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Preview: Field of Dreams

March 15, 2017

Student Activities invites you to a real ground-rule-double of a Movie Night as we present Field of Dreams on Saturday, April 1. The movie will be in The Liberty Baseball Stadium starting at approx. 7:30 PM, or, right after the baseball team demolishes Bethune-Cookman for the second straight game on their way to a series sweep GO FLAMES.

Field of Dreams (released April 21, 1989) is not a baseball movie, at least not in the same way that, say, The Natural or For the Love of the Game, also starring Kevin Costner, is. Sure, Field of Dreams has baseball in it, and baseball is definitely a sport. Yet, in 2008, when the American Film Institute completed top 10 lists of various genres*, Field of Dreams was #6 on the list of greatest fantasy movies of all time, but did not appear on the list of top 10 sports movies. Their assessment is accurate. Sports movies tend to feature the drama of sport: extended action sequences of a game and a win or lose moment on the field that defines a player or team. Field of Dreams does not really have either of those elements, at least not in a way that is essential to Ray Kinsella, the protagonist played by Costner. Adapted from the book Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella, the movie does feature “Shoeless Joe” Jackson and other members of the infamous “Black Sox” team who threw the 1919 World Series and subsequently were banned from baseball for life. “Shoeless Joe”, played by Ray Liotta, appears first from the cornfield, the initial answer to the mystery surrounding the famous line, “If you build it, he will come.” The rest of the movie is about Ray Kinsella pursuing the mysterious voice, deciphering that quote as well as two others: “Ease his pain” and “Go the distance.” His pursuit takes him to Boston where he meets famous author Terence Mann, portrayed by James Earl Jones, and then to Chisolm, Minnesota, to find former player “Moonlight” Graham, portrayed by Burt Lancaster. In every encounter, baseball is the constant, the foundation to the action, but hardly ever the prominent feature of on-screen action.

That is why Field of Dreams is not really about baseball, but the idea of baseball. It is the pre-steroid era, nostalgic, “as American as baseball and apple pie” idyll of baseball. Comments made by Liotta’s Joe Jackson and the famous speech given by Jones’ Terence Mann exemplify this. “Shoeless Joe” says that he would have played for food money, or even nothing, as he recalls the sights and sounds of the game. Later, while Ray’s brother-in-law threatens him with the loss of his farm, the voice of James Earl Jones provides the counterpoint: “People will come, Ray…as innocent as children, longing for the past.” It is a movie about faith, and even though, as Roger Ebert said in his 1989 review**, “the religion is baseball,” Ray’s out-in-left-field faith would not work without the trust and support of his wife Annie, played by Amy Madigan. It is a movie about fathers and sons, exemplified in the end by the relationship between Ray and his father and embodied in “Moonlight” Graham’s words: “We just don't recognize life's most significant moments while they're happening. Back then I thought, ‘Well, there'll be other days.’ I didn't realize that that was the only day.”*** Ultimately, Field of Dreams is a movie about missed opportunities and second chances, putting the ghosts of the past to rest not by resisting or escaping them, but by engaging and embracing them, no matter how risky or difficult it may seem.

Just to “cover our bases”, Field of Dreams is rated PG for “some language and thematic elements”.

This event is free to attend and as usual we will have FREE popcorn and cheap snacks and drinks available. Questions? Check our FAQ page to find answers. If that doesn't help, send us a nice email: studentactivities@liberty.edu.

 

 

Resources

* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AFI%27s_10_Top_10

** http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/field-of-dreams-1989

***http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0097351/quotes



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