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Dreams

Posted on Monday, April 28th, 2014

Dave!"It's unbelievable."
"It's more than that. It's perfect."

Today is the 25th anniversary of my most favorite movie ever made, Field of Dreams. I've seen it dozens of times and love it more with each new viewing. In the past I've describe the film as "flawless" and, after having watched it again tonight, still feel that to be true...

Field of Dreams Poster

The filmmakers somehow managed to pull together the perfect cast (including James Earl Jones, a long-time favorite) for a story that really shouldn't translate to the screen very well. So much of the plot revolves around things so fantastical, unbelievable, or just plain nuts that reenacting them in real life seemed like a ticket to disaster. But Kevin Costner was able to ground his character so fully into his world that it just didn't matter. His every reaction to the bizarre things going on around him made you believe there was nothing bizarre about it. He believes it, so you do too.

Spoilers, obviously...

One of my favorite things about the film is that nothing is explained. Absolutely no effort is put into explaining how any of the crazy events are transpiring because the only thing that matters is why they are happening... which results in one of the best movie endings ever.

And compelled me to visit the Field of Dreams movie site in Iowa.

Perhaps a movie will come along in the next 25 years that will knock Field of Dreams off the top spot in my list of favorite films. But somehow I doubt it. It's pretty hard to do better than perfect.

   
And now? A bit of trivia...

The little girl who played Karen Kinsella was named Gaby Hoffmann...

Field of Dreams' Karen Kinsella

Who grew up to play Ruby Jetson in the Veronica Mars movie...

Veronica Mars' Ruby Jetson

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Categories: Movies 2014Click To It: Permalink
   

Comments

  1. B.E. Earl says:

    I love the movie as well, although some baseball purists feel another way about it. And not only because Ray Liotta batted and threw with the wrong hands as Shoeless Joe. No, it has to do with the James Earl Jones character and the speech that preceded the clip that you embedded.

    In the book, Terrence Mann was actually JD Salinger. Salinger’s people made a stink about legal action if he was used in the film, so they created Mann. But they kept that speech largely the same way it was in the book. Except that Mann, as a black man and an activist, would have felt quite different about baseball as a constant. Especially as a teenaged Dodger fan who saw baseball prior to integration and then with what Jackie Robinson had to endure. The only player that Mann watched in Ray’s field who played post-integration was Gil Hodges. So the line about remembering all that was once good in the country as time has rolled by like an army of steamrollers…well, perhaps his memories and experiences as a young fan would have been not quite that fond. Mentioning the changes in the game, including integration, would have taken away from the focus of that speech. But it’s difficult to believe that Mann wouldn’t at least acknowledge those changes.

    I still think it’s a largely flawless film, and I never would have even thought of this minor criticism had I not read about it recently, but it is a valid criticism. I don’t necessarily think the criticism would be much different if Mann had been played by a white man. It was the late 1980’s and baseball HAD seen many changes since the time of Shoeless Joe. So some literary license there. Whatever…

    Doesn’t stop me from loving the film or the Terrence Mann character or James Earl Jones. Just made me think a little more about it than I ever had before.

    • Daver says:

