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  • Writer's pictureJames Rutherford

‘A Field in England’: A Hallucinatory Immersion Into Sorcery and Barbarity During the English Civil War


Movie poster for A Field in England (2013)

A Field in England (2013) is a blistering British historical horror-thriller, set in the mid-17th century, that follows a small group of deserters fleeing across the wasteland of the English Civil War. Central among the group is an alchemist's assistant named Whitehead (Reece Shearsmith), who joins soldiers Cutler (Ryan Pope), Jacob (Peter Ferdinando) and Friend (Richard Glover) in search of safe haven—only to come under the spell of a devious wizard named O'Neill (Michael Smiley).


Secretly operating as an assistant to the Wizard O'Neill, Cutler feeds hallucinogenic mushrooms to the group before conjuring his master from the Earth—O'Neill quickly asserting his authority in the search for valuable treasure buried nearby. As the men scour the surrounding field, fueled by psychedelic vigor, the narrative grows increasingly surreal as tensions mount and a power struggle emerges between Whitehead and O'Neill. Their ultimate confrontation is one of jaw-dropping spectacle, as the boundaries between reality and illusion blur, challenging their sanity as well as the very fabric of their beliefs.


Written by British screenwriter Amy Jump and directed by her husband Ben Wheatley (Kill List, Free Fire), A Field in England is a challenging yet stunningly compelling entry into the realm of avant-garde cinema. Blending historical fiction with psychedelic horror, Jump and Wheatley have crafted a unique vision of mysticism and madness through a singular experimental narrative structure. With a major lift from cinematographer Laurie Rose and her black-and-white composition, it's a mesmerizing journey into the heart of darkness that lies at the intersection of power, greed and the pursuit of the unknown.


 

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