Baseball Movie Month: The Natural
Updated: Jan 31, 2021
This January, the Cubs DNA team is taking a closer look at baseball movies: picking the classics, unearthing some overlooked titles, debating top flicks, and making recommendations. January is a slow month for baseball, so let's bridge the gap with baseball movie month.
Today, we discuss The Natural. Released in 1994, it was directed by Barry Levinson who would go on to some Oscar prestige directing Good Morning Vietnam and Rain Man. Robert Redford stars as a former fireball pitcher bouncing back from hard times as a power hitting outfielder. Armed with Wonderboy (a bat carved out of a lightning stuck tree), he joins the fictional New York Knights in the golden era of baseball.
The Natural is my favorite baseball drama. It strong captures the feel of the golden age of baseball. As a period piece, it throws you into it's very authentic yet dreamlike world. It's a fantastic take on 1930s baseball, fully immersing the viewer into that world.
The Natural is fairly cheesy. In taking itself so seriously, there are over the top elements like Redford hitting the guts out of a baseball or shattering a scoreboard clock with a home run. Some don't like it for this reason. Normally, I don't like full on cheese. But the Natural incorporates it in such a calming way, it feels like you are dreaming. The music, environment, and story of the movie all blend together in such a way that it doesn't feel cheesy.
It's a really well made movie. It's one of those movies that is so committed to the way that it does things, it stands out from all others. Few movies combine slow motion and soundtrack as effectively as the Natural does. While it is slowly paced, it is very methodical in its approach. Not for everyone to enjoy, but a must see for baseball fans.
It owns the greatest baseball scene in cinematic history. Goosebumps every time. Often parodied. Spoilers: