The Field. Paul Cox’s Golden Braid. Bonfire ofthe Vanities plus reviews of HighlanderZ. Quigley

Down Under. and Mr and Mrs Bridge.


Hurtto the Mick

The new film from the makers ofMy Left Foot looks set to reap almost equal praise. Mark Kermode met John Hurt. who co-stars in The Field as a shabby Irish shepherd, a role with its own special demands.

Two years ago. director Jim Sheridan and producer Noel Pearson scored a triumphant hit with My Left Foot. a moving account ofthe life of (‘hristy Brown which won a clutch of international awards. With their latest production The Field. Sheridan and Pearson have once again garnered international acclaim. Adapted from the play by John B. Keane. The Field teams Left Footco-star

Brenda Fricker with luminaries John Hurt and Richard Harris. who have earned BAF'I‘A and

Academy Award nominations for their roles. Taking centre stage (in a role originally intended

. for the late Ray McAnally) is Harris. whose ; overbearing 'Bull‘ McCabe is a latterday Lear. a

tragic anti-hero whose impassioned struggle to

' gain control of the field in question brings about a

terrible consequence. 'Richard was fantastic to work with when he wasn‘t arguing with the director.‘ laughs co-star John Hurt who plays The

. Bull‘s twisted sidekick. ‘The Bird‘. A disreputable ; loner. the Bird was a taxing role indeed for the

methodical Hurt. who went so far as to have the

caps ripped from his teeth to achieve an

authentically ragged look. ‘My dentist says that a cap is a cross between a piece ofjewellery and a piece ofsculpture. and here am I smashing it up. It

5 makes me feel like a vandal! So I‘ve promised him

that I won‘t do it again. but whether I‘ll keep that promise I don‘t know. I did it once before for 1984 where it served as a marvellous image for a man falling to pieces.‘

Despite the assertions of Sheridan and Harris that The Field presents a powerful metaphor for the troubles in Northern Ireland. Hurt views the film‘s political subtexts rather differently. ‘I don‘t think The Field is overtly political.‘ he asserts. ‘I think you do see reflections ofcertain areas of political conflict. but I don‘t think it addresses any particular ethic. and certainly not party politics. Ofcourse. it‘s quite possible that Jim sees the politics as more important. I have no doubt that he could point out to me why it is political and I‘d say it.‘ Well aware of the dangers ofportraying The Bird as a stagnant ‘bog-Irish‘ creation (‘You mean

“Oh yes. I see.“ but that‘s not the way I respond to i

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“Rentapeasant”?‘) Hurt nevertheless confesses a fondness for grand theatricality. a quality which has caused some to criticise his role in The Field as somewhat over-the-top. ‘I like playing exaggerated parts.‘ he admits candidly. ‘I‘m not particularly interested in playing regular guys. For one thing. I don‘t think they exist. not under the searchlights anyway. Secondly. I think they‘re dramatically boring. Look at all the drama from Greek tragedy onwards: you couldn‘t say that King Lear or Hamlet were regular guys. Let me give you another example. In A Man ForAll Seasons I played a character called Rich. and someone spat at me in the street because they thought the character was a despicable traitor. Yet the way I thought of that part was that he wasn‘t that dissimilar to any ambitious young man that you might find in the back rows ofour own government. On stage or on the screen. the audience has the privilege of seeing what they would not ordinarily see and therefore things can be exposed.

Since finishing The Field. Hurt has not been idle.

I 5 ' I“?

n. . i

The Field opens at the Odeons Glasgow and Edinburgh on Fri 12 April. i

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John Hurt plays the rascally Bird in The Field

He plays a supporting role in King Ralph. the recently released American comedy decried by the British tabloids as a tasteless attack on royalty (though Hurt describes it as ‘far too silly to be shocking’). And another— more promising— project. Lapse ofMemory is also in the can. A French/Canadian production. it stars Hurt as an investigative journalist who is forced to adopt a new identity when his life becomes endangered by his work. Currently residing in Ireland with his wife and child. Hurt meanwhile remains characteristically sceptical about Hollywood. ‘I‘ve never felt completely comfortable there but I can‘t really blame Hollywood for that. The films I‘ve made there have all had their problems. Admittedly. some have been slightly better than others. but the films that I‘ve most enjoyed have

not been in Hollywood. I‘m sure there could have been a film that I would have immensely enjoyed making there . . . it just hasn‘t happened yet!‘

The List 5 l8 April 199115