      Yeah, I’ve read that argument, but largely dismiss it. The speech is talking to the ideal of baseball as a whole. This goes beyond the heinous prejudices when it comes to the “Whites Only Club” period that was Major League Baseball’s beginnings. A Black kid from the 1940’s sitting on the bleachers watching his heroes in a Negro League game is no less valid as a lover of the sport as any other kid. To say otherwise is to say that the only version of baseball that matters is Major League. An Asian kid playing stickball after school with his neighborhood friends and has his older brother as his baseball hero is no less valid than having his hero be Babe Ruth. To say otherwise is to say that the only baseball heroes that matter are Major League players. I don’t care how people want to interpret it… or even what the original author intended… James Earl Jones’ speech was given from a homemade baseball field in the middle of an Iowa cornfield and was delivered from the perspective of Americans. All Americans, regardless of race, who ever fell in love with the game and in whatever form of the game they grew to love… be it a Major League team (as in Ray Kinsella’s case)… or otherwise. I mean, what? It’s impossible that Terrance Mann could have been reminiscing over Boston Royal Giants games he attended with his father while making that speech? His childhood baseball perspective is invalid if his experience or his favorite team wasn’t Major League? His memory can’t be considered what “once was good” because it wasn’t Major League? Really? Ultimately, the movie ended with a game of catch between father and son over something both of them loved despite all their differences. THAT was what everything was leading to. THAT was what it was all about. The professional players had gone. Shoeless Joe left. There was no Major League players to watch. There was only the game. Bringing back the White Sox… even Shoeless Joe himself… were merely catalysts for the bigger picture. So when somebody wants to argue that Terrance Mann’s speech was some kind of endorsement of racism in professional sports instead of a love-letter to America’s Favorite Pastime in all its forms and fans… I have to wonder if they actually watched the entire film… or think baseball only exists in the Major League. The game… our game… is much, much bigger than that.

  2. B.E. Earl says:

    Here’s one of those articles regarding the Terrence Mann character. The author claims it’s the “worst baseball movie ever made”, which is simply ridiculous. So feel free to ignore it altogether. But I enjoy reading contrary opinions, so it was worth my while. And there is some valid stuff in there.

    Cheers!

    • Daver says:

      Holy crap. I am not going to say that the author doesn’t make a lot of valid points about the awful truth when it comes to baseball history… but to say that Field of Dreams is somehow endorsing segregation by omission is categorically absurd. Yes, racism and segregation happened. They are still happening today. We have a long, long way to go. But ALL of baseball is NOT the Major Leagues from ANY period in history. OTHER BASEBALL EXISTS! To act as if that isn’t the case is to not understand the game at all. It’s also to deny recognition of those players who found a way to play the game when the sport was denied them. The Negro Leagues Baseball Museum is filled with incredible examples of players whose love of the game triumphed over the adversity that seemed to block them at every turn. Visiting the museum and reading their stories and struggles not only reaffirmed my love for baseball, it showed me what “once was good” during a terrible time in this country’s history. Why it is impossible that the ultimate message of Field of Dreams must exclude such inspirational ideals found OUTSIDE the “Major Leagues” is lost on me.

      • B.E. Earl says:

        I pretty much agree with everything you said. Other baseball did exist. But that raises another question? Why did only white players from MLB come back to play in the field? No Negro League players, no Mexican League players, no Pacific League players. Just MLB players. Wouldn’t a man like Terrence Mann have acknowledged that?

        Just a thought.

        • Daver says:

          Now, see… THAT’S the question I think we should be asking. I suppose the easy answer would be something along the lines of “This is a story told from Ray Kinsella’s viewpoint, so the players will reflect his baseball experience.” But, within the internal logic of the story, that’s not the way it works, and we know that because Shoeless Joe said that players were lining up to play ball…

          “Ty Cobb wanted to play, but none of us could stand the son-of-a-bitch when we were alive, so we told him to stick it!”

          So, what? No Negro League players wanted to come? Or did they want to come, but the White Sox players said “no?” You could argue that they were the victims of the racist times that existed when they were alive… but in heaven? Wouldn’t such earthly idiocy be left behind? I have no idea. But at least this is an argument that fits within the confines and internal logic of the movie.

  3. Michelle M. says:

    Baseball. Meh. But Gaby Hoffman was ADORABLE in Uncle Buck.

  4. If you ever get it in your head to see the Field of Dreams site let me know as my folks live in the country just one town over. Of course my wife and I would have to go too….

  5. Dadcation says:

    I don’t even like baseball all that much, but I love this movie. I saw it for the first time right before I graduated from high school and had no idea what the ending was going to be, but when it happened, I started sobbing in front of my parents (something I hadn’t done since a small child), since I was emotional about leaving for college anyway. It’s a moment I will never forget.

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