Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Field of Dreams Rhetoric of Space

In the 1989 film, Field of Dreams, a baseball field built within the cornfields by farmer Ray Kinsella (played by Kevin Costner) is used to create a space that represents the dreams of the common man and the simplicity needed in life by using various rhetorical devices. Ray has a very strong emotional tie to the game of baseball beginning with his father's love of the game. One day Ray hears a voice saying “If you build it, he will come,” and he sees a baseball field within his growing cornfields. Ray feels an absolute need to build the baseball field, but nothing happens for months. Faced with heavy financial burdens, Ray has to make an important decision, and ultimately decides to keep the baseball diamond instead of replant the corn. The baseball field finally sees some action one afternoon when Ray's daughter notices some men taking batting practice. Those men turn out to be the ghosts “Shoeless” Joe Jackson and the rest of the 1919 Black Sox team of the past. Ray realizes that he made the right choice in keeping the field. This brings up my first point in how the field represents the dreams of the common man. Ray is depicted as the average american man, faced with the problems that are relatable to most. The baseball field creates a place of comfort and peace for him to confide in. It creates a link to his past that most people can relate to, or pathos. “Shoeless” Joe Jackson is a direct link to Ray's father because that was the player he idolized. Another aspect of this movie that relates to the common people is the sport of baseball. There is a reason that baseball is considered “America's Pastime”. Baseball is about as american as apple pie, and that mass appeal creates a great audience for the film. The sport creates a common ground, as does the baseball field. I know personally growing up I dreamed of one day playing in the big leagues, as did plenty of other kids. All baseball fans idolize certain players and this concept just brings back the point that the field represents the dreams of the common man.

Another thing that the field creates in the movie is a bond between people. It brings together the characters of the film whether it be Ray's family or complete strangers like Terence Mann (played by James Earle Jones). Ray's family is going through a rough time and this baseball field creates a sense of unity and purpose in the household that helps them to overcome the financial and emotional struggles. The point I draw from this is that sometimes even the simplest things, like a couple of lines drawn in the dirt, can bring people closer. Also, I think that the director is using the field to critique society as a whole. Most would agree that people these days is very distant and something like baseball creates a common ground that brings all types of people together in today's busy society. It allows people to take a small bit out of their day to sit back really appreciate the small things. Not only does the field represent the simplicity in life, but it also represents the solidarity and peace of the sport. There is something special and nostalgic about a father and son playing catch. This is perfectly represented in the closing scenes of the film. When Ray realizes that the catcher on the field is actually his father, it creates a very emotional scene. He finally understands that in the line, “If you build it, he will come” the “he” refers to his father. Ray left his father on bad terms, and now he is given the chance to resolve the problems. All he has to do is play some catch. The emotions of the scene really pulls on the heartstrings of the viewer. 
Although all of the supernatural events that occur in the movie are never explained, the movie makes perfect sense. At one point Ray finds himself in the year 1972, but the viewer does get hung up on these details because there is such a bigger picture being presented in the film. The journey as a whole is what matters, not the specific details. This concept brings back the idea of the simplicity involved in the field. There is no fancy walls or grandstands at the field, just a mound, three bases, and home plate. Ray has created a space of simplicity and solace in the “field of dreams” in a world that tries so hard to suppress those things we consider special and sacred. I give the film five out of five slurpees because of its ability to create such a powerful message with such simple ideas.

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