A Counter-Intuitive Interpretation of The Natural, Or, Your First Good Laugh of the Day, Plus a Challenge

I watched The Natural before and after reading the eponymous book by Malamud—which, needless to say, is about the exact opposite of the movie. My second viewing of the movie, however, left me with an unshakeable, almost indescribable sense that the movie actually was true to the book.

The movie is so mythical in tone, so non-subtle with its use of light and darkness, its soundtrack, its redemption theme—plus the outlandish events, not just Wonderboy, or hitting the cover off the ball, or hitting the lights out of the stadium, but even Bump Bailey dying by running into the outfield wall. I couldn’t help but feel that the director of the movie actually pushed the movie over the edge of sentimental melodrama into a gray area of self-parody. However, this is done so subtly, and its effects are so cumulative, that you can still get caught up in the majesty of the specific moments and find your body pulsing with adrenaline and your eyes welling up.

So what I’m saying, basically, is that movie is so unsubtle that it actually subtly undermines its unsubtlety. It simultaneously trundles the myth of baseball as our national pastime all the way up to be enshrined on Mount Olympus, while also turning back and winking, ever so gently suggesting that the whole spectacle is kind of ridiculous.

I know that this all doesn’t really make sense. But it is a nagging feeling that sticks with me today.

So all you Barrelhousers, pick a book or a movie or something else and give us your unique, counter-intuitive interpretation of a work of pop culture or serious art.

1 comment:

Mike said...

Perhaps Crash was really a tongue-in-cheek parody of all the Magnolia-inspired intersecting lives films. Like a 2-hour Saturday Night Live sketch (it certainly had the subtlety of a 2-hour SNL sketch).

Also, Showgirls sucked on purpose.