Monday marked the 25th anniversary of the release of the movie Field of Dreams.
As noted during our Totally Subjective Top 10 Baseball Movie Countdown back in March, Field of Dreams trails only Bull Durham in terms of popularity here at the Gigaplex.
Based on the book, Shoeless Joe, by W. P. Kinsella, the movie follows the exploits of an Iowa farmer who hears voices that tell him to plow over his crop of corn and build a baseball diamond to allow the ghost of Shoeless Joe Jackson and his friends to play on it.
The story also centers on making the most of second chances along with working through the grief that comes from the loss of a loved one.
With superb performances from Kevin Costner, James Earl Jones, Burt Lancaster, and Ray Liotta rounding out the cast, the film delves into topics of faith and belief in both a simpler time in baseball as well as each of us.
There are elements in the movie that could never happen in real life regardless of how many voices we hear in the corn fields of life. However, the belief that things like the ones depicted in the movie could happen somewhere are part of what make the movie one of the all-time bests.
What makes the movie so popular and relevant a quarter century after its release depends on who you ask.
Each of our inner children want to believe that somewhere there is a “field of dreams” where we can relive our happiest experiences and perhaps avoid some of the sadder times in life.
For some, that field is a baseball diamond. For others, the field might be somewhere where we can spend a little more time with a loved one who is no longer with us.
The movie tackles each of those elements perfectly and never really spends too much time explaining the supernatural elements of the film and they never seem too over the top.
It just feels natural that there could be a cornfield in Iowa that is cosmically linked somehow to allow ballplayers to be young once more and enjoy the simple joy of “having a catch.”
There are certainly plenty of emotional moments in the movie and despite Tom Hanks’ proclamation in A League of Their Own that “there is no crying in baseball” there are still certain scenes in Field of Dreams that get me a little watery eyed each time that I see them.
That is the mark of a good movie. Even after seeing it countless times over the past quarter century, the emotional elements still run true and can elicit a reaction despite knowing what is coming.
While no big celebrations are planned this week to commemorate the anniversary, it should be noted that many of the prime cast and crew will be on hand at the baseball diamond in the corn field June 14 as part of Father’s Day weekend.
With its central theme of “having a catch” with one’s father it is only fitting that a Father’s Day event is tied to the anniversary.
In addition to events planned on the diamond, a Field of Dreams 25th Anniversary Celebration Parade will take place in downtown Dyersville, Iowa on Saturday, June 14.
With the anniversary upon us, it is only fitting to once again remember the nostalgic effect of baseball.
Or to put it in the words of James Earl Jones’ character, “Ray, people will come Ray. They’ll come to Iowa for reasons they can’t even fathom. They’ll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they’re doing it. They’ll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. Of course, we won’t mind if you look around, you’ll say. It’s only $20 per person. They’ll pass over the money without even thinking about it: for it is money they have and peace they lack. And they’ll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon. They’ll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they’ll watch the game and it’ll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh… people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.”
Perhaps no other sport is as linked with feelings of nostalgia as baseball. Field of Dreams taps into that nostalgia in a way that is not over the top or judgmental. It just feels as comforting as a worn glove when the leather is broken in at just the right amount, or perhaps like a baseball cap where the bill is curved at just the right angle to keep the glare of the sun at bay.
And if you happen to find yourself in Iowa Father’s Day weekend, you should “go the distance” and take a side trip to the Field of Dreams.
Who knows, you might just catch a glimpse of Shoeless Joe Jackson emerging from the stalks of corn in center field.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I will go have a catch with my dad.
Copyright 2014 R. Anderson