A phenomenal hit when it was released in 1989, Field of Dreams has become a modern classic and a uniquely American slice of cinema. It functions effectively as a moving drama about the power of dreams, a fantasy ode to our national pastime, and a brilliant adaptation of W.P. Kinsella’s exquisite baseball novel Shoeless Joe. Kinsella himself found the film a delightful surprise, differing greatly from his novel but benefiting from its own creative variations. It is the film that cemented Kevin Costner’s status as an all-American screen star, but the story resonates far beyond Costner’s handsome appeal.
As just about everyone knows by now, Costner stars as Iowa farmer Ray Kinsella, who hears the mysterious words “If you build it, he will come” and is compelled to build a baseball diamond in the middle of his cornfield. His wife (Amy Madigan) supports the wild idea, but a reclusive novelist (modeled after J.D. Salinger and played by James Earl Jones) is not so easily persuaded. The idealistic farmer is either a visionary or a deluded fool, but his persistence is rewarded when spirits from baseball’s past begin appearing on the ball field. Past and present intermingle in the person of “Moonlight Graham” (superbly played by Burt Lancaster), an unknown player who sacrificed his dreams of baseball glory for a dignified life as a small-town physician … but what all of this means is unclear until the film’s memorably heartfelt conclusion. A meditation on family, memory, and faith, the film balances humor and magic to strike just the right chord of thoughtful emotion, affecting audiences so deeply that the
baseball field created for the production has now become a mecca of sorts for dreamers around the world.
Voice: If you build it, he will come.
James Earl Jones (Terence): Ray, people will come Ray. They’ll come to Iowa for reasons they can’t even fathom. They’ll turn up your driveway not knowing for sure why they’re doing it. They’ll arrive at your door as innocent
as children, longing for the past.This field, this game, it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh, people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.
Kevin Costner (Ray): Fifty years ago, for five minutes you came within, you came this close! It would KILL some men to get so close to their dream and not touch it! God, they’d consider it a tragedy!
Ray Liotta (“Shoeless” Joe): Ty Cobb wanted to play. None of could stand the son-of-a-bitch when we were alive, so we told him to stick it!
Kevin Costner (Ray): I’m 36 years old, I love my family, I love baseball and I’m about to become a farmer. But until I heard the voice, I’d never done a crazy thing in my whole life.