‘Field of Dreams’: Fathers & sons, phantoms and phenoms

NEW YORK (AP) – Baseball and tears, the ones that scratch the cheeks.

Tears, the kind that leaves fights between parents and children.

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"Field of Dreams" is about ghosts and phenomena in an unlikely diamond in an Iowa cornfield.

Emotions gush like water through freshly cut grass, resonating three decades later because of the nerves the film seeks.

"I remember, I think it was the first test screening we had, it was in the Los Angeles area and it was a recruited audience and they didn't know anything about the film," recalled director Phil Alden Robinson this week. “And in the end, I was sitting in the back, and I noticed a woman with about two, maybe three rows in front of me in the hall, just crying.

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"Her head was in her hands, she was crying heavily," he continued. I started to leave my place. I would go to her, put my arm on her shoulder and say, "It's just a movie". And I took a step or two towards her and recognized her. She was someone from the studio's marketing department and had already seen the film. And I thought, oh my God, this is really something.

They made the film and the audience arrived.

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Released in April 1989, two weeks after the "Major League", 10 months after "Bull Durham" and eight months after "Eight Men Out", "Field of Dreams" was number 6 in the search for the 25 favorite Associated Press films . .

Robinson adapted W.P. Kinsella's 1982 novel "Shoeless Joe" in a script that cut and focused on the story of a farmer who replaces corn with a football field while he seeks a reunion and redemption from his long-dead father. Ray Kinsella, played by Kevin Costner, hears a mysterious and unidentified voice saying, "If you build it, it will come", "it will ease the pain" and "it will walk away". The film culminates in taking him to play with his father's ghost.

Along the way, his quest takes him to Boston's Fenway Park and Chisholm, Minnesota. He is assisted by his wife Annie (Amy Madigan), bitter novelist Terence Mann (James Earl Jones); and Moonight Graham (Burt Lancaster), who entered a game for the 1905 New York Giants, never entered the field and later became a doctor. The phantom team playing on the Iowa field is led by Shoeless Joe Jackson (Ray Liotta), banned along with the rest of the 1919 Chicago White Sox for accepting money to play the World Series.

Former baseball commissioner Fay Vincent concluded that the themes were the same as those emphasized by his predecessor, A. Bartlett Giamatti, a professor of Renaissance literature at Yale who reveled in the poetic side of baseball.

"It is at the heart of most Western literature, the struggle to live away from home and then return home. And when you get home, you are hugged by your teammates and are sheltered in the shelter," said Vincent. " Bart's argument was that the reason academics and intellectuals like baseball is that baseball is really a narrative of the western canon, the struggle to exist far from everyone and the fact that redemption occurs when you get home. "

Giamatti, consumed that summer by investigating Pete Rose's bets, did not have time to watch "Field of Dreams", "Major League" or "Eight Men Out".

"I'm not boycotting them. I'm busy. And I usually read books when I don't sit here," he said during an interview with the Associated Press in his office on Aug. 18. "I don't want to look like this workaholic, like this idiot. who doesn't like it. "I just haven't had a chance to see them yet. Express it that way, because I have all the confidence I want. They are made for the ages. They will be in the culture and I will reach them."

Giamatti announced Rose's lifetime suspension on August 24 and died of a heart attack eight days later.

Robinson grew up in Long Beach, New York, and vividly remembers sitting in a chair between his living room and kitchen when he was 5 years old, watching Elston Howard dispute Pee Wee Reese in the 1955 World Series final against the Yankees, giving the Dodgers their only title while in Brooklyn. A photo of Robinson with an arm around Roy Campanella remains one of his most valuable assets. He was startled by the team's move to Los Angeles after the 1957 season.

"It was the first time in my life that I learned that life can break your heart," he said.

"Field of Dreams" received Oscar nominations for best film and best adapted script (both won for "Driving Miss Daisy") and best original soundtrack (won for "The Little Mermaid"). It has been repeated over and over on cable television in recent weeks.

Mann's character predicted that "people will come" to the field for a long time, a speech shown on the video cards before the players' presentations at the World Series games.

Even during the coronavirus pandemic, people went to the film location in Dyersville, Iowa. An 8,000-seat stadium is being built alongside the preserved cinema field, and the Yankees and Chicago White Sox are still scheduled to take place on August 13.

"I would say about four or five vehicles a day," said Roman Weinberg, director of operations for Go The Distance Baseball, which owns the film website. "You will periodically see people slowly getting out of the car and making that family walk to the diamond. Some play catching it. Others just walk around the bases, take some pictures, get back in the vehicle and go home. People are attracted by the simplicity of the site and only for its integrity. ”

Baseball continues, somehow.

"The mistake that some people make when they say baseball, they think of MLB," said Robinson. "But they are also smaller leagues. It's college. It's high school. It's a small league. It's stickball. It's goofy ball. They're parents playing catch with their kids. It resides in a place in our hearts and imaginations that is very , much, much bigger than just MLB. "

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The Associated Press is presenting one of the top 25 sports films, a suggestion of what to put on the screen while you're at home. Of course, this is what we do in AP: we classify things. Thus, 70 writers and editors around the world voted for the best in the history of sports cinema.

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More information on AP's top 25 sports movie searches: https://apnews.com/Sportsmovies

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