The Field

Director: Jim Sheridan

Jim Sheridan’s second film was an epic tale of land rights and murder. The Field had initially been adapted with Ray McAnally – so wonderful as Mr Brown in My Left Foot – in mind, but the actor’s unexpected death left the role open. In stepped Richard Harris as the Bull McCabe. The rest certainly was history, with Harris thundering through a film that saw John B. Keane’s original stage play transferred from the 1960s to the 1930s and the figure of the outsider/property speculator altered from a returning British-Irish immigrant to a Yank. With echoes of Yeats’ Cuchulainn from ‘On Baile’s Strand’ and, in his final madness, King Lear, the film re-imagined the Irish past as Oedipal tragedy. Critics and audiences alike were shocked, some horrified by Sheridan’s bleak view of the West, with its mean-spirited natives and murderous patriarchs. Certainly the bucolic days of The Quiet Man were over.

Notes by Ruth Barton.

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