Field of Dreams

RATED-(PG)-107- MIN-1989


                                                                                  “ If you build it, he will come.”

Yes, its goofy, sentimental, and at times (Field of Dreams) doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but Frank Capra would be proud of this  Americana fable that I never get tired of viewing each time I visit it again.The opening montage, with its narration by the main character on his background, accompanied with another lovely score by the late (James Horner) is one of my favorite introductions and setups for a film ever. It is wonderful, poetic, and so is this film about  past regrets, redemption, and forgiveness.

Ray Kinsella was raised by his dockworker dad, after his mom died when he was very young. His dad had always dreamed of playing baseball in the big leagues, but never did. Ray and him knocked heads, but they both loved baseball; so that’s how they bonded. At nighttime, before bed, his dad would tell Ray stories about his hero: the great Shoeless Joe Jackson, who along with eight other Chicago White Sox teammate’s, were banned from baseball for life, when they threw the 1919 World Series for gamblers, even though he didn’t take money for his supposed part. When he was a teenager, Ray said something horrible to his dad about his hero Joe, and he left home for good.

Kevin Costner and Amy Madigan are perfect in their roles as husband and wife:( Ray and Annie Kinsella), who have settled down and own a farm in Iowa with their little daughter Karen ( Abby Hoffman).They are good people, trying to make an honest living, even though Ray is a bit of a reluctant farmer.

One day, Ray is out in the cornfield, and he swears he hears a voice ,urging him to do something very strange: plow out part of his crop, and build a baseball field. Who is telling him to do this and why is a mystery, and Ray thinks he may be going crazy. Could the sun, and the hard work he does somewhat halfhearted, be getting to him?

He tells his wife of what has happened, and she thinks he is mistaken; maybe it was an acid flashback from the college.It definitely wasn't a voice in the field, even though Ray in his heart believes that he should build the field.Because she knows there is a void in his heart and she loves him, Annie tells Ray that she thinks he should build the field. Of course everyone thinks he is crazy for plowing the corn,and building the field; especially Annie's brother Mark (Timothy Busfield) who is a banker,and who warns the two, that if they lose that much corn,they might lose the farm.There is the Capra set-up.

When fall turns into winter and the field is empty,Ray becomes despondent as they are now losing major money without the extra crop the field occupies. Perhaps he was crazy.

Then... a figure appears one day at dusk in center field. It is Shoeless Joe (Ray Liotta), and he has come back to play ball.

Soon, there are so many players from the past who have come to the field, that Ray and his family are watching games every night; ghosts from the past simply playing the game they loved. Most people can’t see them, which convince family, friends, and onlookers that Ray has slipped off the deep end and taken his family with him.

All seems to be going ok, until  the voice persists with another message that makes no semse: (Ease his pain). Ray is pissed, as he done what was asked, and is now given another message.“Ease whose pain?” he asks, even though he has a good idea who the voice the voice is talking about. Ray and Annie have the same dream about Ray being at Fenway Park with Terrance Mann (James Earl Jones), a famous activist and writer from the sixties, whom they both loved, now a bit of a shut in living in Boston, who Ray believes is the person whose pain he must ease.Annie gives Ray her blessing for Ray to go find him, even though now the farm is in major trouble with Mark and his bankers looming over them.

The trip to Fenway Park leads to more places to go, to find other people who apparently have a purpose related to the field that Ray has built in Iowa. These moments are really where Field of Dreams shines, as it shows the characters dealing with what we all do as we go through our lives; where we come from, how it shaped our lives, and where we can go from there when the path splits and we must make a decision.

What makes this film so special, is the total commitment by the filmmakers and actors in making us believe this fable is real. It is fantasy for sure, but if you just let go and let the movie take you on it’s rather strange road trip of magic, you will be rewarded with, I think a real American treasure of a film. A game of simple catch has never been so important, and I dare you not to tear up.

(Note: This film came out the year my dad passed, and as fate would have it, a couple of years later, while reading the travel section at work, I saw an article on how the baseball diamond in Dyersville, Iowa had become a place where people were meeting up to play a game of catch or hit a ball out into the corn, as the owner had decided to keep the field (like the film). This particular article had a story about a father and son who were separated early on in life, and after seeing the movie, got the idea of reuniting at the Field of Dreams; so they did. My friend and I took a road trip several months later, and on a beautiful Saturday morning we drove to Iowa, and to the Field of Dreams. What did we see when we drove up? We saw people coming out the cornfield, playing catch, taking a shot at hitting one out, and just folks taking in this simple little field which had inspired so much in many peoples hearts from the movie.

It was simple, but wonderful, and that my friends is movie magic.

watch the trailer:

You should see this movie.