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A Field In England [DVD]
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Fleeing from a battle in the English Civil War a small group of deserters are captured by an Alchemist and forced to aid him in his search for treasure he believes is buried in a nearby field. Crossing a vast mushroom circle, which provides their first meal the group quickly descends into a chaos of arguments, fighting and paranoia; and, as it becomes clear that the treasure may be something other than gold, they slowly become victim to the terrifying energies trapped inside the field. A psychedelic trip into magic and madness featuring Reece Shearsmith (The League of Gentlemen) and Michael Smiley (Kill List).
- Audio Commentary with Ben Wheatley, Andy Starke & Martin Pavey
- Interview with Ben Wheatley
- The Edit
- The Practice Of Magic: Visual Effects
- If Thoul't Be Silent: Recording the Sound
- The World Of The Field: Location
- Cinematography: The Look Of The Film
- Only Shadows: Acting
- Scoring the Field: Music
- Camera Tests Reel
Try and pin down director Ben Wheatley at your peril. His gritty debut, Down Terrace was followed by, in Kill List, a superb mix of horror, comedy and thriller that wasn't afraid to change tone as and when required. Then there was Sightseers, his acclaimed, shocking comedy horror. A Field In England is a slightly smaller production in scale than his last films at least, but in terms of its ambition, it continues to reflect one of Britain's most interesting contemporary filmmakers.
A Field In England is set in the midst of the English Civil War, following a quartet of deserters. Said group soon fall under the influence of a thief, played by Michael Smiley, and the search begins for buried treasure. Wheatley, however, has more ingredients here, not least the introduction of some particularly potent mushrooms, that soon begin to affect the adventures of his characters, and the direction of the film. It ends up an utterly unpredictable, bold piece of cinema, that's frequently funny, very British and, at its best, downright brilliant. And, as always, Wheatley makes sure that the DVD doesn't skimp on interesting extra features too.
Boasting terrific performances from the likes of Michael Smicer, Reece Shearsmith, Julian Barratt and Peter Ferdinando, A Field In England is a treat of a film, and as far as Ben Wheatley's directorial career stands, makes him firmly four from four. He's a major talent, who's continuing to get better.. --Jon Foster
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Top Customer Reviews
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?
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.
It’s the English Civil War and Whitehead (Reece Shearsmith) flees his abusive employer and meets a small group of deserting soldiers. Then into their mix enters violent O’Neil (Michael Smiley), and things become stranger from then on. O’Neil want something, and only Whitehead knows how to get it for him. So what does he want and how will he force Whitehead to get it?
The best place to start when discussing the film’s merits is with scriptwriter Amy Jump. Like one of her many other impressive scripts Kill List (2011), Jump takes a well-trodden genre film and turns it upside down. Rising to Ezra Pound’s call to arms, “Make it new!”, Jump does just that. So easy would it be to fall into a clichéd sodden hole, yet she’s penned a text that couldn’t be further from hackneyed. Her characters’ language sound natural in the actors’ mouths, yet has the ambience of olden times. It slightly reminded me of Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange (1962). She writes one liners that land as well as any comic could wish for. The Essex jokes are hilarious!
This is Wheatley’s most accomplished direction of his tremendous body of work. From the opening scene to the last moments he upholds a brooding sense that something terrible is just around the next tree. He creates a collective shiver down the audiences’ spines with nothing more than wind whipping across dry grass. Cinematography by Laurie Rose, who often works with Wheatley, is beautifully stark. It looks not so much black and white, say as Michael Curtiz’s Casablanca (1942) does, but has a greenish tint like those old photographs from when photography began. Jim Williams’s music of beating war drums and eerie “Greensleeves”-like melodies add to the sense of doom.
I recommend this film to anyone who wants to watch something different.
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 its 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 its 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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
loved the photography and grim b&w imagery but so disappointed in the stagey posed bits (the freeze frames). Read morePublished 1 month ago by sean cutter
Unknown people doing unbelievably good acting. Great stuff. And a great plot, tooPublished 5 months ago by Jim Hyde
Like the website this is a comprehensive guide to the making of a film. The film is ok too.Published 6 months ago by Thomas Beale
19 1-star reviews!! God, you guys are limited!
A stunning film. A Field in England and everything filmed in a field in England. Read more
I have no idea what this film was about and struggle to see why anyone would give it more than one star! Don't waste your time.Published 9 months ago by Miss S E Breen
The more I watch this film the more I see in it. Rare for anything to be set in the time of the English (! Read morePublished 10 months ago by Mike Gray
bloody awful in some respects, quite clever in others, shame not more was said about the historical setting, left it all a bit nonsensical - will never eat mushrooms again.Published 10 months ago by Katrina Riche