Field of Dreams

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Field of Dreams
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 $84,431,625[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, namely Best Original Score, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture.


Ray Kinsella is a novice Iowa farmer who lives with his wife Annie and his daughter Karin. In opening narration, Ray explains how he had a troubled relationship with his father, John Kinsella, who was a devoted baseball fan. While walking through his cornfield one evening, Ray hears a voice that whispers, "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 under his corn to build the field. But as months pass by and nothing happens in the field, Ray's family faces financial ruin. However, one night, Karin eventually spots a uniformed man in the field. Ray discovers that he 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 play on the field. He later returns from the cornfield with the seven other players banned in the 1919 Black Sox scandal, of which Ray had earlier told Karin about while constructing the field.

Ray's brother-in-law, Mark, can't see the baseball players, and warns Ray that he'll go bankrupt unless he replants his crops. While in the field, Ray hears the voice again, this time urging him to "ease his pain." After attending a PTA meeting involving a resolution to ban books by a radical author named Terence Mann, Ray decides the voice is referring to him. After finding a magazine interview about Mann's childhood dream of playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers, Ray convinces his wife that he should seek out the author after they both dream about Ray and Mann attending a baseball game together at Fenway Park. Ray heads to Boston and persuades a reluctant, embittered Terence to attend a game at Fenway, where Ray hears the voice urging him to "go the distance." 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, Terence eventually admits to sharing the vision.

Ray and Mann travel to Chisholm, Minnesota, where they learn that Graham became a doctor and died sixteen years earlier. During a late night walk, Ray finds himself in 1972 and encounters the then-living Graham, who states that he moved on from his baseball career and says that a greater disappointment would have been no medical career. He declines Ray's invitation to fulfill his dream. However, while driving back to Iowa, Ray picks up a young hitchhiker who introduces himself as Graham. While Archie sleeps, Ray reveals to Terence the details of his falling out with his father, after an argument in which Ray denounced Shoeless Joe as a criminal. At the farm, enough players have arrived to field two teams, and Archie finally gets to 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 won't need to sell because people will pay to watch the ball games. Terence agrees that "people will come" to relive their childhood innocence, so Ray (after much thought) refuses to sell. Frustrated, Mark scuffles with Ray, accidentally knocking Karin off the top of the bleachers. Archie runs to help and, stepping off the field, becomes the old "Doc" Graham. After he saves Karin from choking on a bite of the hot dog, Ray realizes that Graham sacrificed his young self. After reassuring Ray that his true calling was medicine, Graham is commended by the players and leaves. Suddenly able to see the players, Mark urges Ray not to sell the farm.

After the game, Shoeless Joe invites Terence to enter the cornfield. Terence accepts the offer and disappears into the cornfield, but Ray is angry at not being invited. Joe rebukes Ray, then says if he is really thinking of a reward for sacrificing so much that he better stay on the field, saying "If you build it, he will come", and glances toward home plate. The catcher removes his mask and Ray recognizes his father as a young man. Shocked, Ray surmises that "Ease his pain" referred to Joe, but Joe counters that the voice referred to Ray himself.

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






Phil Alden Robinson read Shoeless Joe in 1981, and liked the book so much he brought it to producers Lawrence Gordon and Charles Gordon. Lawrence suggested an adaptation to 20th Century Fox, where he was working and even became the president, but the studio frequently turned it down as they felt it was too esoteric and noncommercial. Meanwhile Robinson wrote his script, frequently getting in touch with the book's author W. P. Kinsella for advice on the adaptation. Once Gordon left Fox in 1986, he pitched the Shoeless Joe adaptation in other studios, with Universal Studios accepting the project in 1987. USC coach Rod Dedeaux was hired as a baseball advisor after reading the novel, and brought along World Series champion and USC alumnus Don Buford to coach the actors.[5]

While the film was shot under the novel's title, executives eventually decided to rename it Field of Dreams. Robinson was against it, saying that "I loved the title 'Shoeless Joe'; It's a title for a movie about dreams deferred," but when he called Kinsella to tell the news, the author told that his original title was The Dream Field, with Shoeless Joe being imposed by the publisher.[6]


At first Kevin Costner was taken out of consideration, as Robinson and the producers did not think he would want to follow Bull Durham with another baseball movie. But Costner ended up reading the script, and got interested in the project, saying he felt was "this generation's It's a Wonderful Life". Costner added to Robinson that he would help him in production, given Robinson's directing debut In the Mood was a commercial failure. Amy Madigan joined as Costner's wife as she was a fan of the original work. Robinson decided to rewrite the reclusive writer from J.D. Salinger, who was used in Shoeless Joe and threatened to file a lawsuit against the production if his name was used, to fictional Terence Mann, who Robinson wrote with James Earl Jones in mind as he thought it would be fun to see Ray Kinsella try to kidnap such a big man. While Robinson had originally envisioned Shoeless Joe Jackson played by an actor in his 40s, older than Costner so he could act as a father surrogate, he decided Ray Liotta was better despite not fitting that category for having the "sense of danger" and ambiguity he wanted for the character. Burt Lancaster had originally turned down the script, but changed his mind after a friend of his who was 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 availability of Costner, who had to leave in August to film Revenge. Production rolled for six-day weeks with some weather and time constraints. As the cornfield planted by the filmmakers was taking too long to grow, interior scenes took priority in the schedule while artificial irrigation was used to grow the corn to Costner's height. The primary shot location was Dubuque County, Iowa, in which a farm near Dyersville was used for the Kinsella home, and an empty warehouse in Dubuque was used to build various interior sets. Galena, Illinois, doubled for Moonlight Graham's Chisholm, Minnesota,[5] and a few location shots were done for a week in Boston, notably Fenway Park.[7]

