AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Field of Dreams
Director: Phil Alden Robinson (Dir)
Release Date:   5 May 1989
Duration (in mins):  106
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Cast: Kevin Costner  (Ray Kinsella)
  Amy Madigan  (Annie Kinsella)
  James Earl Jones  (Terence Mann)

Summary: Ray Kinsella recalls his late father, John, a one-time minor league baseball player and devoted fan of the sport. After Ray’s mother died, John Kinsella took care of his son, but Ray ultimately clashed with him and went to college in Berkeley, California, far away from their home in New York City. Ray joined the hippie movement, then married his college sweetheart, Annie, just before his father died. The young couple had a daughter, Karin, and when Ray turned thirty-six, Annie convinced him to buy a farm in Iowa. Ray claims he never did anything crazy until he heard “the voice.” One day, walking through the cornfields on his farm, Ray hears a voice whisper repeatedly, “If you build it, he will come.” Later, the voice wakes him up and Ray responds by asking what he should build. The next day, as the voice speaks to him, Ray hallucinates a baseball field and the late “Shoeless Joe” Jackson, an outfielder who was ousted from the Major Leagues after his team, the Chicago White Sox, were found guilty of conspiring to lose the 1919 World Series. Back in the house, Ray tells Annie the voice wants him to build a baseball field so Shoeless Joe can play again, and she responds that it is the craziest idea she ever heard. However, Ray fears becoming like his father, who aged too quickly and never followed his dreams. Annie offers to support him, even though he must plow down a large portion of their corn to build the field. Neighbors watch in disbelief as Ray begins plowing. His daughter, Karin, joins him as he recounts the story of Shoeless Joe, who earned his nickname when he removed an uncomfortable pair of spikes during the middle of a game and played barefoot. Recalling the 1919 World Series controversy, Ray insists there was no evidence that Shoeless Joe conspired to lose, given his exemplary performance in the games. Ray tells Annie that his father once saw Shoeless Joe playing in the minor leagues under a different name, and Annie notices Ray is smiling. She says it is the first time she has seen her husband look happy when talking about his father. The baseball field is completed, but Shoeless Joe does not appear for some time. One night, Annie tallies the bills and announces that the farm is losing money due to the lost acreage. She also reminds Ray that they spent all of their savings on the field, which they should now replant with corn. Karin interrupts, saying a man is standing outside. Ray finds a young Shoeless Joe standing on his baseball field and greets him in disbelief. He hits balls for the outfielder to catch, then pitches to him. After hitting a homerun, Shoeless Joe comments about how much he misses baseball. Annie and Karin come to greet their guest, but he cannot walk past the border of the baseball field. He mentions that seven other players would like to join him next time, and Ray says they are welcome. Before he disappears into the cornfield, Shoeless Joe asks if he is in heaven, and Ray responds, “No, it’s Iowa.” Later, Annie’s brother, Mark, informs Ray that he is going to lose his farm and offers to buy the property before the bank forecloses on it. Karin announces that “the game is on,” and Ray leaves the room with her. Mark follows, and sees them watching Shoeless Joe and his seven companions warming up on the field. However, Mark cannot see the players and mocks Ray as he leaves. When the voice speaks to Ray again, it says, “Ease his pain.” Confused by the instruction, Ray attends a Parent Teachers Association (PTA) meeting with Annie, where a concerned mother named Beulah discusses her desire to ban 1960s counterculture books written by Terence Mann. Annie defends Mann and convinces the majority of the crowd to side with her before Ray drags her out of the meeting, announcing that he has had an epiphany. He reminds Annie that Mann is his favorite author as well as hers, and believes the voice was telling him to ease Mann’s pain. The novelist, now a recluse, once gave an interview in which he described a recurring dream of playing baseball at Ebbets Field with Jackie Robinson. Thus, Ray thinks he must bring Mann out of hiding to attend a baseball game. Annie forbids him going on a trip because they cannot afford it, but when she remembers the