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Field of Dreams (DVD, 2004, 2-Disc Set, Anniversary Edition - Full Frame Edition)
(59 Epinions reviews)
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Feel good Dreams
Oct 16, 2002
Review by BrianKoller
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:cast, cinematography, costumes, humor
Cons:baseball as allegory of Heaven, needless road trip
The Bottom Line: An engaging fantasy, this film will bring tears to the sympathetic, but it also provides an easy target for the more cynical among us.
It has to be one of the most parodied lines in film history. "If you build it, he will come." The voice from the cornfields comes to Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner), the everyman good guy farmer with a devoted leftist wife Anni (Amy Madigan) and a precious little daughter Karin (Gaby Hoffmann) who never demands, "Mommy! I want it now!"
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Ray is probably just grateful that the voice from the Great Corn Patch isn't whispering, "They all must die!" Because then the film would be more like Children of the Corn, and would never have received Oscar nominations for Best Picture and best adapted screenplay.
By his own admittance, Ray has never done anything crazy in his life. But he builds a baseball field, complete with anachronistic stadium lights, because a voice from the cornfield must be obeyed even if it leads to public ridicule and financial ruin.
Ray must have felt like Noah did when he built the Ark, but one has to admit that he is up to the task. In just a few short scenes, none of which include trips to Home Depot, he's got his beautiful baseball field and bleachers. All he's missing is a billboard-sized scoreboard that advertises Pepsi, and a concession stand that sells hot dogs for $5 apiece. And a multi-million dollar city bond funded by taxpayers. But I digress.
I wish that I had seen Field of Dreams on its opening night, in a crowded theater. Surely there wasn't a dry eye in the house when all those ballplayers (who took payoffs from gangsters to lose, and nearly destroyed their sport) show up to play ball. Forgive me, I have to blow my nose... honk! There, that's better.
Field of Dreams is one of the ultimate feel-good uplifting films. You live a good life, bear your shattered dreams in silence, and you die. But that's not all: you go to Heaven, then come back after a spell because a novice farmer was naive enough to pay attention to the ghosts whispering to him in the fields. Wrigley Field won't do, because the humorless Chicago police will arrest all the players for trespassing. "So you're Shoeless Joe Jackson. What's your street address?"
I don't think it's fair that only baseball players can return from the dead. What about those who have lived out lives of equally quiet desperation, but whose secret desire was instead to score with their high school cheerleaders? Will there be a Back Seat of Dreams? Can it get a PG rating?
No, I am not trying to write a cynical humor piece. What I am trying to do is explain why Field of Dreams, heartwarming as it is, may not be quite as transcendent a film experience as it purports to be. You only get one chance at life. You don't get called back from the minors beyond the pale.
It's a decent movie. I appreciate that Anni supports her husband through thick and thin. I understand why the clearly drifting Terence Mann (James Earl Jones) is willing to go on a road trip with a man who just threatened to shoot him with his finger. At least it would be something to write about.
(Legendary reclusive writer Terence Mann is a fictional character, and is not be confused with non-fictional legendary reclusive screenwriter Terrence Malik.)
I like the character of Dr. Graham (Burt Lancaster). He turns down the offer of perpetual youth playing baseball, when instead he can save lives and make people well. The greater good is certainly on the side of the latter.
What I am ambivalent about is the depiction of baseball as a pure and noble game when it, like everything else, has never existed as such. Mann, for example, could never have played with the Black Sox, simply because baseball was segregated during that era. The film's allegory of 'classic' baseball as Heaven on Earth may strike a chord with many, but wise Dr. Graham knows better. (50/100)
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