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Field of Dreams

Field of Dreams
File:Field of Dreams poster.jpg
Promotional poster by Olga Kaljakin
Directed by Phil Alden Robinson
Produced by Lawrence Gordon
Charles Gordon
Screenplay by Phil Alden Robinson
Based on Shoeless Joe 
by W.P. Kinsella
Music by James Horner
Cinematography John Lindley
Edited by Ian Crafford
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release dates
  • April 21, 1989 (1989-04-21)
Running time
107 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $15 million[2][3]
Box office $84.4 million[4]

Field of Dreams is a 1989 American fantasy-drama film directed by Phil Alden Robinson, who also wrote the screenplay, adapting W. P. Kinsella's novel Shoeless Joe. It stars Kevin Costner, Amy Madigan, James Earl Jones, Ray Liotta and Burt Lancaster in his final role. The film was nominated for three Academy Awards: Best Original Score, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture.


Ray Kinsella is a novice Iowa farmer who lives with his wife Annie and daughter Karin. In the opening narration, Ray explains how he had a troubled relationship with his father, John Kinsella, who had been a devoted baseball fan. While walking through his cornfield one evening, Ray hears a voice whispering, "If you build it, he will come." Ray continues hearing the voice before finally seeing a vision of a baseball diamond in his field. Annie is skeptical of his vision, but she allows Ray to plow the corn under in order to build a baseball field. As Ray builds the field, he tells Karin the story of baseball's 1919 Black Sox Scandal. As months pass and nothing happens at the field, Ray's family faces financial ruin until, one night, Karin spots a uniformed man in the field. Ray discovers that the man is Shoeless Joe Jackson, a deceased baseball player idolized by Ray's father. Thrilled to be able to play baseball again, Joe asks to bring others to the field to play. He later returns with the seven other players banned as a result of the 1919 scandal.

Ray's brother-in-law, Mark, cannot see the baseball players and warns Ray that he will go bankrupt unless he replants his crops. While in the field, Ray hears the voice again, this time urging him to "ease his pain."

Ray attends a PTA meeting at which the possible banning of books by radical author Terence Mann is discussed. Ray decides the voice was referring to Mann. Ray comes across a magazine interview dealing with Mann's childhood dream of playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers. After Ray and Ann both dream about Ray and Mann attending a baseball game together at Fenway Park, Ray convinces his wife that he should seek out Mann. Ray heads to Boston and persuades a reluctant, embittered Mann to attend a game with him at Fenway. While at the ballpark, Ray again hears the voice; this time urging him to "go the distance." At the same time, the scoreboard "shows" statistics for a player named Archibald "Moonlight" Graham, who played one game for the New York Giants in 1922, but never had a turn at bat. After leaving the game, Mann eventually admits that he, too, saw the scoreboard vision.

Ray and Mann then travel to Chisholm, Minnesota where they learn that Graham had become a doctor and had died sixteen years earlier. During a late night walk, Ray finds himself in 1972 and encounters the then-living Graham, who states that he had moved on from his baseball career. He also tells Ray that the greater disappointment would have been not having a medical career. Graham declines Ray's invitation to fulfill his dream; however, during the drive back to Iowa, Ray picks up a young hitchhiker who introduces himself as Graham. While Graham sleeps, Ray reveals to Mann that he had denounced Shoeless Joe as a criminal to his father and that was the reason for the rift between father and son. After the fight, Ray refused to play catch with his father; something that he now regrets. When the three arrive back at Ray's farm, they find that enough players have arrived to field two teams. A game is played and Graham is finally going to get his turn at bat.

The Field of Dreams, Dyersville, IA—May 2006.

