Field of Dreams is based on the novel
Shoeless Joe by W. P. Kinsella. When I first heard of this film, I wondered if I’d like a movie about baseball and father/son relationships that takes place largely in a cornfield in Iowa. It is now one of my favorite films, and the perfect DVD to buy your Dad for Father’s Day.
Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) is an average guy with a wife Annie (Amy Madigan) and a daughter Karen (Gaby Hoffman). His life has been uneventful until one day he hears a voice: “If you build it, he will come.” Ray deciphers this to mean that he should build a baseball field. Annie supports this vision of his, and Ray plows under a good portion of his crop of corn in order to build it. And they wait to see who will come.
Eventually, a ghostly figure appears on the field. It is Shoeless Joe Jackson (Ray Liotta), and a short while later several of the Chicago White Sox show up for practice. But that is not the end of it. Ray hears another message that sets him off on a cross-country journey to Boston to seek out a reclusive writer and former activist from the 1960’s, Terence Mann (James Earl Jones).
That’s all the plot you really need. Sit back and enjoy as Ray’s magical journey unfolds. This is the most appealing and engaging Kevin Costner has ever been in a film. His Ray is truly the "everyman" here that he embodies so well. Amy Madigan plays Ray’s wife Annie just right: a spunky, opinionated woman who is loyal to her husband and encourages his dreams. For me, that is the best part of the film; watching Ray and Annie sort out what the voice is trying to tell them, and then taking the action to create a little bit of heaven on earth. The appearance of James Earl Jones as the writer Terence Mann is a bit of casting genius. His sonorous voice convinces Ray and us that keeping the field, even though others think it’s crazy, is the right thing to do. It’s really a message about how we must keep building our dreams.
Phil Alden Robinson, who also directed the film, wrote the screenplay. The film and the screenplay were nominated for Academy Awards, but lost to Driving Miss Daisy that year. The music is perfect for the action. This was Burt Lancaster’s last film, and his playing Archibald “Moonlight” Graham (an actual person that Mr. Robinson found in a baseball encyclopedia) seems a fitting way to leave us.
It is a tribute to the film that the baseball field created for the movie in Dyersville, Iowa still draws hundreds of tourists a year who go there hoping to touch a bit of the magic they felt from seeing Field of Dreams. And if you’d like some help creating your own little bit of heaven on earth, get
Building Your Field Of Dreams by Mary Manin Morrissey. The book is well written, easy and interesting to read, and I believe it can be useful no matter what your spiritual beliefs.