The Natural: Naturally intriguing

“God I love baseball,” many of you probably feel exactly the same way, or have even said this aloud. This quote came directly from the mouth of Robert Redford in The Natural. A 1984 film that was based on Bernard Malamud’s novel, written in 1952. A classic amongst the classics, this happened to be my first encounter with watching The Natural.

A self proclaimed “flick buff”, I am honestly embarrassed to admit I had never seen this movie. After reading “Top 5 Baseball Movies without Kevin Costner,” by Zhilla Aghili, I decided to take it upon myself and finally watch The Natural. The movie is packed with immense talent. Ranging from the well known red head, Robert Redford; to Glenn Close, Kim Basinger and Robert Duvall, the actors alone made this movie appear to be promising.

Set in the 1930’s, the story takes the audience through the life and struggles of Roy Hobbs.  As a youth he makes a bat out of a tree that had been struck by lightning, named “Wonderboy.”  At the young age of 19 Roy is called to try out for the Chicago Cubs as a pitcher. Displaying a promising career ahead of him, he happens to be at the wrong place at the wrong time (I’m not going to give too much away, for those who have not seen this film). By age 35 he returns to baseball to play for the New York Knights.  The many hurdles of his career and past are laid before him.  Roy’s passion for baseball is evidence enough that love of the game can long surpass any obstacle.

The cinema photography has an older look to it. The way in which the film was shot gives the effect of a vintage look. Most of the scenes were shot in New York’s War Memorial Stadium in Buffalo. It was built in 1937 and demolished several years after The Natural was produced.  All-High Stadium, also in Buffalo, was where the scenes for Chicago’s Wrigley Field were filmed.  The scenes entail a lot of visual history within the film.  A lot of heavy symbolism and themes are intact in this movie.  A standout theme I think is crucial in baseball and also in life is:”Everything happens for a reason. Adversity tests individuals not to weaken them, but to make them better and stronger.”

The Natural was released on DVD in 2001, this film is a “must see.” More than likely you will probably have to watch it more than once so that, you do not miss out on any of the happenings within the movie.  This is what I would like to call one of the baseball cult classic films. A movie that some know by heart, and the youth of baseball will be eventually introduced to. There is a particular scene which stands out in my mind in this film. Barbra Hershey’s character asked Roy Hobbs “what do you want out a life?” He responds by saying, “to be the best there is.” Relatable to life, relatable to baseball, The Natural remains to be what it is. Classic.

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