Saw Field of Dreams (1989) on AMC last night, and this time, it hit me harder. Watching the movie again has stirred up some ripples, deeply and belatedly. To say that Field of Dreams is about baseball is like saying Cinderella Man is about boxing. Movies like these speak to us not because we are necessarily sport enthusiasts, baseball or boxing fans, but that we, every one of us, belong to a family, or at least in memory, and that we are a part of the human race.
By heeding a voice telling him to build a baseball field in his cornfield, Ray Kinsella unknowingly began a journey of reconciliation. Using baseball as a springboard, and through the characters and the ingenious twists in the story, the movie leads its viewers, who are as unknowing as Ray, to taste the almost mythical reality of dreams fulfilled, past yearnings realized, and lost relationships redeemed. The film satisfies by simply portraying the very possibilities that these miracles can happen.
It is because of these universal themes that the film can reach far beyond nationalities and borders. In fact, the original story is not written by an American. The movie is based on the book Shoeless Joe, which is written by a Canadian author, W. P. Kinsella. Born in Edmonton, Alberta, Kinsella used to teach English at the University of Calgary. (I still remember listening and taping his interview on a CBC radio program…oh, those were the days.) Among the numerous awards and nominations the movie has garnered including an Oscar Best Picture nomination, it won the 1991 “Best Foreign Film” category in the Awards of the Japanese Academy.
Critics who love to associate Kevin Costner only with Waterworld should at least remember that, he is the man who brought us such American modern classics as Field of Dreams and Dances with Wolves….all other failings are forgiven, easily.