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During the late 80’s, Phil Alden Robinson developed a sensational story that revolved around a real life account of a sport tragedy. The viewers were immersed in a touching account of how sport, a social interest, can play a powerful role in human bonding; thus becoming a very spiritual component of life. It in itself has a profound effect on the societies’ spiritual experiences; and just like religion can respectfully be considered a form of spirituality for a modern society, as exemplified in Robinson’s movie ‘Field of Dreams’. This story resonates far beyond the power of dreams, its appeal lies in a vision of a perfect sport and the love for which can inadvertently resolve issues no matter how grand. The plot at first presents itself as a complex; or maybe even a strange series of events, but somehow its scenes string themselves into a moral about redemption and deep interpersonal bonds.
‘Field of Dreams’ is a diversified script that constantly evolves, but mainly revolves around the game of baseball, ‘the greatest game ever invented’. The game that according to some avid spectators, completely and thoroughly transcends and binds the country to past, present, and future--generation to generation. In this movie this national pastime represents an avenue that finds the connection to the soul of a great audience; somehow insinuating that baseball acts as a means of fulfilling individual spiritual needs. These needs are that of a ‘sense of belonging’, a need to participate in sport, either vicariously as a spectator or directly as a participant. Moreover the desire to engage in distraction and play may be intrinsic to the human psyche. The theme throughout the movie was based on the legendary story of the Chicago White Sox of 1919, where the question was raised on the issue of the team’s “sportsmanship” and the ethical behavior of several teammates during the World Series. This left the image of America’s most idolized team tarnished and lead up to a ban of eight players from the sport; for an ‘unsportsmanlike’ like conduct in the series. The public view of the game up until then was that of perfection, it was clean and straight; but afterwards, the lack of fair play especially coming from such highly ranked players, ended up affecting fans’ enthusiasm for the entire sport. As the movie nears its ending, Robinson evolved on the concept of having utterly devoted fans and as if in a mystified manner drew them in to this already mystical place, just to have them see the most idolized team of ‘the golden age’ play once again.
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While in another fashion, “a sense of a spiritual happening” is also insinuated as the author introduces the concept of a ‘lost soul’. This perhaps this is the most overt method the author could have used to symbolically tie spiritualism to the love of baseball. In order to resonate to the audience Robinson conceives of a character with a simple unfulfilled wish. Archie ‘Moonlight’ Graham, a rookie back in the day, seemed to have received a crushed spirit after achieving so much to get to the Major Leagues, but when getting there his career ends abruptly and he loses his chance at his fifteen minutes of fame. This was a man who had accomplished so much and was capable of that much more, that at the end of his life he remained only a restless spirit because of the lost chance at completing his simple childhood wish. The message that the mysterious voice reiterates, “Ease his pain”, is a phrase that could also have been insinuating to relieve Doctor Graham’s pain, just as it instructed Ray to lighten spirits of the old writer Terence Mann. As the movie came to a conclusion, we realize that amongst many other things, that is exactly what the purpose of the message was. Doctor Graham eased his spirit when getting that final wish to participate in a Major League game, as he played along the side of every one of his idol players, his soul was satisfied.
The first message Ray receives; “If you build it, he will come” brings about a hint at the main theme that the author tries to convey to his viewers. Throughout theme revolves around this unexplained underlining of the plot, which is founded on a lost relationship between a father and a son. The relationship itself is thought to have been a difficult one. The director revealed from the beginning that there was no other sign of commonality between Ray and his father but an intense passion for sport, suggesting that their bond is solely based on that enthusiasm. Through out the movie Ray, the main character, receives telepathic messages by which he is continually reminded of his late father. He follows through with what the supernatural calls are insisting he should do, even when going against everything; his family, economic pressures and even his own instincts, just so he could solve this mystery. After so many unrelated events take place he finally realizes that everything that occurred was meant to lead up to only one event, the reconciliation between him and his father’s soul. His father (John Kinsella) being an avid baseball fan and a player in his youth, reaches out to his son the only way he knew. The spirit gives him a chance to experience being surrounded by the greats, and with that approach reconnects with his son after so many lost years.
The intrinsic appeal of sport for many people is the uncertainty of the outcome and Phil Alden Robinson utilizes the very same concept throughout his scrip. He develops the plot outline and he figuratively shows some misses and hits for such extreme spirituality towards the sport. While developing his script, interestingly he shows it in a manner as the game would progress itself; unpredictably. Ultimately Robinson manifests a story that is written in the spirit of the sport, by taking the greatest tragedy in history of baseball and glamorizing it. He insinuates that from a global perspective baseball will forever remain the all time favorite sport, no matter what. As he continues to write, he connects the spirituality to the sport on a much deeper level as he shows the building of the field, a space where the spirits of the past come alive and become content with being given a chance to relive their life long passion. Lastly, shows how the spirit of the game can create bonds on a deep emotional level, simply by having common interest or creating a hobby that two individuals can share, in order to strengthen their relationship. Robinson has most definitely succeeded demonstrating, in multiple ways, how a sport can be a foundation for spirituality.