Friday, April 11, 2008

Just another sports flick?

Hardly. There are reasons why movies like this bear repeated viewings. As one watches such movies time and time again, threads of profound meaning only noticed individually before begin to weave themselves together--individual truths interconnect so perfectly as to create a beautiful tapestry, at once both complex yet intriguingly simple.
As I watched this movie on Friday (April 11) to honor the official beginning of the 2008 baseball season, I was struck by a new insight that threaded its way into my understanding of the deeper meanings at work here.
So I found myself asking, Why really is Doc "Moonlight" Graham in Iowa? On the surface, it seems he is there to finally live his dream of playing baseball. Dig a little bit deeper, and one could argue that his purpose in Iowa is to show the true meaning of altruistic sacrifice- giving up one's own dreams for a higher purpose, in this case, saving Karin's life. "Moonlight" Graham crosses the line to to become Doc Graham, a decision that costs him the chance to play baseball ever again.
This time, though, I think that his purpose goes beyond even that. The fact that his crossing the line is what enables Mark to see the magic of the field is too coincidental. In addition to showing us that, given the choice to live his life over, he would still choose to become a doctor instead of a ballplayer, he also shows us that people are placed in certain moments in time for specific purposes, to accomplish ends that we do not always see or understand.
In a very real way, this movie is about faith. Everything that is done is done by faith. Ray, prompted by very strong feelings, plows under his major crop ("What's a crop?") to build a field and drives half-way across the country to take his idolized author to a baseball game. Annie, knowing the risk of bankruptcy, supports him. Terrance Mann, not knowing what to do or what will follow, leaves his home to follow Ray to Minnesota to find Graham. All are unified by a faith that what they are doing is ultimately the right thing to do.
While God isn't ever mentioned, I like to think that this He is still present. It is His plan. Often, we, like Ray, think we understand what He is trying to tell us. Just as Ray thought he was supposed to convince the older Graham to come with him to live his dream of playing baseball, we often think we know how the plan is supposed to play out, only to find it playing out in a way more unexpected than we imagined. Going further than that, I think Ray still thought that the point of having younger Archie Graham there was so that he could live his baseball dream. I don't think he realized the point of having Archie there was to provide a means for saving Karin's life, as well as offering a sacrifice that would enable another man to see. Archibald Graham's role became crucial in the fates of many. Had he chosen to pursue baseball, much would have been lost by his selfishness. Because he chose others, he helped save them all.
Of course, the even bigger twist is that Ray, thinking he was doing the Voice's will, thought he was doing it to help others, only to find that the ultimate goal is to reunite himself with his father. In one of the most simple yet profoundly moving scenes, perhaps in movie history, we discover that all along, the greater purpose was to help Ray find peace and joy in the things most precious to him: his family.
What a great film!


Sarah Lambson said...

Okay, now I really have to watch this movie again. I really enjoyed reading this enrty! Love ya!

Heather and EJ said...

Elise! I came across your blog and was so excited!! It's (Sister) Heather that was a mouth full. Anyways...what you up to these days girl?!!

J.Ammon said...

I'm not big into the "have a catch" part of the movie, but what Darth Vader says about baseball rings true to me. I don't think I understood the movie until I moved to St. Louis, but I now I love it. No place is it more true that "they will come" than small market St. Louis and the Cards.