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The Natural (1984)
American Mythology at its best
When I was about 7 years old my father returned from a work trip to Toronto - raving about a movie he'd seen whilst he was there and bringing back 'Blue Jay's' baseball caps for my brother and I. He wasn't a baseball fan but he he'd been inspired by the film he'd seen.
It was years until I saw this film and it didn't disappoint - despite the huge build up my Dad had given it! It's a modern day fairytale. And that definition is no way pejorative.
I've written academic theses on the diagetic process of obscure film makers, compared the cinematography of Ozu and Kurosawa and I wouldn't hesitate to describe this film as a truly masterful piece of storytelling. It taps into a deep vein of sporting fantasy and in return injects it with some of the most poetic and enduring images of athletic endeavor that I've ever seen (as an intellectual equivalent I'd recommend 'Stand and Deliver', 1988).
The acting is excellent across the board. The casting of Farnsworth and Brimley against a dubiously youthful Redford (Vaselined lenses for the first 10 minutes
suspension of disbelief thereafter
) is exquisite. The sepia shot tones give the movie a mythic edge. The finale gives a (genuinely) gut-wrenching kick and provides one of the most memorable 'slo-mo' scenes you will ever see. Forget 'Field of Dreams' - this is American myth making at it's best and at its most poetic.