Field of Dreams (1989)


Field of Dreams is a 1989 American drama-sports-fantasy film directed and adapted by Phil Alden Robinson from the novel Shoeless Joe by W. P. Kinsella. The movie stars Kevin Costner, Amy Madigan, Gaby Hoffmann, Ray Liotta, Timothy Busfield, James Earl Jones, Frank Whaley, and Burt Lancaster in his last film appearance. Field of Dreams was nominated for three Academy Awards including Best Music, Original Score and Best Picture.


Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) is a novice farmer who lives in rural Iowa with his wife, Annie (Amy Madigan), and their young daughter Karin (Gaby Hoffmann). While walking through his cornfield, Ray hears a voice whisper, "If you build it, he will come" (often misquoted as "If you build it, they will come"), and sees a vision of a baseball field. Believing he is somehow being asked to build it, and fearing he is in danger of "turning into" his father—whom he resented for his lack of spontaneity—Ray strongly wishes to do so. Although skeptical, Annie is supportive. Watched by disbelieving neighbors, Ray plows under his corn and builds the field. A year passes without incident. Ray and Annie are eventually forced to consider replacing the field with corn to stay financially solvent. At this point Karin sees a man on the ballfield who Ray discovers is Shoeless Joe Jackson (Ray Liotta), a baseball player idolized by his father. Joe is thrilled to be able to play baseball again and asks to bring others with him to the field. He later returns with the seven other players banned in the 1919 Black Sox scandal, emerging from the corn by the outfield. Soon after, Ray is told by his brother-in-law Mark (Timothy Busfield)—who cannot see the players—that he will go bankrupt unless he replants the crop. Ray later hears the voice say "ease his pain." After attending a PTA Meeting which involves a heated discussion over the books of 1960s author and activist Terence Mann (James Earl Jones), Ray decides the voice is referring to Mann who has since become a recluse. Mann wrote that as a child he dreamed of playing with the Dodgers at Ebbets Field but was never able to. Although reluctant for another expensive flight of fancy, Annie agrees for Ray to find the author in Boston, after they share a dream of the two men watching a baseball game together. Although Mann rebuffs Ray's initial approaches, Ray eventually persuades him to attend an Oakland Athletics vs. Boston Red Sox baseball game at Fenway Park. Ray hears the voice again, which urges him to "go the distance." While looking at the scoreboard, he sees a statistic for a 1922 baseball player named Archibald "Moonlight" Graham (Burt Lancaster), who played one major league game for the New York Giants, but never had an at bat. Terence initially claims ignorance, and Ray apologizes and returns him home. When Ray performs a U-turn in his van, he suddenly sees Mann standing on the other side of the street, who then admits to Ray that he did indeed see "Moonlight" Graham on the jumbotron. The two travel to Minnesota to find Graham. Arriving at Chisholm, the pair discover at the Chisholm Tribune Press that Dr. Archibald W. "Moonlight" Graham died 16 years earlier and they return to their motel, confused. That night, while out walking, Ray sees ads for The Godfather and Re-elect President Nixon, and realizes he has gone back in time to 1972, the year of Graham's death. Ray quickly finds him, and the two talk about Graham's quitting baseball. Although Graham says he still dreams of playing baseball, he says that if he never worked in medicine, that would have been a greater disappointment. Ray offers to fulfill his dream, but Graham politely declines, joking that he better get home before his wife thinks he has a girlfriend, and Ray returns to the present. The Field of Dreams, Dyersville, IA—May 2006. Ray then returns, with Terence, to Iowa. On their way, they pick up a young hitchhiker who introduces himself as Archie Graham (Frank Whaley) — the young "Moonlight" Graham. On the way, Ray reveals to Terence that he came to resent his father growing up, and at age 14, refused to play catch with his dad, and left when he was 17. He has regretted it ever since. At the farm, enough players have now appeared to play regular games. Graham joins the other players who tease him for his youth and enthusiasm. He finally gets a chance to bat, hitting a sacrifice fly. Mark — still unable to see the baseball players — arrives at the farm the next morning to try to convince Ray to sell as he and his partners have bought the mortgage. Karin says Ray doesn't have to sell the farm, saying "people will come" and pay to watch the ball games. Picking up the thread, Terence says "people will come" to relive their childhood innocence, "for it's money they have and peace they lack." After some hesitation, Ray refuses to sell. A frustrated Mark scuffles with Ray and accidentally knocks Karin off the bleachers. She lies on the ground, unconscious and not breathing. "Moonlight" Graham runs over and, after a moment's hesitation, crosses the field boundary, instantly becoming the old "Doc" Graham. He quickly recognizes that Karin is choking and causes her to cough up the hotdog blocking her throat. Ray realizes that Graham has sacrificed his youthful form and cannot return to the field as a player and apologizes profusely. After reassuring Ray that he was meant not for baseball, but for medicine, Graham walks to the outfield, receiving commendation from the players for saving Karin, who make statements such as "Good work, Doctor", before Graham disappears into the corn. Mark, in shock over what just occurred and now able to see all of the players, urges Ray not to sell the farm. As the players return to the cornfield, Joe invites Terence to join them. Ray is angry at not being invited, but Terence admits to having given the nostalgic interview about Ebbets Field (which he had previously denied), realizing that this is how he can regain his youthful passion for writing, and he convinces Ray to stay behind to take care of his family. He approaches the corn and chuckles as he walks into the stalks and disappears. Shoeless Joe then says to Ray, "If you build it, he will come", and glances toward a player (Dwier Brown) near home plate in catcher's equipment. The player removes his mask and Ray recognizes his father as a young man. Ray, then, assumes that the voice he'd heard was Shoeless Joe's. But Joe informs Ray that the voice he'd heard, all along, was his own. Ray introduces his father to Karin, catching himself before telling Karin this man is her grandfather, and introducing him simply as "John". After a brief exchange, his father heads toward the outfield to leave. Ray, finally and emotionally addressing him as "Dad", asks if he would like to play catch. His father smiles and says he would like that. As they begin tossing the ball back and forth, the view pulls back to reveal a trail of car headlights approaching the field, extending to the horizon.