Natural
  • Natural
  • Natural

Natural

4.3 13
Director: Barry Levinson

Cast: Barry Levinson, Robert Redford, Robert Duvall, Glenn Close

     
 

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The film version of The Natural pulls off the neat trick of conveying the spirit of the Bernard Malamud novel upon which it is based, even while changing both the outcome and the meaning of Malamud's closing chapters. In his first film appearance in four years, Robert Redford plays Roy Hobbs, a farm boy with a hankering to be a great baseball player. With hisSee more details below

Overview

The film version of The Natural pulls off the neat trick of conveying the spirit of the Bernard Malamud novel upon which it is based, even while changing both the outcome and the meaning of Malamud's closing chapters. In his first film appearance in four years, Robert Redford plays Roy Hobbs, a farm boy with a hankering to be a great baseball player. With his faithful homemade bat "Wonderboy" in hand, Roy heads to the big city. En route, he arouses the fascination of the mysterious Harriet Bird (Barbara Hershey). Luring the boy to a hotel room, Harriet asks Roy what he wants out of life. Roy brashly responds he wants to be "the best there is," whereupon Harriet whips out a gun and shoots Roy down. Sixteen years later, a humbler Roy Hobbs emerges from the bush leagues to become a 35-year-old "rookie" on the 1939 lineup of the New York Knights. He soon becomes the team's star player, and in so doing once more attracts enigmatic woman Memo Paris (Kim Basinger), the glamorous niece of the Knights' manager Pop Fisher (Wilford Brimley) and the mistress of Rothstein-like gambler Gus Sands (a curiously unbilled Darren McGavin). Roy's fascination with Memo compromises his ability to play, but this time he finds salvation in the form the angelic Iris Gaines (Glenn Close), his childhood sweetheart. From this point forward, the script for The Natural bears very little resemblance to the Malamud original. Without giving anything away, it can be said that Roy Hobbs is given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to compensate for the mistakes of his youth, despite the demonic intrusion of inexplicably spiteful sports writer Max Mercy (Robert Duvall). The Natural elevates the art of slow-motion photography to new heights; while this technique would become precious and boring in later baseball films, it works beautifully here, as does the decision by director Barry Levinson and cinematographer Caleb Deschanel to convey the symbolism inherent in the story in purely visual rather than blatantly verbal terms. (If the characters told you that the story was a retelling of the Camelot legend in baseball terms, would you have watched?) Another plus is the pastoral theme music by Randy Newman, which has been well utilized on sports broadcasts and "human interest" TV documentaries ever since. The baseball scenes in The Natural were staged at War Memorial Stadium in Buffalo, New York.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Dave Roth
Few films about baseball have passed the most important sports-film test. That is, to be as illuminating or enjoyable as watching the sport itself. Barry Levinson's The Natural, a very loose adaptation of Bernard Malamud's novel, passes this test. In fact, The Natural, despite a few nagging flaws, is quite possibly the best film ever made about baseball. Baseball has its own narrative, comprising dramas, tragedies, comedies, and morality plays. Like baseball, The Naturalis an odyssey, beginning when farmboy Roy Hobbs (Robert Redford) fashions himself a homemade bat -- called "Wonderbat" -- that takes him all the way to the big leagues before a scheming Siren (Barbara Hershey) sends him plummeting back to mortal territory. But Hobbs, like any good baseball player, has a chance for redemption late in the game -- and whether or not he makes good on that depends on how you see his story: through Malamud's book or Levinson's film. Cinematographer Caleb Deschanel does beautiful, sun-drenched, slow-motion work here, and even if he and Levinson come closer to elevating baseball to mythic levels than Malamud might have liked, it's hard to argue with the way it works. Ditto for golden-boy slugger Redford: if not quite as complicated as he was in the novel, he still makes an appealing hero. Baseball fans may still be waiting for the perfect baseball film, but The Natural, with several all-star caliber moments, compares favorably with a day in the park.
All Movie Guide
Based on Bernard Malamud's book, Barry Levinson's baseball epic is a carefully-wound extrapolation of the original. The all-American Robert Redford's Biblical qualities made him the perfect fit for wunderkind player Roy Hobbs. The plot takes shape slowly, drawn out in painstaking detail to make the payoff all the more memorable. As the three women Roy encounters, Barbara Hershey, Kim Basinger and Glenn Close all turn in solid performances as Roy's three fates. This is an outstanding sports film that adds even more romanticism to baseball lore. Caleb Deschanel's amber-tinged cinematography supplies the film with its striking look. Randy Newman's music bolsters the romantic feel, upping the film's Americana quotient. Although it is first and foremost a topnotch baseball film it also lends itself to a variety of interpretations dealing with fate, American heritage, and the metaphysical. Levinson's patient and textured direction combined with a focused and engrossing storyline make this a unique picture.

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Product Details

Release Date:
04/06/2010
UPC:
0043396184541
Original Release:
1984
Rating:
PG
Source:
Sony Pictures
Presentation:
[Wide Screen]
Sound:
[Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Time:
2:18:00
Sales rank:
12,419

Special Features

Featurettes: When Lighting Strikes: Creating The Natural; Pre-Game: A Novelist Steps Up To The Plate; The Line-Up: Assembling The Movie Making Team; Let's Play Ball: Filming The Show; ; Clubhouse Conversations; A Natural Gunned Down: The Stalking Of Eddie Waitkus; Knights In Shining Armor: The Mythology of The Natural ; Extra Innings; The Heart of The Natural

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Robert Redford Roy Hobbs
Robert Duvall Max Mercy
Glenn Close Iris Gaines
Kim Basinger Memo Paris
Wilford Brimley Pop Fisher
Barbara Hershey Harriet Bird
Robert Prosky The Judge
Richard Farnsworth Red Blow
Joe Don Baker The Whammer
John Finnegan Sam Simpson
Alan Fudge Ed Hobbs
Paul Sullivan Young Roy
Rachel Hall Young Iris
Robert III Rich Teb Hobbs
Michael Madsen Bump Bailey
Danny Aiello Emil LaJang
Joe Castellano Allie Stubs
Eddie Cipot Gabby Laslow
Sam Green Murphy
Barry Kivel Pat McGee
Elizabeth Ann Klein Stern Nurse
Darren McGavin Gus Sands
Bernie McInerney Hospital Doctor
Mike Starr Boone
Joseph Strand Home Plate Umpire at Final Game
Ralph Tabakin Al's Customer
Jon Van Ness John Olsen
Gayle Vance Maid at Party
Edward Walsh Newsreel Presenter

Technical Credits
Barry Levinson Director
Mel Bourne Production Designer
Philip Breen Executive Producer
Robert F. Colesberry Associate Producer
Patrick Crowley Asst. Director
Caleb Deschanel Cinematographer
Phil Dusenberry Screenwriter
Angelo P. Graham Production Designer
Gloria Gresham Costumes/Costume Designer
Speed Hopkins Art Director
Stu Linder Editor
Mark Johnson Producer
Chris McLaughlin Sound/Sound Designer
James Murakami Art Director
Randy Newman Score Composer
Bernie Pollack Costumes/Costume Designer
Chris Soldo Asst. Director
Roger Towne Executive Producer,Screenwriter
Bruce Weintraub Set Decoration/Design
Jeff Wexler Musical Direction/Supervision,Sound/Sound Designer
Bernard Malamud Source Author

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