A to Z Challenge – Field of Dreams

Field of Dreams - Poster.jpgField of Dreams

1989

Directed by Phil Alden Robinson

Quick Synopsis… Kevin Costner stars as an Iowa farmer who hears a mysterious voice telling him to turn his cornfield into a baseball diamond. He does, but the voice’s directions don’t stop — even after the spirits of deceased ballplayers turn up to play. James Earl Jones and Burt Lancaster co-star as a reclusive writer and a young slugger turned doctor, respectively, with Ray Liotta turning in a pivotal performance as “Shoeless” Joe Jackson.

  • To my knowledge (which I would say is usually accurate… not to toot my own horn or anything…), Kevin Costner has done three baseball movies.
  • There was Bull Durham. Then there was Field of Dreams. Then there was For Love of the Game.
  • Are there others I’m missing?
  • The beginning of Field of Dreams gives a quick rundown of Ray Kinsella’s (Kevin Costner) life.
  • The important things to know: his dad was a serious baseball guy and they rarely, if ever, got along; Ray went to Berkeley in the 60s and met his wife, Annie (Amy Madigan); not long after Ray’s dad died, their daughter, Karin was born and Ray bought a farm in Iowa.
  • One evening, he’s out in his cornfield and hears a voice whisper, “If you build it, he will come.”
  • This is obviously concerning for Ray.
  • He keeps hearing the voice whispering the same thing, until one day he looks out and has a vision of a baseball field. He also sees “Shoeless” Joe Jackson (Ray Liotta) standing in the outfield looking back at him.
  • Annie supports Ray, telling him that if it’s something he really feels is the right thing to do, he should do it.
  • So Ray starts plowing over a good chunk of his cornfield to build his baseball field.
  • While he works, he tells Karin about the Chicago “Black Sox” scandal and how “Shoeless” Joe Jackson couldn’t have possibly had anything to do with throwing the World Series.
  • When it’s finished, it’s a really nice field.
  • Time flies… seasons change… nothing happens with Ray’s baseball field.
  • The next spring when Ray and Annie are budgeting for the year, realizing that they might not even break even considering the loss of acreage for the field, Karin spots a strange man standing in the outfield.
  • Ray heads out and meets “Shoeless” Joe Jackson for the first time.
  • Joe gets some batting practice in and, at the end of the night, he asks if he can come back again.
  • He also asks if he can bring others. “There were eight of us…”
  • When Annie’s family comes by to help with figuring out the finances, Joe and the other players all show up to play some ball.
  • Unfortunately, Ray, Annie, and Karin are the only ones who can see them. The rest of Annie’s family think it’s part of some kind of unfunny joke.
  • After the players have disappeared back into the cornfield, Ray hears the voice whisper, “Ease his pain…”
  • That night, at a PTA meeting, a group of ultra-conservative parents are trying to get books banned from the school library, including a book by Terrence Mann.
  • Annie stands up and argues against this censorship and really gets into it with the woman spearheading the censorship movement and even gets the crowd on her side.
  • Meanwhile, Ray figures out that “Ease his pain…” means he needs to ease Terrence Mann’s pain.
  • Ray starts researching this writer from the 60s who really hasn’t had a public image since the early 70s. What does he have to do with baseball?
  • He discovers that in one of Mann’s early stories, he used a character named John Kinsella… Ray’s dad.
  • Mann’s last interview, given in 1973, reveals that his biggest dream was to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers.
  • This time, Annie has a hard time supporting because they’re behind on the mortgage. They can’t afford for Ray to take a road trip to Boston to take Terrence Mann to a Red Sox game.
  • But then Annie realizes that she and Ray had the same dream about him and Mann at the Red Sox game.
  • So off he goes to find Terrence Mann (James Earl Jones), who’s not thrilled about being found.
  • It takes some convincing, but Terry eventually agrees to accompany Ray to the game.
  • Actually, the whole encounter is pretty hysterical.
  • So they go to the game together and Ray hears the voice whisper, “Go the distance…” Then he sees stats for Archibald “Moonlight” Graham on the scoreboard.
  • Terry, apparently, didn’t see or hear any of it. So Ray apologizes because, apparently, Terrence didn’t have to be there at all.
  • Ray drops him off at home and, as he’s about to pull away, Terrence reveals that he did hear it.
  • They go on a road trip together, headed for Chisholm, Minnesota to find Moonlight Graham.
  • When they get there, they discover that Graham has been dead for 16 years.