Robinson, despite being given sufficient budget and both the cast and crew he wanted, constantly felt tense and depressed, feeling that as a director he had too much pressure to create an outstanding film and he was not doing the justice to the original novel with the film adaptation, but 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 the final scene with headlights for miles at the horizon, whereupon they replied that it could be done. Dyersville was blacked out as part of a community event that also involved commuters driving to the field. The drivers in the final shot were instructed to switch between their high beams and low beams to allow for the illusion of movement. The film crew on the farm was hidden to make sure the aerial shot did not reveal them.[5]


While the Kinsella farm was shot at the property of Don Lansing, the baseball field also used parts of the neighbor farm, whose owner, Al Amsekamp, was equally cooperative with the filmmakers. As the schedule was too short to have actual grass on the field, an expert on sod laying, responsible for the Dodger Stadium and Rose Bowl, was hired to build it. The grass was also painted given it would not have time to become green naturally.[5]

While Amsekamp grew corn on his part of the field, Lansing maintained his as a tourist destination.[5] He did not charge for admission or parking, and derived revenue solely from the souvenir shop. Approximately 65,000 people visited annually.[8] In July 2010, the farm containing the "Field" was listed as for sale.[9] On October 31, 2011, the site was sold to a company called Go The Distance Baseball for an undisclosed fee, believed to be in the region of $5.4 million.[10]

Go The Distance Baseball LLC CEO Denise Stillman purchased the baseball diamond and surrounding 193-acre (78 ha) parcel of land to construct a 24-baseball-field sports training complex, called All-Star Ballpark Heaven, immediately next to the original movie site.[citation needed] A group of local farmers and residents, who are neighbors to the Field of Dreams land, formed a citizen's organization called the Residential and Agricultural Advisory Committee LLC (RAAC), and on September 4, 2012, sued the City of Dyersville, claiming city officials had taken their rights away improperly by creating a 200-foot (61 m) buffer zone in the rezoning and annexation of the entire property. This rezoning took place to accommodate the planned development, and the buffer zone's inclusion removed the farmer’s law-given right to oppose the project in any way. On October 12, 2012, in response to this legal action, Chicago-based developers Mike and Denise Stillman, owners of Go The Distance Baseball LLC, sued the RAAC for defamation, interference with their ability to purchase the land, and their 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 project, claiming the development would destroy the one-of-a-kind allure of the movie site, which attracts 65,000 visitors a year, as well as have a direct adverse affect on local farmers' ability to stay in business.[citation needed]

On December 19, 2013, the lawsuits between the RAAC and Go The Distance Baseball, LLC were mutually dropped. The RAAC’s case against the City of Dyersville over the inappropriate rezoning and annexation of the Field of Dreams land entered Iowa District Court on January 21, 2014, with discovery ordered by the judge. After all appropriate documentation was handed over by Dyersville City officials, a February 16, 2015 court trial date was set to continue litigation.[citation needed]

In April 2014, a series of articles and a multi-part documentary appeared on the Des Moines Register '​s website, acknowledging the history of the Field of Dreams Movie Site, as well as the controversy that has surrounded the planned All-Star Ballpark Heaven development’s inclusion in the community. The series reached national media attention due in part to the 25th anniversary of the film, April 21, 2014.[citation needed]

As of August 2014, no construction of the All-Star Ballpark Heaven sports complex has begun on the Field of Dreams land since Go The Distance Baseball, LLC CEO Denise Stillman officially purchased the property on December 28, 2012.[citation needed]


James Horner was unsure if he could work on Field of Dreams due to schedule restrictions, but felt so moved after watching a rough cut that he accepted to score the film. Robinson created a temp track, which Universal executives disliked and felt positive when Horner was announced as a composer, expecting a big orchestra score similar to his recent work in An American Tail. Horner in turn liked the temporary score, finding it "quiet and kind of ghostly" and decided to follow it creating an atmospheric soundtrack which would "focus on the emotions".[5] In addition to Horner's score, portions of several pop songs are heard in the film's music track. They are listed in the following order in the closing credits:

Historical connections[edit]

The character played by Burt Lancaster and Frank Whaley, Archibald "Moonlight" Graham, is based on the baseball player of the same name. The character is largely true to life, excepting a few factual liberties taken for artistic reasons. The real Graham's lone major league game occurred in June 1905,[11] rather than the final day of the 1922 season. The DVD special points out that the facts about Doc Graham, mentioned by various citizens interviewed by the Terence Mann character, were taken from articles written about the real man.

Release and reception[edit]

Universal scheduled Field of Dreams to open May 21, 1989, one week before Memorial Day in the U.S. 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]

The film was received positively by critics. 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, AFI revealed its "Ten top Ten"—the best ten films in ten "classic" American film genres—after polling over 1,500 people from the creative community. Field of Dreams was acknowledged as the sixth best film in the fantasy genre.[13][14]

American Film Institute Lists

See also[edit]


  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 i "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[edit]