I find baseball cinematic. That perception in regard to movies is not exactly a ground-breaking one. How can you not be romantic about baseball? Away, for now, from the actual baseball movies out there I wanted to take a few minutes to enlighten you on my own creative work in regard to this sport. I mean, of the screenplays I have written, the only one you might call a sports movie is Low Down Heaven – except the sport there is swimming. And I have not written a direct baseball movie as such, but I have certainly referenced it.
Set in Abilene, Texas, Love Belle features the Chekesa family, and they are Texas Rangers fans. But that is as far as the references go with that one. In an early, very digressive, draft of Jennifer Rose and the Coffee Shop Culture, there was a basic bat and ball scene in a back garden. Now, the only relevance to baseball is the Red Sox as Jennifer Rose talks about her life since she moved to Boston. And then we have the twin kids Corey and Mercy in American Sinners. Both are originally from Philadelphia, so are Phillies fans. Corey more so, whose Phillies baseball cap was, in grief, inherited by Mercy since the death of their parents – Corey was wearing the hat on the fatal night.
Ruby Fischer opens with the eleven year-old girl of the title watching a Seattle Mariners game on the TV of her babysitter Elsa. Partially set in Seattle, baseball is one of the passions of the girl – a game she could sit and watch for hours. The baseball theme comes full circle at the end of the movie, when Elsa relates a tough choice Ruby has to make about her parents to the potential events in a baseball game. That for example if she hits a home-run she could give her parents another chance. Perhaps striving to get the home-run would push Ruby towards what she really wants to do – even if she thinks she has not made that decision yet. When Ruby plays baseball at the children’s home, with the other kids, she eventually hits the ball out of the park. We see a pride in her little face that transcends the home-run, but that she has made her final decision.
|Excerpt from ‘A Gentle Rise and Fall’
Set in Boston a year prior to the 2004 curse-breaking World Series win, A Gentle Rise and Fall‘s narrative embraces this moment in history very thinly. The movie is about ups and downs in all shapes and forms, mainly the unsettled respective lives of the main characters Jacey and Red. The male protagonist of the love story, Red, is a huge Red Sox fan, and baseball in general. His love for the game is illustrated in various moments in the screenplay. He watches the game. A couple of times Red is aimlessly swinging a baseball bat, or rolling a baseball around in his hands. He is seen earlier too playing with a foam bat and ball with Willoughby, the son of a woman he was “involved” with. Red discusses the game sporadically with Marty, an elderly man at the nursing home. They share an enthusiasm, like many Red Sox fans of that time, that 2004 would be their year.
With Jacey, the female half in the love story, rolls her eyes at Red wwhen he mentions baseball, revealing his love for the sport. Jacey implies you ought to love baseball, if you are stuck in Boston. The very subject of sport spoken by Jacey is used in a similarly metaphorical sense later when she casually took an interest in the Patriots in conformity when she married her husband Duane. She does not particular like sport as much as she does not particularly like her husband. Jacey’s baseball reference to being stuck in Boston signals early on that she feels trapped in her marriage rather than Boston itself. When Red and Jacey are sadly forced to drift apart, they both in their own ways follow the Red Sox triumphant season, highlighting Jacey’s longing for Red. The feeling is indeed mutual. Will this be their year?