Movie Article

Don't Have a Cow

''The Field'''s horrific scene -- The cows falling off of a cliff wasn't as bad as it looked

To anyone who has seen The Field, it's not surprising to learn that a chilling scene — in which Richard Harris' defeated Irish farmer breaks down and drives his herd of cattle off a cliff into the ocean — had animal rights activists snarling when it was first screened Stateside. Contrary to appearances, however, the movie's disclaimer — tacked on for benefit of the sensitive American public — is accurate: ''No animals were killed or injured in the production of this motion picture.''

In fact, according to line producer Arthur Lappin, high camera angles and a crane-operated animal cage with a trapdoor helped make the cows' plunge (actually only seven or eight feet into water) appear much more dramatic than it was. Likewise, the aftermath of the fall, in which the animals look stunned and bloodied, was the result of a mild muscle relaxant and red dye makeup, not jagged rocks. Filmed on location in the town of Leenane in West Connemara, Ireland, the production employed a cattle wrangler, a veterinarian, and an inspector from the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to ensure the safety of the proceedings.

Originally posted Jan 18, 1991 Published in issue #49 Jan 18, 1991 Order article reprints
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