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
Starring Kevin Costner
Amy Madigan
James Earl Jones
Ray Liotta
Burt Lancaster
Music by James Horner
Cinematography John Lindley
Editing by Ian Crafford
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release dates
  • April 21, 1989 (1989-04-21)
Running time 107 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $15 million[1][2]
Box office $84,431,625[3]

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. The film stars Kevin Costner, Amy Madigan, James Earl Jones, Ray Liotta, and Burt Lancaster in his final film. The film was nominated for three Academy Awards including Best Original Score, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Picture.


While walking in his cornfield, novice farmer Ray Kinsella hears a voice that whispers, "If you build it, he will come", and sees a baseball diamond. His wife, Annie, is skeptical, but she allows him to plow under his corn to build the field.

Nothing happens, and Ray soon faces financial ruin. Ray and Annie discuss replanting the corn, but their daughter, Karin, sees a man on the ballfield. Ray discovers that he is Shoeless Joe Jackson, a dead 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.

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." After attending a PTA meeting involving a resolution to ban books by author and activist-turned recluse Terence Mann, Ray decides the voice is referring to Mann. Ray finds a magazine interview about Mann's childhood dream of playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers and his heartbreak when the team moved to Los Angeles, and convinces Annie that he should seek out the author after they both dream about Ray and Terence attending a baseball game.

Mann denies making the statement in the magazine, but Ray persuades him to attend a baseball game at Fenway Park. Ray hears the voice again, which urges 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. Mann eventually admits to sharing the vision, and they travel to Chisholm, Minnesota where they learn that Graham became a doctor, but died 16 years earlier.

During a late night walk, Ray realizes that he is in 1972, the year of Graham's death; he finds Graham who confesses to him that although he regrets never getting to bat, he would have regretted not being a doctor even more. He declines Ray's invitation to fulfill his dream.

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

While driving back to Iowa, Ray picks up a young hitchhiker who introduces himself as Archie Graham. While Archie sleeps, Ray reveals that at age 14 he refused to play catch with his father after reading one of Terence's books. He also says that at age 17, after an argument with his father about the criminality of the elder's hero "Shoeless" Joe Jackson, Ray left home and never saw his father again. At the farm, enough players have arrived to field two teams, and Archie finally gets to bat.

The next morning Mark returns to the farm, walking right across the diamond oblivious to the ongoing batting practice, marches up to Ray, and implores him to 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, and Ray 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 cannot return to the field as a young man. After reassuring Ray that his true calling was medicine, the players shake his hand and he 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's desire for a reward, then reminds him why he sacrificed so much, 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 his father, 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 "Dad" to play catch. As they begin to play, 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.[4]

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.[5]


At first Kevin Costner was taken off 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 sue 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.[4]


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. For instance, given the corn field planted by the filmmakers was taken too long to grow, interior scenes took a priority as an artificial irrigation was used to make sure the corn seeds grew to Costner's height. The primary location was shot in Dubuque County, Iowa, where 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 dubbed for Moonlight Graham's Chisholm, Minnesota,[4] and a few location shots were done for a week in Boston, notably Fenway Park.[6]

Robinson did not feel relieved by having an adequate budget and the cast and crew he wanted with the only condition being to shoot the script as he had written, feeling that as a director he had much pressure to create an outstanding film. Robinson constantly felt tense and depressed, considering that he was not making a work as good as the book, but Lawrence Gordon convinced him that the end product would be effective.[4]

During a lunch with the Iowa Chamber of Commerce, Robinson told about his idea of the final scene with headlights for miles at the horizon. They replied that it could be made. 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.[4]

The Field[edit]

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.[4]

While Amsekamp built corn on his part of the field, Lansing maintained his as a tourist destination.[4] He did not charge for admission or parking, and derived revenue solely from the souvenir shop. Approximately 65,000 people visited annually.[7] In July 2010, the farm containing the "Field" was listed as for sale.[8] 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.[9]

Go The Distance Baseball LLC owners purchased the baseball diamond, and surrounding 193-acre parcel of land, to construct a 24 baseball field sports training complex, called All-Star Ballpark Heaven, immediately next to the original movie site. 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 ft.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 mil. State tax rebate. Litigation is pending.

On October 17, 2012, a Facebook page called 'Save the Field of Dreams' was created by Los Angeles-based film industry 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.


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".[4] 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,[10] 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 May 21, 1989, one week before Memorial Day. The opening was in a few theaters while gradually expanding the number of screens so it would have its spot as the summer blockbusters made their debuts. It wound up playing until December.[4]

The film was received positively by critics. Rotten Tomatoes rated the movie at 88% "Certified Fresh".[11] Roger Ebert gave the film 4 stars out of 4.[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


  1. ^ Review: "Touchback" is an inspiring drama that will make you smile. WOOD-TV. Retrieved August 26, 2013.
  2. ^ Overview, Field of Dreams. Retrieved August 26, 2013.
  3. ^ Box Office Information for Field of Dreams. Box Office Mojo. Retrieved August 26, 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i "The 'Field of Dreams' Scrapbook", Field of Dreams DVD
  5. ^ Diamonds Are Forever : Director Fields the Lost Hopes of Adolescence, The Los Angeles Times
  6. ^ "Production Notes", Field of Dreams DVD
  7. ^ "'Field of Dreams' screens to mark 20th anniversary". Los Angeles Times. December 15, 2009. 
  8. ^ Grossfeld, Stan (2010-07-20). "Living in a dream world?". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2010-07-20. 
  9. ^ Greg Wilson (2011-10-31). ""Field of Dreams" Iowa Farm Sold for Millions". NBC Chicago. Retrieved 2012-08-01. 
  10. ^ "Moonlight Graham". Retrieved 2010-06-05. 
  11. ^ Field of Dreams at Rotten Tomatoes
  12. ^ "Roger Ebert - Field of Dreams April 21, 1989". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved May 18, 2011. 
  13. ^ American Film Institute (2008-06-17). "AFI Crowns Top 10 Films in 10 Classic Genres". Retrieved 2008-06-18. 
  14. ^ "Top 10 Fantasy". American Film Institute. Retrieved 2008-06-18. 
  15. ^ AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies Nominees
  16. ^ AFI's 100 Years of Film Scores Nominees
  17. ^ AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) Ballot

External links[edit]