The Field: A Story of Greed, Power, & Redemption

The Field

The Field is a 1990 Irish drama film directed by Jim Sheridan and based on the play of the same name by John B. Keane. The film stars Richard Harris, John Hurt, Sean Bean, and Brenda Fricker, and was shot on location in the west of Ireland. The Field tells the story of a farmer, Bull McCabe, who will stop at nothing to protect his land and his family’s future.

The Plot

The film is set in rural Ireland in the 1930s and revolves around a piece of land known as the “field.” The field has been leased to Bull McCabe (Richard Harris) for several years, but the widow who owns it decides to sell it to an American developer (Tom Berenger). Bull becomes obsessed with keeping the land and will do anything to prevent the sale, even if it means resorting to violence.

The Characters

Bull McCabe is the central character in The Field, and Richard Harris gives a powerful performance as the farmer. McCabe is a proud and stubborn man who has worked the land his whole life and sees it as his birthright. He is determined to keep the field, no matter what the cost, and his obsession leads him down a dangerous path.

The American developer, Kieran Flynn (Tom Berenger), is the antagonist of the film. He represents the modern world encroaching on the traditional way of life in rural Ireland. Flynn is determined to buy the land and turn it into a tourist attraction, but he underestimates the emotional attachment the locals have to the field.

The supporting cast is equally impressive, with John Hurt playing the village drunk, Bird O’Donnell, and Sean Bean as Tadgh, a young man who works for Bull and becomes caught up in his boss’s obsession. Brenda Fricker gives a standout performance as Bull’s long-suffering wife, Maggie.


The Field is a story about the conflict between tradition and modernity, between the old ways of rural Ireland and the forces of progress and change. Bull McCabe represents the old ways, the traditions and customs that have been passed down through generations, while Kieran Flynn represents the new, the future, and the unknown.

The film also explores themes of greed, power, and redemption. Bull’s obsession with the field is driven by his desire for power and control, and his willingness to use violence to achieve his goals. But in the end, he is forced to confront the consequences of his actions and seeks redemption for his sins.


The Field is beautifully shot on location in the west of Ireland, and the stunning landscapes and rugged terrain are an integral part of the film’s visual language. The cinematography captures the beauty and harshness of rural life, from the misty mornings on the bog to the hard, manual labor of farming.

The film’s use of light and shadow is particularly effective, with scenes often bathed in a warm, golden glow that contrasts with the darker, more ominous tones of the story. The camera work is also notable, with slow, deliberate movements that convey a sense of the weight of history and tradition.


The Field’s haunting soundtrack, composed by Elmer Bernstein, perfectly captures the film’s themes of loss, redemption, and the struggle between tradition and modernity. The score is a mix of traditional Irish music and original compositions, and it adds an emotional depth to the film’s already powerful storytelling.

The Field is a masterful film that explores the complex themes of tradition and modernity, greed and power, and redemption and forgiveness. Richard Harris gives a tour-de-force performance as Bull McCabe, and the supporting cast is equally impressive. The film’s stunning cinematography and haunting soundtrack elevate the story

Last updated April 12, 2023.

About the Author

Dave Donnelly
Meet Dave Donnelly, a passionate Irishman with an insatiable love for music, TV, fishing, and exploring the stunning countryside of Ireland. A native of the Emerald Isle, Dave has an inherent appreciation for the rich cultural traditions and natural beauty of his homeland.