Wednesday, October 10, 2007

"If you build it, he will come."

Though I love movies, I seem to be one of those people that has odd, glaring holes in my movie-watching experience. For example, it was not until just a few years ago that I actually sat down and watched The Breakfast Club. I grew up hearing quotes and references to this iconic movie, but never quite knew what people were talking about. Jake would frequently look at me in shocked wonder whenever I would say, "Nope, still haven't seen it."

Another movie that fits solidly into the "I can't believe you have never seen that movie" category is Field of Dreams. At least as much as Breakfast Club, Field of Dreams is a profound memory in our culture: mixing baseball, regret over bad blood between dad and son, a family farm in jeopardy, and the colossal undertow of Nostalgia Americana. I have heard it referred to as the "movie guaranteed to make manly men cry."

I finally saw this movie last night and thoroughly enjoyed it. This movie captures completely the purpose and truth of the fantasy genre: able to take human sentiment and cast it against a fantastic background, causing it to stand out in stark relief. There are many touching stories about men making peace with their dead fathers and other good stories that evoke a powerful sense of nostalgia. But this story becomes transcendent as it is tied to an experience as iconic, as thoroughly and symbolically American like baseball, and then we are immersed in the vicarious wish fulfillment of every baseball-loving child. A glimpse of the truth and beauty of heaven? A fleeting taste of our telos toward which we are moving in Christ? Quite possibly, especially given the movie's end sequence (the waterworks-inducing "Hey, dad? Wanna have a catch?"). The beauty of fantasy indeed.


Greg Brooks said...

Jason, just reading that "Wanna have a catch?" line makes me all misty.

Greg from Jonesboro

Tim Lewis said...

Great movie.

preacherman said...

Excellent post and great movie.

Anonymous said...

If you cried during Field of Dreams, another Costner movie you should check out is Waterworld. If that doesn't bring tears to your eyes, nothing will.

And Field of Dreams is absolutely fantasy. It's one of those movies that if you described it for the first time to someone who had no idea what it was about they'd look at you funny for saying it's good.

"Yeah, it's about this guy who is a corn farmer who hears voices in the corn that tell him to do things."

"You mean like that horror movie with those kids who kill people and that lady from the Terminator movies that was based on some Stephen King story?"

"No, it's not horror, but it does have ghosts. So this corn farmer plows under most of his corn to make a baseball field. Then one night he sees this guy out on the baseball field and he's out there to play ball. It turns out he's Shoeless Joe Jackson."

"Who the heck is Shoeless Joe Jackson?"

"He was a baseball player from the old days when everything was black and white."

"So I have to know a lot about old baseball players to enjoy the movie?"

"Nah, it fills you in on everything you need to know, and it's not important to the plot anyway. So not long after, Shoeless Joe brings out a bunch of other dead baseball players to practice on this field."

"So he like drives there or what?"

"No, they just kinda walk out of the corn."

"So were they buried there? Was his cornfield like an old dumping ground for mob hits or something?"


"What are you looking at me like that for?"

"Just shut up for a minute and let me finish. So the voices still keep telling him stuff and he decides he has to track down this old guy who wrote those finding yourself books in the sixties. So he goes to Chicago to get him and the actor is that black guy who did the voice for Darth Vader, what's his name?"

"Yaphet Koto?"

"No, no, the other one."

"Sidney Poitier?"

No, not him either. He was the heavy in Conan the Barbarian."

"Oh, James Earl Jones."

"Yeah, that's him."

"You know, I believe he overcame a very real struggle with stuttering."


"You're looking at me like that again."

"Last time I'm going to tell you, shut up. So they come back to the farm and James Earl Jones can see the baseball players, too."

"Wait, so not everyone can see them?"

"No, only Kevin Costner's wife and daughter can see them until James Earl Jones shows up. Toward the end Kevin Costner manages to make up with his dead father who he had not a crappy relationship with, but one where they couldn't talk to each other without arguing."

"Kinda like us?"

"You know, I'm sitting here trying to tell you about this movie that's really good and all you want to do is make stupid comments that only you think are funny. Well, screw you. I'm done talking to you."

"No, come on. I'm sorry, tell me how it ends."

"No, you're just going to make another 'joke.'"

"No, I won't. I promise. I just want to know how it ends. You can't just leave me hanging like this."

"Alright. He plays catch with his dad."

"And then what?"

"That's it."

"That's it?"


"I think I'll wait to see it on cable when there's nothing else on except reruns of What Not To Wear and Full House. That movie just sounds like they took a bunch of unrelated ideas and threw them together. It doesn't even sound interesting."

"I'm telling you, it's good. Did it make sense to you when I told you about Being John Malkovich?"

"Well, no."

"Did you like that movie?"

"Well, yeah, I guess it was pretty good. Especially that part where the chimpanzee had the flashback to when his parents were captured by people who wanted to sell them to a zoo and the chimps were making monkey noises and there were subtitles at the bottom saying, like, 'save yourself, son.' That was my favorite part. Wait why are you looking at me like that again? I really did like that part."


Tim Lewis said...

My sister cried at really.

Tim Lewis said...

Also, Shoeless Joe Jackson only played once in the majors barefoot.