Field of Dreams 1989 movie

Field of Dreams – A wonderful fantasy between sports and American family

These days, the sports business is just a fighting arena where physically gifted young men compete ruthlessly to gain public attention, far from that feeling of being part of something more significant, as we see in this 1989 movie, Field of Dreams.

For the protagonist of this story, honest farmer and family man Ray Kinsella, baseball has always been a great source of joy but also a painful reminder of regret.

Although Ray leads a happy and peaceful existence with his wife Annie and their little girl Karin, he feels that something is missing in his life, especially after the death of his father, John, with whom he had not spoken in a long time.

As if someone from above felt his pain, a mysterious voice urges him to build a baseball field near his home, giving up a good deal of farmland.

Everyone obviously takes him for a fool, even his wife Annie, who nevertheless remains faithful to him, until she also sees the miracle when Joe Jackson, a 1920s champion later disgraced and expelled for accepting money from gamblers, appears out of nowhere in the middle of the field.

Even Joe’s ghost doesn’t seem to understand precisely what is going on, only wanting to continue playing baseball and bringing other ex-player friends to play a few games with.

Meanwhile, the mysterious voice talks to Ray again, convincing him to take a long journey to find former writer Terence Mann and then old doctor Archibald Graham, both connected not only to the same sport but also to his father’s past.

As this magical ballpark becomes increasingly filled with colorful and bizarre out-of-time characters, meanwhile banks push for their money and threaten to take all away from Ray and his family.

A sport, a country, an era gone

I already mentioned Phil Alden Robinson on this site, with the amusing parade of friends/stars in the spy movie Sneakers. It is certainly not a masterpiece, but I believe it has always been unfairly underrated.

In the case of this 1989 movie, Field of Dreams is undoubtedly the most resounding success of his directing career, grossing over $80 million against the $15 million spent to produce it.

A remarkable success even outside his homeland, considering also the choice of a national sport like baseball (virtually unknown in Europe) as a metaphor for the protagonist’s search for purpose in his long journey and as a constant in the broader, turbulent American History.

In the midst of wars, deaths, revolutions, and social movements, sport often remains the only thing that can still make fathers and sons sit at the same table and not stand each other, who, at least for a couple of hours, instead of insulting each other, cheer for their sports heroes or curse against the umpire’s decisions.

Not coincidentally, amid the adventures of the young and inspired Kevin Costner, we also find a disturbing/funny scene where his wife, the irrepressible liberal played by Amy Madigan, argues furiously at a teacher/parent confrontation with another conservative mother who would like to ban certain books she deems dirty for children.

Robinson gently takes us on this journey between past and present (which is now also past, after 30 years) with the soft lighting and soft colors of John Warwick Lindley’s cinematography, accompanying the images with the beautiful songs between jazz/blues and rock and roll of that era so far away.

An adventure suspended between the excitement of sports and the mystery of fantasy, troubled families, and rebellious youth, where the excellent baseball diamond is the only thing that can unite everyone.

A luxury match with unforgettable players

Kevin Costner, one of my favorite actors of his generation, returns to the baseball field after the great success of Bull Durham a few years earlier.

In this case, instead of an entertaining love triangle in and out of sports, we have a character who perfectly embodies the American spirit of that era.

A proud man, sometimes even making mistakes, as when as a young man he quarrels with his father by insulting his favorite player, who will later be the same one who returns as a ghost behind his house embodied by the legendary Ray Liotta.

Amy Madigan is then an excellent partner, perhaps not as fierce as the mercenary I love to remember in Streets of Fire, but still a wife of unwavering love and trust who defends her husband against everything and everyone.

The pair works perfectly in every dialogue and little argument, along with the addition of little Gaby Hoffmann, a cute actress/child who we will see again the same year in the hilarious Uncle Buck with the phenomenal John Candy.

Finally, we end with more heavyweight cinematic characters, like Burt Lancaster, my favorite character as the wise and weary Dr. Graham, aka “Moonlight.”

Played in his “young version” by the outstanding Frank Whaley, we see the emotions and dreams of a boy who desires to be a braggart and a baseball player but later finds his true calling by helping people as a doctor.

Also, for half the movie, Kevin Costner is paired with the immense James Earl Jones, a performer powerful in dramatic acting who we see here instead in the unusual comic role of this famous writer who no longer wants to write for an America he no longer recognizes.

As you can see, quite a few players are on the field for this bizarre long dream fantasy baseball game, each bringing a little magic to this 1989 movie. It doesn’t matter your age, gender, or even whether you like baseball or not: this movie still works, being a universal story capable of touching those personal chords that play to perfection in each of us.

Field of Dreams 1989 movie
Amazon Prime Video
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