The Field

Last Update: 27 Feb 2003
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The place and time: Ireland, 1939. Memories of the great potato famine (1845-49) still persist, as do the country's feudal farming practices. Richard Harris is Bull McCabe, a patriarchal tenant farmer with a ferocious temper and an obsession with the field he has rented for most of his life from a wealthy widow (Frances Tomelty). After years of backbreaking toil, McCabe has transformed the field from three acres of rocky wasteland into a lush green pasture. But when the widow decides to put the property up for auction without considering his work, an outraged McCabe is determined to buy it at all costs.

Unfortunately, there is another interested party, an American (Tom Berenger) whose plans for the field include paving it over to provide access to the limestone-rich hills beyond.

Further complicating Bull's troubles are his slow-witted son Tadgh (Sean Bean), who to his father's dismay shows no inclination towards making anything of a life for himself; and McCabe's wife Maggie (Brenda Fricker), to whom Bull has not spoken a single word since the suicide death of their other son twenty years earlier.

When Tadgh falls in love with a rough gypsy girl (Jenny Conroy), Bull is outraged, since the girl and her culture represent everything that is abhorrent to him. The gypsies are a displaced people who don't care about the land - and to Bull, the land - and his field - means stability, ownership and family tradition.

Bull's constant companion, the simple minded Bird O'Donnell (John Hurt) tries to warn him of the consequences of his obsession with both the field and his quest to make a man out of Tadgh, but his advice goes unheeded, with ultimately tragic consequences.

Based on the play by John B. Keane, The Field was writer-director Jim Sheridan's follow-up to My Left Foot, and focuses, as did the story of Christy Brown, on the strength of human will in the face of overwhelming adversity. Ray McAnally, who played the father in My Left Foot, was being considered for the role of Bull McCabe at the time of his death in 1989. Richard Harris's performance won him an Oscar nomination, his first since 1963's This Sporting Life.

The Field opened in Dublin on 21 Sept 1990 and debuted in North America in March 1991.

Thanks to Tanya for the scan

Location Notes:

With a budget of £5 million, filming on The Field began on 02 October 1989 and lasted for eight weeks.

The Field was shot almost entirely in the Connemara village of Leenane, overshadowed by the wet and misty mountains of Connemara and Mayo.

The pub scenes in the film were shot in Gaynor's, one of three bars which serve this tiny one-street village.

Bull's House was a spartan stone cottage, subsequently inhabited by sheep, just beyond the village on the road to Clifden.

The Field itself was a little patch of bright green, enclosed by a dry stone dyke, beneath the dark Partry mountains. It was located about six miles outside Leenane on the right-hand side of the road to Westport, beside a little bridge.

The scene of the climactic fight between Bull and his son, and the American, was shot a few miles from Leenane at Aasleagh Falls, on the Erriff river.

Additional footage was created in Dublin's Ardmore Studios.

(From On Location - The Film Fan's Guide to Britain & Ireland by Brian Pendreigh)




Richard Harris
John Hurt
Tom Berenger
Sean Bean
Frances Tomelty
Brenda Fricker
Jenny Conroy
Sean McGinley
John Cowley

Bull McCabe
Bird O'Donnell
The American
Tadgh McCabe
Tinker Girl
Father Doran




Production Design
Art Direction
MPAA Rating
Running time
Release Date

Noel Pearson for Granada Film
Released by Avenue Pictures, 1990

Jim Sheridan
Jim Sheridan
Based on the play by John B. Keane

Jack Conroy
J. Patrick Duffner
Frank Conway
Frank Hallinan Flood
107 minutes (1990)
21 Sep 1990 (Dublin)
March 1991 (US)

Click here for a larger version of this Irish 32-penny stamp released October 17, 1996 to honor the 100th anniversary of the first film screening in Ireland.

 Click here for The Field's Press Archives.


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