Films, as a medium, often invite you to suspend your disbelief about events, characters and stories that are sometimes beyond the realms of understanding or possibility. These can be fantasy, science fiction or comic-book in nature, and sometimes they’re what are known as magic realism. This genre is easily defined as magical events blended with normal events, but presented as if reality, a fine example of magic realism is the 1989 Kevin Costner film Field of Dreams.
Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) is a Brooklyn-born Iowa-based corn farmer and baseball enthusiast. Whilst out in the corn field at night, he hears a voice informing him that “If you build it, he will come.” Confused, but not scared, he sets about constructing a baseball field over part of his crops. Once finished, ghosts of baseball’s past appear to play a friendly game and the voice leads Ray to go in search of other failed professional players, including Terry Mann (James Earl Jones).
Field of Dreams is a nostalgia-filled, oldHollywoodcinematic classic, it just happens to have been made in the 1980s. It dismisses those who do not believe in the central conceit of ghosts coming back to reclaim old glories, and they’re played as narrow-minded and almost piteous. The wonder and heart is reserved for the true believers, those who look back on the great moments of their lives and embrace the fact that they’re getting older.
In Field of Dreams everything is shot at magical times, including the tear-jerking final scenes shot beautifully as the sun sets over the corn field of the farm. Costner is perfectly cast as the everyman farmer and his interplay with an incredibly witty and sharp James Earl Jones is a joy to behold. In fact their relationship sums up the film nicely as part crazy, part charming. Luckily the film doesn’t drift too far into sentimentality and stays on the right side of cheesy.
Don’t be under any illusions, this is not a ‘great’ film, but it really doesn’t have to be. It’s cute, charming, nostalgic, insane and loveable in equal measure and I challenge anyone to watch it and not smile throughout. Simply put, it’s a film that you should see at least once, and probably a few more times after that.