Saturday, June 14, 2008

One Film Review for My Father

I have written here before about my father, briefly. How he took my brother and I to see T2, made us watch Full Metal Jacket on VHS and about our mutual love of action movies. And while my father may have different tastes in most movies than my own, he has always supported me in whatever direction my obsession with cinema has taken me, up to and including this blog. This post is about one of my favorite movies that always makes me think of my dad. Field of Dreams.

Kevin Costner stars as Ray Kinsella, an ex-hippie Iowa farmer who hears voices in his cornfield. The voice tells him famously, “If you build it, they will come.” Ray tears down the corn, builds a baseball diamond and begins a journey that starts inside of himself, takes him across the country and finally back home to his family and redemption. Based on the novel Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella, it’s a very moving story about fathers, sons and baseball. Kevin Costner, an actor I’ve gone on record as being a fan of, gives a great performance that is very down to Earth and is perhaps his most memorable role and certainly one of his best. He shines as the ‘everyman’ that he rarely gets to play. Some people dislike the movie with a preference for Bull Durham, but Field of Dreams is more than a baseball movie. James Earl Jones plays Terrance Mann, a character based on author J.D. Salinger, who helps Ray in his journey to make sense of everything. Jones brings a levitas to the film that rings true with more than baseball fans and gets to the heart of viewers who have a passion denied in life. Like he says, the movie “reminds us all of all that once was good and it could be again.”

The movie is a very layered dealing with family issues, economic and social strife and the essence of America. The filmmakers ‘built’ a special film that has been passed on from one generation to the next. They built it and people came. People still come to the actual field in Dyersville, Iowa and play ball on the field with their families, sit on the bleachers and watch the game of walk right out of the corn onto the grass. There’s something unique about a film that gets to live on in the real world everyday like this one. Face it, as much as I love Star Wars, I’ll never get to visit the Death Star on vacation (and no, I’m not traveling to Tunisia, either). It's always been a dream of mine to travel across country one summer to all the baseball stadiums and this field as well.

The real message of the movie and the reason that it has remained so beloved is the relationship between the father and son. Ray recounts the story of how he and he father fell out over baseball and Shoeless Jo Jackson. Anybody who has ever had a disagreement with their father can relate to his story and sadly, far too many can understand his emotions at not being able to reconcile before his father passed away. My father was in the first Desert Storm and later I was in Afghanistan. I know that at different times, both of us had thoughts that we might never see the other again. Like Ray and his father, a lot has gone unsaid between me and my father, but I think that everything is understood. Unlike Ray's dad, my father never pushed me into doing something I didn't want to and looking back, that still means a lot to me. When the final scene plays out between Ray and his father, tears well up in my eyes and I miss my dad, wherever he is. I know he had a tough time raising a kid like me, but he has tried really hard in the past few years to try to make up for those times and I love him for it.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad.

Field of Dreams is available on DVD from Universal.

1 comment:

The Mad Hatter said...

Very well written - I'm sure your dad would be proud.

In a moment of "great minds think alike", I too wrote a piece about FIELD OF DREAMS on Father's Day.

Small world.