â€œI think I’ve worked out what God is punishing us forâ€¦everything.â€
A Field In England is an audacious, somewhat mysterious black and white ultra low budget foray into the 17th century English civil war. It’s pastoral psychedelia, set entirely in a country field, where in the heat of battle a band of disparate characters stumble shell shocked and battered into a moment of unexpected respite. So in true English fashion they decide to go for a beer.
It’s the work of Ben Wheatley (Killshot/ Sightseers) who somehow manages to create a distinctly English 1960′ psychedelic feel with a rich vein of absurdist humour, referencing both alchemy and magik, as well as the surrealistic paranoia and impending violence of an out of control drug trip. To create many of the distended half blurred disconcerting images he used and manipulated cheap plastic lenses bought for $100 off the Internet.
There’ a darkness here, quite a sinister feel, a certain ill-defined brutality underlying the period brogue, so the moments of comic relief whilst welcome, doubly serve to make the viewer increasingly uneasy. There’ a trajectory here like all drug-induced films and despite its strange tangential nature, you don’ doubt for a moment that we’re heading towards an inevitable darkness.
The trajectory for the music contributes to this, beginning initially with regimental percussion, the kind you could imagine appearing alongside the battle, before taking on a baroque folk quality. Composer Jim Williams (Minder) is operating in a more tactile analogue world here in keeping with the expectations of the period.
But in a moment all this changes.
Blanck Mass is the electronic solo project of Benjamin John Power from the Fuck Buttons, and his piece Chernobyl appears during possibly the most disturbing scene in the film, the bleak euphoric drones being used as a signifier of occult power and divine madness. It’s here that the darkness is unleashed, the magic, the hallucinatory power and the film kicks up a gear.
William’ score changes too, developing a more electronic quality, bringing fuzzy electric guitar into compositions that were previously acoustic and ultimately descending into electronic drones as the action on screen becomes increasingly fractured, violent and surreal.
Then of course there’ the films stargate moment, a remarkable segment that will have even the most hardy strobe viewer in epileptic spasms of confused ecstasy. This scene in particular demonstrates the sheer audacity of Wheatley’ vision. To put it simply people don’ make films like this anymore. But they should.