Oh man, this one is going to be another tough one, I can feel it.
I was just reading through some of the quotes and my eyes started tearing up reading them and thinking about my first viewing. What an experience.
Movie night with my parents as a kid was like a surprise birthday party. I was young and involved in sports so I didn’t watch a lot of television and didn’t see a lot of trailers. Plus, if the TV was on, I was playing The Legend of Zelda on my Nintendo Entertainment System. I didn’t care how many times I beat it, I kept playing that damn game over and over again.
I’d come home from a practice and I’d see some rentals in their clear plastic cases on the counter.
They would always rent a “new release” and an “old” movie that they wanted to share with us. This experience was a “new release” and it was one of the most emotional experiences that I have had with a film on its first viewing.
Before I say anything else, I want to share that I am not a baseball “fan” per say. I can sit and watch a game with my friends given the perfect set of circumstances. I understand the game enough to know the strategy and the lingo, but I’d rather watch football, basketball or soccer.
With that said, there is nothing like going to the ball park, getting a dog and a beer and relaxing in the sun.
Even if you are not a baseball fan, this movie can help you appreciate why people are still so enthusiastic about experiencing it.
“Field of Dreams” is about why there is passion for baseball. It has moments where I watch it and think that W.P. Kinsella (novel) and Phil Alden Robinson (screenplay) conspired to answer an elementary short essay, “Why do you love baseball?”
Watching James Earl Jones as Terence Mann and Burt Lancaster as Archibald “Moonlight” Graham as they monologue on their different reasons for loving the sport is more than inspiring. I can get goosebumps thinking about their descriptions. Lets be honest, listening to James Earl Jones read the back of a cereal box can give you goosebumps.
All of that is great, but the heart of the movie comes from Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner). We learn very early on that his father, John, was also a man that had a passion for baseball like Terence and Archibald. Throughout the film it is learned that Ray’s rebellion with his father happened at a young age when he rejected the sport that his father loved so much. Ray remembers feeling wrong for having rebelled against baseball and his father and always felt that there was a necessary apology that he was never able to make before his father passed.
This of course is told appropriately over the course of the film and delivered in a most well written fashion.
I remember enjoying the energy that Annie Kinsella (Amy Madigan) displayed in her effort to support the eccentric decisions that her husband decides to make throughout the movie, along with influencing their daughter and community to make healthy decisions. When she is able to inspire people in their town to choose not to ban a book at their local schools, it is both humorous and moving.
Ray Liotta as Shoeless Joe Jackson is played with the correct level of poise and passion for such an iconic Major League figure. When he talks about putting a glove to his nose with his bright blue eyes, he’s in a trance. I wanted to go grab my glove and smell it while he was talking about it (I didn’t need to, I could smell the glove where I was sitting…I think I was hypnotized).
This is the first film I recall watching where my dad could not contain the tears. They poured from him at the film’s climax after Terence disappears into the corn and Ray Kinsella demands clarity from Shoeless Joe.
I found later that my dad’s father had a very similar story to John Kinsella. He played in the minors and was on the cusp of moving up into the majors, but made some choices in his life that impeded this.
Like Ray Kinsella giving out hints about his relationship with his father throughout the movie, my dad gave me as many clues about his relationship with his father throughout his life with me. This is the movie that got my dad talking with me about his baseball experiences…and sometimes, when I was lucky, a little more.