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DVD Review

DVD cover

Bloomfield (1971)
(2019 Reissue)


Starring: Richard Harris
Distributor: Fabulous Films Ltd / Fremantle Media Enterprises
RRP: £9.99
Certificate: PG
Release Date: 25 March 2019

Richard Harris. A cinematic legend for over four decades, scraped together $2 million dollars to make this labour of love shot in Israel back in 1969 and not fully finished until post production and music tracks were laid in at Twickenham Studios in time for the Berlin Film Festival in 1971. Berlin booed it off the screen and the redoubtable star stood up and booed back. Richard Harris.

The story, climaxing in a big rugby game at Israel’s Bloomfield Arena, hangs on whether or not Harris’s ageing rugby star, Etian, will sell out the sport he loves or not. I wouldn’t spoil this blast from the past by giving away the ending, but let’s just say, it’s pure Richard Harris.

The aforementioned music track features vocals and songs written by Maurice Gibb when he had left the Bee Gees. The elegiac vocals are pure '60s confection candy, not up to The Monkees or even close to The Beatles. But the windy airiness has a sort of Richard Harris feel to it and indicates his taste that would be manifested in his later vocal forays, like his cover of 'MacArthur Park'. He was always better than William Shatner, though, whose music is, I’m sure, played regularly in rendition facilities around the world.

What Harris completists (see: The Films of Richard Harris on YouTube) will treasure here is an unadulterated crash-and-burn and the reminder that a Protagorean world view is no guarantee for success. Bloomfield is an echo of Harris’s classic first big hit in world film This Sporting Life, (1963) which, if the viewer has not viewed or viewed recently, deserves a look. The YouTube stream is high quality with production by Karel Reisz, Cinematography by Dennis Coop and direction by Lindsay Anderson. Less than six years later, Harris would take on the same subject with himself in charge of everything. Stiff competition even for him.

Bloomfield is the Herculean star from Sporting Life to The Field (1990) to Harry Potter (2001) at his aesthetic nadir. But then, it is Richard Harris. His performance never lacks for passion, spine and valour. He delivers heart by the truck-load and indeed when we hear his heartbeat thrumming on the track in the climax, we are, without a doubt, worried for this great stag, who would ultimately be taken from us in 2002 by Hodgkin’s Disease. He always gave of himself, poured himself out as a libation for our enjoyment. Tough guys do that. They take the risk of failure and still give it their all.

A tiny footnote: ten year old David Heyman appears in the film. Not surprising since his dad co-produced Bloomfield with Harris, and would grow up to produce all eight Harry Potter instalments. I’m sure casting Harris for the last time we would see him, was an affair of a worshipful heart.

At the end of Bloomfield, Harris breaks the fourth wall. Tough guys and powerful artists get to do things like that. Is he looking at us because of the plot resolution or the movie we’ve just watched? Or both? You decide.


John Huff

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