• TOP NOTCH (my top choices)
• HONORABLE MENTION (well worth watching)
• YOU MIGHT WANT TO CONSIDER (I like them but you might not)
• CLASSICS (Great movies up through the 1960s - many don't have any rating)

Robert Redford, Robert Duvall, Glenn Close   

Summary -  An unknown comes out of seemingly nowhere to become a legendary player with almost divine talent.

Cautions - The themes are more grown up so I don't know if I'd recommend it for the under 8 crowd.

Commentary -  There is no doubt that the Natural is beautifully shot, costumed and acted. It's exciting to see a story echoing the classic mythological themes of Arthurian legends (like Percival and the Holy Grail) and the Odessy but in the context of something as classically American as baseball. For some viewers, the mythological aspects of the movie may be too much to handle but if you are willing to see it through that lens, I think you'll get a lot out of it.

I've seen this movie a lot of times but in recent years I've felt an inconsistency in the film's own interior mythology especially toward the end. Our main character is supposed to be a flawed hero - a man with a gift from the gods who wished to wield it only for personal gain. As a result, he is struck down and exiled. When he returns, a humbler man with quite a bit more life experience, he seeks to use his gift to obtain the "Holy Grail" for the glory of others but soon finds himself caught in the snare of honor, fame and conniving women. Eventually he is pulled back on track by the messenger of the gods (Iris).

It's at this point in the story where I feel that the consistency seems to fall apart a bit. It may just be that Redford doesn't really sell the flawed-hero as clearly as I think it needs to. He's just too likeable.

My critical musing aside, it is a well crafted and visually beautiful film. The standout performances for me are Glenn Close and the score of Randy Newman, both of whom were nominated for an Academy Award.

NOTE: I really recommend the director's cut if you can get it. As of this writing it's only available on DVD. The new cut of the opening is much superior to the theatrical cut.


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