A Field in England

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Ever wondered what the English Civil War might have been like on shrooms? Wonder no more for Ben Wheatley’s ‘A Field in England’ will show you.

This curious, genre-bending film featuring Reese Shearsmith of ‘League of Gentlemen’ and ‘Psychoville’ fame, is one of the most original and unusual of the year.

For a start the film is shot in black and white, not perhaps the most obvious choice for a film centered around a piece of England’s green and pleasant land.

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Then there’s the fact that despite it being an English Civil War Drama we never see a battle only hear it. The small group of men we focus on are a group of deserters who are led to the mysterious Irishman O’Neill a diabolic figure intent on using magic and the cowardly Whitehead, played by Shearsmith, to find hidden treasure in the field.

In order to gain control over the group O’Neill’s man Jacob feeds them magic mushroom soup.

Wheatley proceeds to have a lot of fun with this, allowing it to inform the narrative and the visual style, which becomes increasingly psychedelic and far out.

This might have appeared a little clichéd were it not for the fact it’s taking place in the English Civil War. In this context it becomes almost revolutionary.

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In the end the film doesn’t quite make it to classic status. This is partly because it takes risks, some of which come off, some of which don’t but it is still a film I would be happy to watch again and am sure will take on cult status in the coming years.

It’s also a fine example of what you can do with very little money and a great deal of imagination.

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