Want an All-American Movie? You Won’t Do Better Than ‘Field of Dreams’
“The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game; it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again. Oh, people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come.”
Terrence Mann, “Field of Dreams” (1989)
“Field of Dreams” may have hit theaters 30 years ago, but like a good book – which is, of course, how this movie originated – sometimes the classics are worth a return visit.
With it, you’ll get to enjoy thick layers of symbolism from an ‘80s movie that has aged well.
Behind the ‘60s idealism, redemption and forgiveness is a movie that merits reexamining because it speaks about American goodness – of all that was once good and can be again.
The power of a father and son playing catch
Iowa farmer Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) sets up the movie through an opening narration that explains a troubled relationship with his father.
Both he and his wife, Annie, occasionally discuss this rapport throughout, but the film’s emotional core isn’t realized until the very end when Ray discovers that he’s undone all of those troubles through baseball.
And what’s the simple line sheepishly asked by a choked-up Ray to his father at the end?
“You wanna have a catch?”
Costner once said the entire film came down to those few words. It’s all about family and a slice of redemption, because there isn’t much better and more American than a father and son simply playing catch.
Peace is the real prosperity
For decades we’ve been led to believe the ideal that citizens should achieve success and prosperity through hard work, determination and initiative – all of which is true.
But “Field of Dreams” delivers the real, tough-love gut check when it explains how Americans already have that, yet we’re still empty.
Mann’s passionate final speech lays it out well:
“People will come, Ray. They’ll come to Iowa for reasons they can’t even fathom. They’ll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they’re doing it. They’ll arrive at your door as innocent as children, longing for the past. ‘Of course, we won’t mind if you look around,’ you’ll say. ‘It’s only $20 per person.’ They’ll pass over the money without even thinking about it, for it is money they have and peace they lack. And they’ll walk out to the bleachers; sit in shirtsleeves on a perfect afternoon. They’ll find they have reserved seats somewhere along one of the baselines, where they sat when they were children and cheered their heroes. And they’ll watch the game and it’ll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces.”
Americans are spiritual, and faith in this movie is plentiful
The characters may not have entered a church once during “Field of Dreams,” but they followed their path with faith and will.
Ray heard a voice telling him to plow under part of his main source of income for the sake of an irrational baseball field – in the middle of nowhere – and he did!
Some of us might look at that as misguided (his neighbors did), but the idea resonated well with so many, to the point that it was nominated for Best Picture.
As Americans, we know that In God We Trust, and Ray knew that some sort of higher power was guiding him. His faith and will drove him to outrageous lengths to attain something he couldn’t fully comprehend.
That’s faith – and American strength.