Sunday, March 31, 2013

Field of Dreams

Field of Dreams; fantasy drama, USA, 1989; D: Phil Alden Robinson, S: Kevin Costner, James Earl Jones, Amy Madigan, Ray Liotta, Gaby Hoffmann, Burt Lancester

While walking through his cornfield, Iowa farmer Ray Kinsella hears a voice telling him: "If you built it, he will come". He builds a baseball field in the middle of his land and ghosts of dead baseball players show up to play on it, all of whom were involved in the Black Sox Scandal 70 years ago and were banned to play ever since. While on a meeting involving his wife Annie, Ray hears the second message, "ease his pain", and deducts that it must refer to retired writer Thomas Mann. He goes to meet him in Boston and then they follow further clues that direct them towards "Moonlight" Graham, a deceased baseball player. However, they pick up his ghost and bring him back to Iowa. Ray has the vision of the ghost of his dad and they make up, while people arrive to watch the game.

"Field of Dreams", one of the most popular movies from the 80s, is one of the rare examples where the authors conjured up such a magical mood that it even managed to conceal the obvious plot holes in the not always logical story. Baseball is here practically glorified into a religion while the main hero, Ray, is practically transformed into a modern day prophet for it, yet despite such a banal concept, it manages to create something esoteric, spiritual and emotional from it, a slice of 80s flair, cleverly sending a symbolical message about achieving one's dream, no matter how much all the others don't agree with you. The small humorous touches are refreshing, as in the PTA meeting involving Annie and another woman  ("And if you experienced even a little bit of the 60s, you would feel the same way, too." - "I did experience the 60s!" - "No, I think you had two 50s and moved straight into the 70s."), or the initial scepticism of writer Thomas Mann, played brilliantly by James Earl Jones, whereas the crystal clear cinematography and music almost create their own, separate tune of harmony. However, the flaws are still noticeable: the way Ray "concludes" what he has to do from the vague instructions of the voice make even less sense than clues from "The Da Vince Code" (for instance, during the meeting, Ray hears the voice saying "ease his pain" and somehow knows that it refers to the book of Thomas Mann - and not anyone from hundreds of people sitting around him during that moment); the time travelling subplot involving "Moonlight" Graham is questionable; the actions of the characters sometimes do not make sense whereas the ending is inconclusive, or better said, the ultimate cause does not justify the invested effort. Overall, though, there is something pure that draws you to this movie, even when you rationally complain about it.


1 comment:

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