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By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
Field of Dreams
Directed by Phil Alden Robinson
Universal 01/89 DVD/VHS Feature Film
The 1984 film The Natural was a mythic and mesmerizing movie about America's favorite pastime that also saluted the heroism of the lonely individualist. Field of Dreams is an engaging film that uses baseball as a launch pad for musings on human aspirations, righting old wrongs, going the distance, and celebrating those magic moments when life on earth seems almost heavenly.
Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) lives on a farm in contemporary Iowa with his wife Annie (Amy Madigan) and their young daughter (Gaby Hoffman). After hearing a mysterious voice say "if you build it, he will come," Ray builds a baseball field in his cornfield so that shoeless Joe Jackson, who was banned from the sport because of the infamous 1919 Chicago Black Sox incident, can once again play baseball. Although it means putting his family in grave financial jeopardy and earning the ridicule of the conservative community, Ray follows other orders from the voice and brings back to Iowa a burnt-out 1960s novelist (James Earl Jones) and a Minnesota doctor (Burt Lancaster) who never got to play more than one inning in the major leagues as a young man.
In this fantasy film, based on W. P. Kinsella's 1982 novel Shoeless Joe, baseball is the field where the dreams of these characters are played out. Shoeless Joe (Ray Liotta) appears as do other old-timers who are given another chance to step up to bat. Ray's father also appears to play a healing game of catch with his son. Asked if there's a heaven, the spirit of Ray's father replies, "It's the place where dreams come true."
Director Phil Alden Robinson makes this Capraesque drama work with real emotional poignancy. And the performances are all worth cheering about.
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by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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