sums correctly) that this will attract the largest viewing audience (and presumably provide the best commercial returns). Certainly, A Field In England (even more so than Wheatley's previous films) is about as far as you can get from today's multiplex fare, providing an oddly eccentric and mystical take on the (intimate) goings-on of a group of English Civil War renegades, located in (yes, you've guessed it) a field in England. More so than any of Wheatley's films to date, A Field In England is lighter on narrative and heavier (arguably too heavy) on symbolism, but what it lacks in plot coherence it (nearly) makes up for in its haunting, moody and (frequently) spectacular black-and-white look and feel (courtesy of DoP Laurie Rose).

Although the milieu is, on the surface, miles away from the modern settings of the earlier films, many of Wheatley's distinctive traits remain - a claustrophobic, intimate and wordy set-up for his battle-clad protagonists; dynamic, hand-held camerawork, slickly edited; (many) bouts of darkly humorous dialogue and (some) bursts of bloody violence; and (more so than before) opaque plot points and increased symbolism. For me, this certainly does not add up to an unqualified success. On the negative side, the lack of anything resembling a coherent plot is (for me) a significant issue. Similarly, whilst Amy Jump's script is frequently 'period authentic' and very funny, the mix of 'Olde Englishe' and more modern vernacular sometimes does not gel. On the positive side, however, Wheatley's cast is very good, particularly Reece Shearsmith's 'aristocratic assistant' Whitehead, whose talk of alchemy and astrology plays up the film's mystical feel, whilst Michael Smiley's impressive turn as O'Neill, in effect Whitehead's nemesis, provides a staring-eyed devil incarnate, encapsulating a parallel sense of menace. Jump's script is peppered with little comic gems, such as when, slurping their rudimentary lunch from a bowl, Peter Ferdinando's Jacob quips, 'There's no stoat in there, is there?'.

My overall feeling on the film is that, on balance, it probably would (ordinarily) only warrant a three star rating, but I'm inclined to four stars, first, because of the film's innovative approach (albeit typical of this film-maker) to mixing humour and its darker themes and, second, because of its stunning visual sense. A combination of these two elements is summed up in the amazing slo-mo sequence (for me, the highpoint of the film) of Whitehead emerging (following a hidden, apparent bout of torture) from a tent, being held on a leash by O'Neill, accompanied by another haunting Jim Williams musical theme - this is cinema at its most powerfully mesmerising.

In my book, Wheatley is one of the most interesting British directors around at the moment, and even if he is 'only' destined to make a series of 'cult', probably commercially modest, films (I detect senses in A Field Of England of the likes of Aguirre, Wrath of God, The Wicker Man, Witchfinder General, etc), then I (for one) would say good luck to him.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fry your mind, 21 April 2014
By 
Triple_Sod89 (Lancashire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Field In England [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
I was anticipating this film eagerly since watching Wheatley's Kill List. That film blew my mind and gave me hope for the future of British horror cinema. A Field In England is a wholly different experience, similar themes persist and so does a deadpan wit but Wheatley and writer Amy Jump have created here an even less compromising masterpiece.

Beautiful stark cinematography; editing which comforts with a sedate pace at the outset only to gradually fracture into nightmare along with the soundtrack; acting which moves, terrifies, angers, amuses (Reece Shearsmith is a revelation as always, one scene in particular recalled his ability to terrify, otherwise seen in his work with the League but here taken to new heights). I can't think of an element of this film that didn't add to the overall effect.

Wheatley wears his cinematic influences on his sleeve: the credit sequence with it's earthy crawl through the undergrowth and tribal drumming recalls Onibaba, Friends' folk song interlude brought The Wicker Man to mind, the menacing synths and the self-contained set felt like a nod to John Carpenter, and if you've seen it you'll probably also notice more than a slight absorbtion of the spectacle on show in 2001: A Space Odyssey. All these seem to go into a primordial (shroom) soup and emerge as something truly Jump and Wheatley's own.