The next morning, Mark returns and demands that Ray sell the farm. Karin, munching on a hot dog, says that they will not need to sell because people will pay to watch the ball games. Mann agrees, saying that "people will come" in order to relive their childhood innocence. Ray, after much thought, refuses to sell and a frustrated Mark scuffles with him. Karin is accidentally knocked off the bleachers during the scuffle. The young Graham runs from the diamond to help, becoming old "Doc" Graham the instant he steps off of the field, and saves Karin from choking. Ray realizes that Graham sacrificed his young self in order to save Ray's daughter. After reassuring Ray that his true calling was medicine and being commended by the other players, Graham leaves. Suddenly, Mark is able to see the players and urges Ray not to sell the farm.

After the game, Shoeless Joe invites Mann to enter the cornfield; Mann accepts and disappears into the corn. Ray is angry at not being invited, but Joe rebukes him: if Ray really wants a reward for having sacrificed so much, then Ray had better stay on the field. Joe then glances towards home plate, saying "If you build it, he will come". The catcher then removes his mask, and Ray recognizes him to be his father as a young man. Shocked, Ray surmises that "ease his pain" referred to Joe; however, Joe counters that the voice was referring to Ray himself.

Ray introduces his father to Annie and Karin. As his father heads towards the cornfield, Ray asks him if he wants to have a catch. They begin to play and Annie happily watches. Meanwhile, hundreds of cars can be seen approaching the baseball field, fulfilling Karin and Mann's prophecy that people will come to watch baseball.




Phil Alden Robinson read Shoeless Joe in 1981 and liked the book so much that he brought it to producers Lawrence Gordon and Charles Gordon. Lawrence Gordon worked for 20th Century Fox, part of the time as its president, and repeatedly mentioned that the book should be adapted into a movie. The studio, however, always turned down the suggestion because they felt the project was too esoteric and noncommercial. Meanwhile, Robinson went ahead with his script, frequently consulting W. P. Kinsella, the book's author, for advice on the adaptation. Lawrence Gordon left Fox in 1986 and started pitching (no pun intended), the Shoeless Joe adaptation to other studios. Universal Studios accepted the project in 1987 and hired USC coach Rod Dedeaux as baseball advisor. Dedeaux brought along World Series champion and USC alumnus Don Buford to coach the actors.[5]

The film was shot using the novel's title; eventually, an executive decision was made to rename it Field of Dreams. Robinson did not like the idea saying he loved 'Shoeless Joe,' and that the new title was better suited for a movie about dreams deferred. Later, Kinsella told Robinson that the author's originally chosen title for the book had been The Dream Field and that the title Shoeless Joe had been imposed by the publisher.[6]


Robinson and the producers did not originally consider Kevin Costner for the part of Ray because they did not think that he would want to follow Bull Durham with another baseball movie. Costner, however, did end up reading the script and became interested in the project, stating that he felt the movie would be "this generation's It's a Wonderful Life". Since Robinson's directing debut In the Mood had been a commercial failure, Costner also said that he would help Robinson with the production. Amy Madigan, a fan of the book, joined the cast as Ray's wife. In the book, the writer Ray seeks out is real-life author J.D. Salinger. When Salinger threatened the production with a lawsuit if his name was used, Robinson decided to rewrite the character as reclusive Terence Mann. He wrote with James Earl Jones in mind because he thought it would be fun to see Ray Kinsella trying to kidnap such a big man. Robinson had originally envisioned Shoeless Joe Jackson as being played by an actor in his 40s, someone who would be older than Costner and who could thereby act as a father surrogate. Ray Liotta did not fit that criterion, but Robinson thought he would be a better fit for the part because Liotta had the "sense of danger" and ambiguity which Robinson wanted in the character. Burt Lancaster had originally turned down the part of Doc Graham, but changed his mind after a friend, who was also a baseball fan, told Lancaster that he had to work on the movie.[5]


Filming began on May 25, 1988. The shooting schedule was built around the Costner's availability because he would be leaving in August to film Revenge. Except for some weather delays and other time constraints, production rolled six days a week. The interior scenes were the first ones shot because the cornfield planted by the filmmakers was taking too long to grow. Irrigation had to be used to quickly grow the corn to Costner's height. Primary shot locations were in Dubuque County, Iowa; a farm near Dyersville was used for the Kinsella home; an empty warehouse in Dubuque was used to build various interior sets. Galena, Illinois served as Moonlight Graham's Chisholm, Minnesota.[5] One week was spent on location shots in Boston, most notably Fenway Park.[7]

