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Field of Dreams(1989)
An Iowa farmer hears a voice in his cornfield accompanied by a vision of a baseball field. He takes it as a sign to build a baseball diamond which would ennable Shoeless Joe Jackson of the infamous Chicago "Black" Sox to play ball again.
For more about Field of Dreams and the Field of Dreams Blu-ray release, see Field of Dreams Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on May 27, 2009 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Kevin Costner, Amy Madigan, James Earl Jones, Ray Liotta, Burt Lancaster, Timothy Busfield
Director: Phil Alden Robinson
» See full cast & crew
Field of Dreams Blu-ray Review
Relive one of cinema's great treasures on Blu-ray.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, May 27, 2009
Is this heaven?
The best motion pictures find meaning in not the superficial aspects of the story but rather in the underlying emotional core that defines the story. The Wrath of Khan is a film not about revenge and confrontations in space but rather mankind's struggle with fundamental concepts such as life, death, youth, and old age. Gran Torino tells not a story about a car and an angry old man but rather a tale of the search for understanding, acceptance, meaning, purpose, and sacrifice in life. Likewise, Field of Dreams uses baseball as but a staging ground and analogy for the fundamental human need for bonding, forgiveness, love, and dreams. The quintessential metaphorical film, Field of Dreams takes abstract concepts such as destiny, magic, and faith and molds them into a tangible reality where dreams come true and, more importantly, old wounds are healed. Perhaps the perfect movie when considering both the basic principles of moviemaking and sheer spectacle and enchantment of the entirety of the experience, Field of Dreams continues to delight and touch some 20 years after its initial release.
Until I heard the voice, I'd never done a crazy thing in my whole life.
A New York born-and-bred man named Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner, Swing Vote) moves to Iowa after marrying his college sweetheart, Annie (Amy Madigan, Uncle Buck). One day, he hears a whispering voice that repeats the line, "if you build it, he will come." Ray comes to the realization that "it" may be a baseball field and "he" may be Shoeless Joe Jackson, one of baseball's all-time greats, who was banned from the sport following his alleged involvement in the 1919 "Black Sox" World Series scandal. Ray plows-under a rather large portion of his corn crop and builds the field, doing so to a chorus of negativity in the community, to the chagrin of his in-laws, and to the detriment of his bank account. Nevertheless, one spring day, with the White Sox playing on television, Ray's daughter Karin (Gaby Hoffmann) alerts him to the fact that there is a man on his field. Indeed, his prognostication is proven correct, and a young, fit, and baseball-ready Shoeless Joe Jackson (Ray Liotta, Wild Hogs) is there, in the flesh yet long since dead, ready to take batting practice and hit home runs into the outfield corn. As time passes, Ray again hears a voice urging him to "ease his pain," a message he surmises is meant for controversial 1960s writer and activist Terrence Mann (James Earl Jones, The Hunt for Red October). Together, they begin to piece together the remainder of the puzzle, answering one last call to "go the distance" and allowing destiny to write the stories of both their lives and of those lives lost to history.
The one constant through the years, Ray, has been baseball.
The aptly-titled Field of Dreams pitches not a typical movie experience but rather a surreal journey into the past where history not only comes alive but it affords a man to make amends and live a singular moment that will define his existence and shape his soul. Ray Kinsella lives a storybook life but with one regret that burdens his heart, his pain one that cannot be mended due to the passage of time and the course of life. However, it is baseball -- a game as described by Terrence Mann as something of an everlasting entity, something that may come and go but nevertheless always remains, and remains pure, good, and worthy -- that will allow him to assuage his pain and create a lasting, impressionable moment that will satisfy the soul and complete an otherwise incomplete journey through life.
Is there enough magic out there in the moonlight to make this dream come true?
Field of Dreams features plenty of metaphors for the process of life, the role of fate, the nobility of sacrifice, and the importance of love, best exemplified in the presence of the character Dr. Archibald "Moonlight" Graham (portrayed by both Burt Lancaster and Frank Whaley), a veteran of exactly one-half inning of play in the Major Leagues and without a single at-bat against Big-League pitching. An elderly Graham recalls his longtime desire to hit in the majors, stretching a double into a triple, sliding into the bag and embracing it, his description one of vividness of one of baseball's most exciting plays. Upon his return to a youthful exuberance and finally earning an at-bat against a Major League arm, Graham fails to triple but rather hits a sacrifice fly to score the runner from third base, not one of the sport's more memorable or dramatic plays but certainly one of its most fundamental, the event recalling the importance of self-sacrifice for the greater good in accomplishing a goal while also earning the adoration of both teammates and fans despite making an out. The sacrifice fly in baseball represents both sound strategy and selfless action for the betterment of the whole, these qualities reflecting Graham's inner-character and defining his life as a caring, compassionate man who sought to please and gave all he had to Chisholm, Minnesota where he dazzled not with flashy catches or timely hits but rather by healing the town's sick and buying dozens of blue hats for his wife. Indeed, his one-half inning of play saw him live one dream but paved the way for him to fulfill his destiny not by swinging the bat but instead serving a far more important role and finding his own "field of dreams" not on the grass but rather in his medical practice.