  • He played baseball as a kid, but was only in one inning of one major league game and never got to swing a bat. Afterward, he returned to Minnesota and became a doctor.
  • Ray goes for a walk in town that night and finds himself transported to 1972, where he meets the elderly Doc Graham.
  • Graham says his inning was in the last game of the season and he knew that his lack of action would mean being sent back down to the minors. It was like getting so close to his dream and then watching it walk by like a stranger in a crowd.
  • Ray asks if he had one wish, what would it be. Graham says it would be to stare down a pitcher, connect with the ball, stretch a double into a triple, and slide face first into third base.
  • When Ray gets back to the hotel, Terrence tells him to call Annie.
  • She reveals that the bank sold their mortgage to Mark, her brother, and his partners. If they don’t sell the farm to them, they’re going to foreclose.
  • Good family, huh?
  • Terrence decides to go with Ray to Iowa. On the way back they pick up a hitchhiker.
  • The kid introduces himself as Archie Graham.
  • Ray and Terrence talk about his dad. Ray reveals that he grew so rebellious that he refused to have anything to do with baseball for a long time… wouldn’t even play catch with his dad.
  • When he was 17, Ray told his father that he could never respect a man whose hero was a criminal. John Kinsella died before Ray could ever take it back.
  • Ray, Terry, and Archie get back to the farm and a lot more than just the eight disgraced White Sox are using the field now.
  • Archie meets Joe and gets his wish. He winks at the pitcher and is nearly hit with the ball.
  • He doesn’t stretch a double into that triple, but he does hit a sacrifice out to right field, allowing the guy on third to tag up and score the run.
  • The next day, Mark comes by and interrupts the game by walking across the field, unaware that any of the players are there.
  • Mark is screaming that his partners want to foreclose and he’s offering a deal for them to stay in the house rent-free while the land itself goes to his firm.
  • Karin explains that they don’t have to sell the farm. People will come and they’ll pay to watch the games and it’ll remind them of what it was like when they were kids.
  • Terry agrees with Karin. And he gives an incredible monologue about why people will come.
  • The game even stops while the players listen to Terry’s speech.
  • Ray puts his foot down and says he’s not selling.
  • In the argument, Mark accidentally knocks Karin off the back of the bleachers.
  • Annie’s about to call 911, but Archie runs over. When he crosses the boundary of the field, he becomes the old man, Doc Graham.
  • He saves Karin from choking on the piece of hot dog that got stuck in her throat when she fell.
  • Ray thanks him, but then Graham thanks Ray. And Ray realizes he can’t go back.
  • It’s heartbreaking to watch the old man walk back across the field and disappear into the corn.
  • Suddenly, Mark can see all the players. Suddenly, he’s on board with Ray not selling.
  • When the players all head back to the corn, Joe invites Terry to join them out there.
  • Ray’s jealous. He wants to know what’s in it for him. He’s done all these things and hasn’t seen the benefit.
  • Terry walks into the corn, laughing all the way.
  • Before Joe leaves, he smiles at Ray. Then he repeats what the voice has been saying…
  • “If you build it, he will come…” Joe looks over at a Yankees catcher who hasn’t returned to the corn, yet.
  • It’s John Kinsella as a young man.
  • Ray finally gets a chance to play catch with his dad.
  • And I’m crying like a baby.

I’m not sure why I’m having such a hard time getting through this movie without getting so emotional. No… I know exactly why. This is the first time I’ve really sat down to watch this movie since my own father passed away a little more than 12 years ago. Field of Dreams was one of his favorite movies. And the fact that, at its heart, this movie is more about a son and his father than it is about baseball is a huge factor in why I’m still crying.

Monday’s movie will not be quite as emotional. In fact, it won’t be emotional at all. Unless you count laughter… I guess that is an emotion. Want to guess what movie I’m watching that’ll begin with G? It’s a comedy from the 90s, but not really well known and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t very well received. But when we were kids, my cousin and I loved it. We still quote it to each other when we get together. The only clue I’ll give is that it has a huge cast with a number of well-known players. But only a couple of them would be considered A-listers. Let me know your guesses in the comments.

AtoZ2019F

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7 thoughts on “A to Z Challenge – Field of Dreams

  1. Pingback: A to Z Challenge – Reflection | The Confusing Middle

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