Robinson, despite having a sufficient budget as well as the cast and crew he wanted, constantly felt tense and depressed during filming. He felt that he was under too much pressure to create an outstanding film and that he was not doing the justice to the original novel. Lawrence Gordon convinced him that the end product would be effective.[5]

During a lunch with the Iowa Chamber of Commerce, Robinson broached his idea of a final scene in which headlights could be seen for miles along the horizon. The Chamber folks replied that it could be done and the shooting of the final scene became a community event. The film crew was hidden on the farm to make sure the aerial shots did not reveal them. Dyersville was then blacked out and local extras drove their vehicles to the field. In order to give the illusion of movement, the drivers were instructed to continuously switch between their low and high beams.


Scenes of the Kinsella farm were taken on the property of Don Lansing; some of the baseball field scenes were shot on the neighboring farm of Al Amsekamp. Because the shooting schedule was too short for grass to naturally grow, the experts on sod laying responsible for Dodger Stadium and the Rose Bowl were hired to create the baseball field. Part of the process involved painting the turf green. [5]

After shooting, Amsekamp again grew corn on his property; Lansing maintained his as a tourist destination.[5] He did not charge for admission or parking, deriving revenue solely from the souvenir shop. By the movie's twentieth anniversary, approximately 65,000 people visited annually.[8] In July, 2010, the farm containing the "Field" was listed as for sale.[9] It was sold on October 31, 2011, to Go The Distance Baseball, LLC, for an undisclosed fee, believed to be around $5.4 million.[10]

Mike and Denise Stillman, Chicago based developers and the primary owners of Go The Distance, purchased the baseball diamond and surrounding Script error: No such module "convert". parcel of land in order to construct a 24 baseball-diamond sports training complex, to be called All-Star Ballpark Heaven, adjacent to the original movie site.[citation needed] In response, neighboring farmers and residents formed the Residential and Agricultural Advisory Committee LLC (RAAC). On September 4, 2012, the RAAC sued the City of Dyersville, claiming that the city had improperly taken away their property rights by having created a Script error: No such module "convert". buffer zone during the rezoning and annexation process leading up to the purchase. The rezoning had occurred to permit the planned development; the buffer zone's inclusion in the rezoning removed the adjacent property owners' legal rights to oppose the project in any way. On October 12, 2012, in response to the RAAC suit, the Stillmans sued the RAAC for defamation, interference with GO the Distance's ability to purchase the land, and their company's ability to receive a $16.5 million state tax rebate.[citation needed] On October 17, 2012, a Facebook page, called "Save the Field of Dreams", was created by Los Angeles-based movie trailer editor David Blanchard to oppose the location of the planned All-Star Ballpark Heaven. Blanchard claimed the development would destroy the movie site's one-of-a-kind allure and that it would also have an adverse effect on the neighboring farmers' ability to stay in business.[citation needed] The lawsuit between the RAAC and Go the Distance was dropped by mutual agreement on December 19, 2013. A February 16, 2015, trial date was set regarding the RAAC's lawsuit against the City of Dyersville.[citation needed] In April, 2014, the 25th anniversary of the movie's release, the Des Moines Register presented a multi-part series and documentary on its website detailing the history of the Field of Dreams Movie Site as well as the controversy surrounding the All-Star Ballpark Heaven. The paper's series brought the current controversy surrounding the site to the attention of the national media.[citation needed] As of August, 2014, almost two years after the sale of the property, no construction has started on the All-Star Ballpark Heaven sports complex.[citation needed]