People will come.
Though dazzling in its depiction of metaphor and magic, Field of Dreams makes for a sound technical achievement, too. Perhaps most notable is James Horner's (Legends of the Fall) memorable, mystical, and Oscar-nominated score, one that both supports the thematic tones and imagery of the film but also the emotional substance that makes the movie special. With the breezy, light notes that play during a montage featuring Ray and Karin building the field; a deep, enchanting, slightly haunting, and wholly mesmerizing piece signaling the more mystical segments of the film; and 1919-era big band-style music heard when the field of play comes alive with the presence of eight former players; the entirety of the score seems to lend the perfect finishing touches to the themes and visuals presented throughout the film. In addition, much of Field of Dreams plays with a lyricism that reflects that of an expertly-penned novel. A reference to former Big-League manager John McGraw pointing a "bony finger" at a player, for example, reflects the film's visually-inclined script that works not only because of its quality but also because of the delivery. Kevin Costner, Ray Liotta, James Earl Jones, and Burt Lancaster in particular offer splendid performances, capturing the entire essence of the picture with both wit and emotion, rounding out the film and making Field of Dreams a timeless classic.
Field of Dreams Blu-ray, Video Quality
Universal delivers a solid but unremarkable 1080p, 1.85:1-framed transfer for Field of Dreams. Though flesh tones exhibit a red push, colors are generally presented with a natural appearance. The green grass of the field or the cornstalks that mark the makeshift outfield wall, the brown dirt, the white farmhouse, Ray's brown leather jacket, and all of the other shades that are seen throughout impress. Detail, too, appears adequate, that same brown leather jacket showcasing the fine lines and wear that give it character. The image never appears wholly three dimensional or completely flat. Grain buzzes about the image with regularity, and blacks tend to impress. Nevertheless, the film sports a slightly processed look but needless to say that, on the whole, it's never looked better for home viewing.
Field of Dreams Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Universal pitches Field of Dreams onto Blu-ray with a DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack. Though not terribly active or powerful, the track delivers a suitably good listen that befits the tone of the film nicely. Horner's score, whether the lighter, more easygoing notes or the deeper, somewhat darker lows that accompany the more magical sequences of the film, all play nicely across the front soundstage, perhaps not quite as clearly as expected but with a robustness and presence that benefits the presentation. Atmospheric effects are generally limited to the front channels, though the occasional sound seeps into the back and plays to a nicely realistic effect. Dialogue -- whether the soft whisper of the mysterious "if you build it" voice or the deep inflections of James Earl Jones -- plays audibly and cleanly through the center channel. Sound effects, too, play as expected, the crack of the bat and the sound of the ball hitting a leather glove never faltering. Though not a track to show off the power of Blu-ray, this one impresses in context.
Field of Dreams Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Universal harvests a dugout full of bonus features for this Blu-ray release of Field of Dreams. First up is a commentary track with Director Phil Alden Robinson and Director of Photography John Lindley. The track begins with a discussion of the changes between author W.P. Kinsella's Shoeless Joe and filmed product. The track plays as gently and innocently as the movie, with a nice selection of comments on the score, some of the unrealistic farming techniques seen in the film, the plowing of the corn and the building of the field, the challenges of shooting at night, Kevin Costner's abilities as a ballplayer, and much more. On a separate supplement, Alden also delivers video introductions for a collection of deleted scenes (480p, 16:50). From Father to Son: Passing Along the Pastime (480p, 38:41) features Major League players and managers and cast and crew discussing the themes of the film, the performances, baseball, family, the film's lasting impact, and more.
Roundtable With Kevin Costner, Bret Saberhagen, George Brett, and Johnny Bench (480p, 29:56) features the actor and the three former Major Leaguers discussing a broad range of topics related to baseball and the film. A Diamond in the Husks (480p, 17:41) takes viewers to the baseball field featured in the film that still exists today as a tourist attraction. Galena, Il, Pinch Hits for Chisholm, MN (480p, 5:35) takes viewers on a brief guided tour of Galena. 'Field of Dreams:' A Scrapbook (480p, 1:29:51) offers an extended glimpse into the making of the film with a plethora of cast and crew interviews that look into the locations, the casting, the construction of the field, the history of the Black Sox scandal, the marketing campaign, the film's success around the world, the film's legacy, and plenty more. Bravo Special: From Page to Screen (480p, 46:06) examines the process of bringing the novel to the big screen. Finally, the film's theatrical trailer (480p, 2:24) rounds out this collection of extras.
Field of Dreams Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Magical, meaningful, and entertaining, Field of Dreams holds up like few other films, its messages on the importance of faith, forgiveness, destiny, and love both timeless and rich, messages that know not the boundaries of time or place. Nominated for three Oscars, including Best Picture, and supported by a dazzling soundtrack and fine acting, Field of Dreams is a film to treasure for a lifetime. Universal's Blu-ray release of this contemporary classic bests previous home video outings. Featuring a fairly good 1080p video transfer, an adequate lossless soundtrack, and a fine selection of bonus materials, fans should have no reservations about adding this disc to the roster. Highly recommended.
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• More Universal Catch-Up Titles - March 19, 2009
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