The Naturals – Movie Review Example
The Natural:” Not a Tragedy, but a Romance. “The Natural is a film directed by Barry Levison and based on Bernard Malamud’s short story. It is a reflection of Roy Hobbs’ life (played by Robert Redford). At age 19, Hobbs is recruited by the Chicago Cubs. Hobbs wins a wager that he can strike out the best baseball player known to the public, “The Whammer.” Harriet Bird, an evil woman, seduces Hobbs because of his skill. There is a time lapse of another sixteen years and Hobbs rises to stardom with the New York Knights, co-owned by Pop Fisher. The corrupt other owner, The Judge, tries to get Hobbs to fail by bribing and illicit persuasion, because a contract snaff allows the Judge full ownership if the Knights don’t win the pennant. Though Hobbs won’t cheat, his introduction to the beautiful Memo Paris marks a decline in Hobbs performance on the field. He gets set right by a chance meeting with his childhood sweetheart, Iris, but the Knights falter and need to win a playoff game to take the pennant. Hobbs bats at the bottom of the ninth, and lightning flashes as he hits. His magical bat from his childhood, named “Wonderboy” shatters and the batboy brings Hobbs a new bat that they made together. The Knights win the pennant, and the last scene is Hobbs playing catch with his son in a wheat field, while Iris watches and smiles. In essence, this film is a romance and not a tragedy, complete with full-circle happy ending.
Roy Hobbs has three distinct romances: baseball, women and his childhood. Hobbs aptitude for baseball makes him a “natural,” and his capacity to do this makes him spiral to success. At the same time, this romance and talent he has with baseball and the iconic vestiges of baseball (for example, him carving his own bat, the uniform, the ball) bring on his second romance, women.
Women are very attracted to Hobbs because of his baseball talent- all but his childhood sweetheart, Iris, who presumably loves him for who he is despite his ambitions of becoming a star baseball player. Harriet Bird and Memo Paris are attracted to Hobbs because of his talent and his recognition for his talent more than how baseball makes him a better man. Iris and her less superficial affections make Hobbs a better player as well as a better man.
Hobbs’ childhood and his connection to his father through baseball are his third love, and the romance that he ultimately comes back to by settling down with Iris. Hobbs seems to play baseball to rekindle a camaraderie with his father, and the cyclical nature of this need is seen in the first scene and the last. Baseball makes Hobbs’ childhood longings more pronounced, and is echoed in his relationship with his batboy and the breaking of the bat during the pennant game.
The end of the film seems like the positive end of a romance because all three of his loves meet, simultaneously. Hobbs has his baseball in the world of his son, his memories and perhaps the potential Hobbs son has. He has a woman who loves him for who he is, not what is he to baseball or who he can be. And Hobbs has childhood, because he gets to live with his son and be there for his son’s youth. Hobbs is part of a happy family unit, one that went unfulfilled when we meet him and his father in his first scene. Really, the film is about attaining this familial state and the intersection of all of these loves for Hobbs, and not so much about his career as a “natural” in baseball.
Iris and Hobbs son grounds him in reality, and this reality is what Hobbs was always searching for. Though Iris was not a major part of Hobbs life, her memory and the idea of women and childhood and family grounded Hobbs and made him a good man. At the same time, Hobbs was always yearning to get back to this state.
In conclusion, the film “The Natural” is not a tragedy, but a romance. This is maintained by the last scene, a happy ending to the film. In this scene, we see an intersection of Hobbs’ three romances: women, childhood and baseball. When they come together, the emptiness and confusion of Hobbs’ life is over, and he is happy.