dream she had the night before in which Ray attended a Boston Red Sox game with Mann, he reveals he had the same dream. Changing her mind, Annie offers to help him pack. In Boston, Massachusetts, Ray bribes a mechanic for Mann’s home address and goes to the author’s apartment. There, he informs Mann of his mission and persuades him to attend a Red Sox game at Fenway Park, even though the author denies having had a recurring dream about Ebbets Field. At the game, Ray sees the statistics of 1922 New York Giants player Archibald “Moonlight” Graham on the Jumbotron. Graham, who only played one game and never went to bat, was from Chisolm, Minnesota. Ray deduces that he must go to Chisolm, and offers to take Mann home early, apologizing that he was not needed after all. However, just after Ray drops him off, Mann blocks the car and reveals that he also saw the message about Graham. He joins Ray on the trip to Chisolm, where they learn that Graham, who became a doctor and devoted husband, died in 1972. That night, Ray takes a walk in town and realizes he has been transported back to 1972. He sees Graham walking down the street and follows him to his office, where he tries to convince the doctor to come to Iowa with him for another chance to play baseball. However, Graham refuses to leave his wife, even for a short trip. Ray calls home to Annie, who reports that Mark has taken over the loan on their house and will foreclose if they do not agree to sell to him. Rushing back to Iowa, Ray is joined by Mann and a young hitchhiker, who turns out to be a younger version of Graham who calls himself “Archie” and aspires to play baseball. When Archie falls asleep, Ray tells Mann that he played baseball as a child but quit at age fourteen when he read Mann’s novel, The Boat Rocker, and decided to rebel against his father’s wishes, including the desire for him to play baseball. Ray laments that he left home at seventeen after telling his father he could never respect a man who idolized a criminal like Shoeless Joe. For years he did not speak to his father, too ashamed to apologize, and the next time he saw him was at his funeral. That night, they arrive at the farm and discover Shoeless Joe on the field with two full teams. Mann and the Kinsellas watch as Archie joins the seasoned players for a game. The next day, Mark arrives to find Ray and the Kinsellas on the sidelines, watching another game. Karin announces that her father will not have to sell the farm because people will pay to watch the game. Believing the girl is delusional, Mark shakes her, causing her to fall from the bleachers and lose consciousness. Annie goes to call for help, but Ray stops her, certain that Archie can aid their daughter. Archie approaches, and at the edge of the field, transforms into the older Dr. Graham, who discovers Karin is choking and slaps her back to dislodge a hot dog. Having witnessed the rescue, Mark changes his mind and agrees that Ray should keep the farm. When the baseball players retire for the day, Shoeless Joe invites Mann to join them. Ray wants to come too, but Mann reminds him he has a family and claims this is an opportunity for him to write a new story. Mann finally admits he did dream about playing at Ebbets Field, and Shoeless Joe reminds Ray, “If you build it, he will come,” before leaving the field. One last player remains, and Ray realizes it is his father. Upon Annie’s encouragement, he introduces John to his wife and daughter, but does not reveal that he is his son. John compliments the beauty of the field and says it is a “dream come true.” The men discuss whether or not it is heaven or simply Iowa, and Ray finally calls him “Dad” when he asks him to play catch.  

Distribution Company: Universal Pictures
Production Company: Gordon Company
Director: Phil Alden Robinson (Dir)
  Brian Frankish (Unit prod mgr)
  William M. Elvin (1st asst dir)
  Alan Edmisten (2d asst dir)
  Grant Gilmore (2d 2d asst dir)
  Lou Puopolo (Boston 2d unit dir)
Producer: Lawrence Gordon (Prod)
  Charles Gordon (Prod)
  Brian Frankish (Exec prod)
  Lloyd Levin (Assoc prod)
  Paul Hauser (Lamp op)
Writer: Phil Alden Robinson (Written for the screen by)

Subject Major: Baseball
  Fathers and sons
Subject Minor: Baseball players
  Berkeley (CA)
  Boston (MA)
  Boston Red Sox (Baseball team)
  Chicago White Sox (Baseball team)
  Fathers and daughters
  Fixed baseball games
  Political activists
  Voyages and travel

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
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