At first, James Horner was unsure if he could work on Field of Dreams due to scheduling restrictions. Then he watched a rough cut and was so moved that he accepted the job of scoring the film. Robinson had created a temp track which was disliked by Universal executives. When the announcement of Horner as composer was made, they felt more positive because they expected a big orchestral score, similar to Horner's work for An American Tail. Horner, in contrast, liked the temporary score, finding it "quiet and kind of ghostly." He decided to follow the idea of the temp track, creating an atmospheric soundtrack which would "focus on the emotions".[5] In addition to Horner's score, portions of several pop songs are heard during the film. They are listed in the following order in the closing credits:

Historical connections

The character played by Burt Lancaster and Frank Whaley, Archibald "Moonlight" Graham, is based on an actual baseball player with the same name. Graham's character is largely true to life except for a few factual liberties taken for artistic reasons. For instance, the real Graham's lone major league game occurred in June, 1905,[11] rather than on the final day of the 1922 season. In the movie, Terence Mann interviews a number of people about Doc Graham. The DVD special points out that the facts these people give Graham were taken from articles written about the real man.

Release and reception

Universal scheduled Field of Dreams to open in the U.S. on May 21, 1989, one week before Memorial Day. It debuted in just a few theaters and was gradually released to more screens so that it would have a spot among the summer blockbusters. It ended up playing until December.[5]

Critics responded positively to the film. As of May 2014, review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes scores the movie at 87%, making it "Certified Fresh" (based on 54 reviews with an average score of 7.9 out of 10). The consensus states "Field of Dreams" is sentimental, but in the best way; it's a mix of fairy tale, baseball, and family togetherness."[12]


In June 2008, after having polling over 1,500 people in the creative community, AFI revealed its "Ten Top Ten" — the best ten films in ten "classic" American film genres. Field of Dreams was acknowledged as the sixth best film in the fantasy genre.[13][14]

American Film Institute Lists

See also


  1. ^ "'Field of Dreams' (1989)". IMDb. Retrieved March 19, 2015. 
  2. ^ Laff at the Movies (April 20, 2012). "Review: "Touchback" Is an Inspiring Drama that Will Make You Smile". Grand Rapids, MI: WOOD-TV. Retrieved August 26, 2013. 
  3. ^ "'Field of Dreams'". Retrieved August 26, 2013. 
  4. ^ "Box Office Information for 'Field of Dreams'". Box Office Mojo. August 26, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h "The 'Field of Dreams' Scrapbook". Field of Dreams (DVD). [full citation needed]
  6. ^ Easton, Nina J. (April 21, 1989). "Diamonds Are Forever : Director Fields the Lost Hopes of Adolescence". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 19, 2015. 
  7. ^ "Production Notes". Field of Dreams (DVD). [full citation needed]
  8. ^ King, Susan (December 15, 2009). "'Field of Dreams' Screens to Mark 20th Anniversary". Los Angeles Times. 
  9. ^ Grossfeld, Stan (July 20, 2010). "Living in a Dream World?". Boston Globe. Retrieved July 20, 2010. 
  10. ^ Wilson, Greg (October 31, 2011). "'Field of Dreams' Iowa Farm Sold for Millions". Chicago: WMAQ-TV. Retrieved August 1, 2012. 
  11. ^ "Moonlight Graham". Retrieved June 5, 2010. 
  12. ^ "'Field of Dreams'". Rotten Tomatoes. 
  13. ^ "AFI Crowns Top 10 Films in 10 Classic Genres" (Press release). American Film Institute. June 17, 2008. Retrieved June 18, 2008 – via 
  14. ^ "Top 10 Fantasy". American Film Institute. Archived from the original on June 19, 2008. Retrieved June 18, 2008. 
  15. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies Nominees" (PDF). American Film Institute. Retrieved March 19, 2015. 
  16. ^ "AFI's 100 Years of Film Scores: Honoring America’s Greatest Film Music" (PDF) (Official ballot). American Film Institute. Retrieved March 19, 2015. 
  17. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies" (PDF) (Official ballot) (10th Anniversary ed.). American Film Institute. Retrieved March 19, 2015. 

External links