Field of Dreams (1989)
Costner's Baseball Dreams
It's okay, honey. I... I was just talking to the cornfield - Ray Kinsella
Despite the long list of baseball movies to have hit the big screen over the last few decades there is one actor who you could say has become synonymous with the genre, that being Kevin Costner. Whilst "Field of Dreams" is not for me Kevin Costner's best baseball movie it is one which will carry you away on a trip into the fanciful with its journey into baseball legends, that is as long as you allow it to. That is an important point as "Field of Dreams" is a movie detached from reality with a fanciful flare to it and if you approach it expecting a serious sports movie then you are likely to think its nostalgic nonsense that becomes cheesy in trying to be inspirational.
Having got married, started a family and settled down as a farmer in Iowa, Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner - Bull Durham) is startled when one day whilst tending his corn he hears a mysterious voice telling him "if you build it, he will come". He's even more shocked when he gets a vision of a baseball field in the middle of one of his crops. Believing it's a message that he should build the baseball field and with the support of his wife, Ray pursues his vision. Along the way he encounters many memorable people, such as one time legendary writer Terence Mann (James Earl Jones - Coming to America), Dr. Archibald 'Moonlight' Graham (Burt Lancaster - Tough Guys) and the legendary Shoeless Joe Jackson (Ray Liotta - The Iceman).
When "Field of Dreams" starts it's firmly set in the real world with a nice intro using old photos, home cinema style footage and an amusing voice over from Kevin Costner explaining how he, Ray Kinsella, ended up married with a child and a farmer in Iowa. But as soon as the intro is done with it starts you on the journey into fantasy with the mysterious voice which Ray hears whilst tending his corn field. Taken seriously you would say that "Field of Dreams" spirals out of control as it becomes more fanciful and to be frank far fetched. But then it also has a charm about it, bringing to life, quite literally, the nostalgia and legends of baseball which if you allow the warmth of the tale to engulf you then it will charm you from start to finish.
It is this side of the movie, the delving into the archives of baseball which makes "Field of dreams" such a charming movie as well as often being quite humorous. For anyone with the least bit interest in baseball will find the historical references, the legendary and not so legendary names mentioned to be absolutely fascinating. You actually learn a surprising lot about the history of the sport, especially for someone who enjoys the sport but not fanatical about it. It manages to capture the magic of the game and the stuff which makes legends out of its numerous stars.
But "Field of Dreams" is not just a sports movie which digs up the legendary past of baseball as when you allow it to charm you it also speaks to you in another way. It has messages about life, reaching for your dreams and the importance of relationships. It is again a part of the movie which only really hits you when you allow it to win you over with its charms. Otherwise the messages may come over as sentimental and sometimes cheesy nonsense. In many ways it has a slight Capra-esque feel about it and would more than likely be the sort of thing you would expect Frank Capra to have directed if he had still been making movies at the end of the 80's.
One of the nicest things about "Field of Dreams" is the performance of Kevin Costner who mixes drama, charm and humour in equal measure to make you empathise with his character, Ray Kinsella. But the stand out thing is that it doesn't feel like Costner is creating a character rather than drawing on his own life experiences and his passion for baseball making it all the more believable when it really shouldn't be. When Ray Kinsella meets Shoeless Joe Jackson the wonderment on his face comes across so naturally as if Costner himself is meeting one of his idols for the first time.
Accompanying Kevin Costner there is the entertaining Amy Madigan as his wife Annie Kinsella, a quick talking spirited woman who despite all logic decreeing other wise supports her husband in what seems like a moment of fantasy or even mid life crisis. Plus there is James Earl Jones who offers more than just his booming voice to the role of author Terence Mann, making a perfect companion on this journey into baseball legends. It's the supporting performances as much as Costner's which helps make "Field of Dreams" both charming yet also humorous with great moments of appropriate satire which stops it all becoming too fanciful.
What this all boils down to is that you will either love or hate "Field of Dreams" depending on whether you allow it's fanciful, mystical journey into the realms of baseball legends to charm you. If you can't get passed how far fetched it really is then it will be a disappointment but let it charm you and it will fill you with nostalgia, make you laugh and also make you think about your own life, relationships as well as dreams.
Tags: Baseball Movies
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