Can't help but think a lot of Jump/Wheatley's influences here were also literary. I don't know if Wheatley is a fan of Peter Ackroyd but his exploration of the British landscape and it's creeping influence on the psyche seems to compliment the themes of A Field In England (and also, to a degree, Kill List and Sightseers). It also doesn't surprise me to see Wheatley is adapting High Rise and is a self-confessed fan of JG. Ballard: the breakdown of the characters in this film and their gradual inhumanity under extreme circumstances brought that author to this viewers' mind.
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30 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars WTF did I just watch?, 6 July 2013
By 
Cartimand (Hampshire, UK.) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: A Field In England [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Somewhere between Shrooms and Witchfinder General, with perhaps a soupcon of The Wicker Man, lies this extremely strange movie.

Shot in bleak, grainy black and white, in a muddy field on Farnham Common (just a few miles from my home), it all looks quite magnificent. Within the first few minutes of admiring the Sealed Knot costumes though, I realised I would have to abandon all hope of anything resembling a conventional narrative. It soon becomes a delirious interplay between the motley crew of thuggish, mysterious, comical, enigmatic, greedy, foolish and very human characters. People break into song. Others just want to go down the pub. There are occult elements and some earthy scatological humour but, above all, an ethereal, dreamlike quality and a wonderfully teasing sense of fun throughout.

Certainly one of the most original films I've seen in a very long time. I'm not sure I entirely 'got it' on this first viewing and it is sure to attract some criticism for being overly enigmatic at times, but I did find it utterly compelling and want to watch it again very soon.

A high probability of becoming a future cult classic!

(Review is of the Film 4 premier screening of A Field in England on 5th July, 2013).
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A meadow in Monmouthshire, 19 Sep 2013
This review is from: A Field In England [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
The ghost of Winstanley, a micro-budget classic of English Civil War cinema, hangs over Ben Wheatley's latest Anglo-nightmare. A gaggle of 17th century stragglers find themselves in the titular field. Their enemy is O'Neill (Kill List's Michael Smiley), who has them digging for treasure that may not exist. Minds fracture, skulls fracture, and all the while there's an "ill planet" bearing down on mushroom-munching astrologer Whitehead (The League of Gentlemen's Reece Shearsmith).

A Field in England hangs together on the strength of its novelty. It feels rich with symbolism and portent, even if it doesn't come to much. It's about as visceral a movie experience it is possible to have on a budget of about 3.75. It may even become a cult classic in the vein of other "Weird England" movies like Witchfinder General and its period ilk. But for me it lacks the thematic clarity of something like, say, seminal hippy oddity The Wicker Man, which was a very relevant cautionary tale in the context of its era. A Field will more likely be remembered for its groundbreaking release: home video, VOD, cinema and television, all at once.

There are some very funny scenes in the film, such as when Whitehead attempts to explain astrology to his perplexed idiot colleague (Richard Glover). There are also some vividly strange scenes: the sight of Whitehead shambling from O'Neill's tent, eyes rolled back in his head, while the searing chords of Blanck Mass fill our ears, is uniquely unsettling. And there's even the semblance of a coherent plot holding everything together.

However, I felt that the film was not quite enough of anything. Not comic enough, not creepy enough, not compelling enough, and not weird enough. Murmurings of friendship amongst the men suggest there's a more serious and more moving version of Amy Jump's script to be filmed. What we have instead is a well-acted series of intense, amusing and fractured vignettes, worth experiencing at least once.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Elemental, my dear Wheatley..., 13 July 2013
By 
Mac (Lanark, Scotland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Field In England [DVD] (DVD)
Unlike some of the other reviews, I am going to make this brief. It has been a LONG time since I have found myself so obsessed with a film. Like an art Aktion, it stares right into your soul and demands a response. I feel sorry for people who don't feel its power, for you are missing out on an elemental experience! One final thought. Whitehead. A tent. A rope. A facial expression. Slow motion shot. Burned into my retina and brain. Reece Shearsmith? Immense! Thank you, Ben Wheatley.
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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
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Field In England [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
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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A Field In England [Blu-ray]
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