Editor’s Note: In the spirit of seeking sunshine during a gray winter, and to help usher in the upcoming baseball season we will be counting down our favorite baseball movies for the next three weeks.. Today’s choice of silver screen Baseball goodness asks the question of whether they really will come if you build it.
Our last entry on the countdown, Major League, was about humor pure and simple.
Today as we inch closer to Opening Day we switch from humor back to more serious subject matter with an added hint of the supernatural rolled in with Field of Dreams the story about an Iowa corn field and what happens when “you build it.”
Field of Dreams was Kevin Costner’s second baseball related movie and celebrated its 25th anniversary on April 21, 2014.
Following 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 movie deals with second chances and following one’s heart which is a central theme of many of the movies on our countdown.
With superb performances from 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 of course elements in the movie that could never happen in real life regardless of how many voices we hear in the corn fields of life, but 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.
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 of course is the mark of a good movie that 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.
And of course coming is a central theme of the movie with the whole “build it and he will come approach.”
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.”
While the above monologue has become one of the most memorable elements of the movie, it should be noted that James Earl Jones was convinced that it would never make the final film . Thankfully for the fans of the movie and baseball it did not end up on the cutting room floor.
Perhaps no other sport is as linked with feelings of nostalgia as baseball is and 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.
If you have not already done so, you should “go the distance” and add Field of Dreams to your movie viewing habits.
As for the actual field used in the movie, it is still set up for visitors. Plans were even announced to have a professional baseball team play at the complex.
There are questions as to whether that will happen but regardless of whether or not professional baseball comes to the Iowa corn field, fans of the movie will continue to make their way to the hallowed ground from the film that sparked their memories of summer days gone by.
Now if you’ll excuse me I need to get ready to go the distance to some Spring Training games.
Copyright 2016 R. Anderson