Field of Dreams
There’s this funny thing about baseball. No other sport could have supported this wildly imaginative and puzzling story without generating a ton of laughs. I mean, can you see a football player in a cornfield, and he hears this voice: “If you build it, he will come … and he’ll pulverize the opposing team, he’ll rip their guts out, he’ll smash, ‘em, he’ll stomp on ‘em!” Not for a millisecond. Wouldn’t work for basketball, for soccer, for ping pong. But it works with baseball, because baseball has always had this mythic element that lends itself to allegorical, even fantastical stories. Baseball, in some weird way that I don’t understand but love, is much more than a game to those who love it.
I’m still amazed that it all worked so well. I’ve always felt that it was such a perilous undertaking. Set one foot just a little bit wrong and the whole silly story would collapse. But tell it right, and people will be moved. And they were, and I was. I’ve thought about why it worked. I can think of one good reason. There was absolutely no attempt to “explain” anything. Who is the voice? Shit, I dunno. I don’t care. There are so many possible interpretations of the impossible events, and the movie makes no attempt to favor any of them, so you can do it yourself. Even if you hate sports (and I’m no sports enthusiast, except for baseball and the Olympics) the movie just flat-out works. On every level. It avoids all the standard plot elements of the story of the crazy man with a vision. He doesn’t know where the voice comes from any more than we do, but he soon accepts it. No head doctors are consulted. One of the things I liked best was that the wife, who almost always in a story like this will oppose the hero on every front, accepted it as real almost at once, and stood by the man all the way to the end. And it doesn’t really end, does it? The last shot is of the thousands of people arriving to watch some ball, and maybe even play some ball, drawn to the lights as surely as Richard Dreyfuss was drawn to Devil’s Tower. What does it mean? I dunno. So why am I crying?