This pack contains a photocopiable Student's Guide and a Teacher's Commentary

In the Student's Guide the film is segmented into units of 10-15 minutes duration. This facilitates work in the normal class period. There is a series of questions for each sequence that guides the viewing of the students and encourage them to keep a personal Response Journal.

The Teacher's Commentary is a well researched separate booklet which covers issues raised in the guide.

Each pack is priced @ € 40.00, postage free. Titles are shipped on receipt of payment. Delivery is by Standard Post: next-day delivery in Ireland, and 2-10 days for international orders.

Extract from Teacher's Commentary​

Let the film roll until the Tinker says "They killed your father’s donkey"

The film opens with a shot of the dawn rising over a mountain. An uileann pipes plays on the soundtrack. Two men appear on the right of the screen hauling a loaded cart over the mountainside. The pipe theme fades and ominous base notes follow. One man is between the shafts of the cart where you would expect to see a draught animal. The other pushes the cart. Medium shots of the two reveal an older and a younger man - Tadhg and Bull. Bull nods to Tadhg. He is the leader.

The second scene shows the men in another activity involving loads - and Bull is portrayed as the stronger of the two. He helps Tadhg to pick up his loaded basket. The camera angle frames him leading and/or above Tadhg on the climb over the mountain. The musical theme that plays during this scene will become associated with the eponymous field. They move upwards, through the mist, over the rocky terrain to an old ruin.

The ruin might be an old church or, possibly, Bull’s ancestral home. He kneels devoutly within its walls as Tadhg tumbles in, tired out from the exertion. We do not know why Bull is praying here. As the film develops, we will get more and more information on his notion of religion and God. We will find that he has not much regard for the organised religion of the local curate. His religion is more ancient and elemental than Christianity, and it is rooted in devotion to the land.

Eventually, coming down the mountain, Tadhg takes the lead and runs, to the delight of Bull. "God made the world and seaweed made that field, boy!" is Bull’s first comment, as they gaze down on the field, which stands out from its surroundings in its greenness. The pipe theme sounds once more, as he says these words. He uses the dandelion to show Tadhg the importance of attachment to the land. Being scattered and rootless is a theme that he will refer to again and again in the film. As Tadhg questions Bull about the Widow, we catch a glimpse of her looking timidly out a window, from behind a curtain. Bull finds it easy to understand the importance of the land in a man’s life but difficult to comprehend the workings of the mind of women - the field is worth fighting for, and the motivations of the Widow are glibly dismissed.

Bull calls to the Widow to pay his rent on the field. He treats her with kindness and courtesy, and enquires after her ‘anniversary’. He offers to buy the field to get Tadhg settled. She seems easy, if slightly withdrawn, with him, but a curious look comes over her face as he walks away. We follow her gaze to Tadhg, and she seems to shudder as she looks at him.

At home, Bull eats ravenously in silence. Maggie, his wife, gazes at a photograph of herself and two young children. Bull takes a moment to observe her gazing absently at the picture, and then gets on with the business of clearing his plate. This is the first reference to their other son, Séamaí. We will find out more about his story, as the film progresses. Although dead, his memory has a powerful hold over the surviving members of his family.

Bird scurries down a slope to the sound of howling. It is night-time, and the light catches his face, revealing sharp features and bad teeth. With eyes darting from side to side, he grins menacingly and laughs maniacally as Tadhg terrorises the Widow. These actions represent Tadhg’s misplaced efforts to get the field for his father.

The Widow walks into town to the strident music of the pipes. Her gaze is fixed and she disregards the Tinkers by the roadside. The locals are photographed in a tracking shot from the Widow’s point of view, as they glance at her from behind carts and animals. They appear surprised, or at least suspicious of her presence. No words of greeting meet her until Flanagan says "I can’t serve you drink at this hour." A series of reaction shots shows how surprised Bird and the locals are at her declaration that she is putting the field up for sale. Some speak up for Bull. There is a sense of respect for what Bull has done for the property, and an acknowledgement that it is his by dint of this effort.

Bird refers to the "big stallion donkey" that trespassed on the field, and this reminds the audience of the action of the film’s opening scene and rounds off the action of its first sequence.

The orchestral theme that plays as Bird cycles away is jovial and Irish in character, reminiscent of the ‘stage-Oirish’ films of previous generations. The jolly, pint-swilling Irishmen at the door of Flanagan’s pub add to this stereotyped representation of the locals.

Katie impishly pretends to block Bird’s escape. In the final scene of his sequence she leads her father, unconscious with drink, from the village, and the Tinker who chased Bird from the bar warns her of the trouble in store now that the word of what happened to her father’s donkey is out. She has no time for this preoccupation with vengeance for the dead donkey. She seems wild and carefree.

Extract from Student's Guide: 

Let the film roll until the Tinker says "They killed your father's donkey"

Describe the first scene in the film. What kind of music is playing on the soundtrack? What instrument is playing? Is there anything unusual in the way the cart is being brought up the mountain? What are the two men doing as the titles roll? How would you describe the relationship between them, based on the first two scenes?

What does each man do when they reach the old ruin? What is the first thing Bull says about the field? What music is playing as he talks about the land?

How is the Widow introduced? What has Bull to say about her? . . . about the field

Why does Bull call to the Widow's house? What proposal does he make to her? Why does he do this? How would you describe his attitude to the Widow as he speaks to her? How does she feel about him? Can you explain the look on her face as Bull leaves?

How would you describe the atmosphere in Bull's house as they have dinner? Is any explanation offered for this atmosphere? What do you think of Bull's eating habits?

How is Bird introduced? Why would Tadhg want to torment the Widow like this?

How do the locals react to the Widow as she approaches Flanagan's? How are they photographed? What kind of a reception does she get inside? How do the locals feel about Bull?

How does Bird's reaction to the Widow's decision close off this scene in Flanagan's? What kind of music is playing on the soundtrack as he cycles away? How does this music influence our impression of this scene? What do you think of the way the local men are represented, as they stand outside the door of Flanagan's?

What are the first impressions you have formed of Katie, the Tinker girl?