Field Notes

Further documentation from the Alchemical Landscape event: Evie Salmon's introductory text.
Many thanks to her for contributing this post. Check out Evie's website and twitter feed


A Field in England was released this year using a special multi-platform approach: it was simultaneously released to cinemas, on DVD, on television and as a digital download. Much of the publicity suggested that it was something of a breakout, if not debut film for Wheatley but he’s actually been building up a firm reputation as an innovative film-maker for some years. In fact, one could argue that A Field in England is intended as something of a prequel in Wheatley’s unofficial ‘landscape’ trilogy; it places itself in curious synchronicity with his tourist / serial killer comedy Sightseers (2012) and his folk-horror hit man movie Kill List (2011).

Each of these films share a pre-occupation with the British countryside and its various uncanny, if not occult resonances. Wheatley draws much of his influence from a rich cultural miasma of late sixties and early seventies TV and film, strange music and obscure regional traditions. His ‘universe’, as it were, is one in which the rural landscape blurs with the particular imaginative landscape of post-war Britain: a potentially unstable mix of heritage and folk revivalism refracted through the lens of modernist community projects.

Taken as a countercultural text A Field in England draws on the 1960s implications of this term with its concern with hallucinogenics and its visual nods to Nicolas Roeg’s cinematography à la Performance (1970). The central image of the field also literalises this term somewhat. This is a film about the warping potentialities of the earth, the ground and the land; it looks at the ability of the landscape to cultivate subversive chthonic energies. In this respect it forms a key part of what could be termed a certain geographic turn in recent film, music and art. That which could be termed the contemporary counterculture is in the large part marked by a revival of interest in T.C. Lethbridge, environmental activism and site specific ambience as evidenced by the work of artists including Julian Cope, Alison Gill and English Heretic.

A Field in England  - with its weird spaces, its magicians and its magic mushrooms - is offered here as both a map and extension of this particular cultural turn.

---Evie Salmon 

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