Patriotic Movie Month: "Field of Dreams"

Photo Credit: Universal Pictures

Rating: PG
Length: 107 minutes
Release Date: April 21, 1989
Directed by: Phil Alden Robinson
Genre: Drama / Family / Fantasy

"Field of Dreams" is one of those feel-good family movies that leaves viewers positive and inspired. Even decades after its 1989 release, it continues to inspire new viewers and strike nostalgia in its original audiences with themes of hope and following one's dreams. The story follows a corn farmer, played expertly by Kevin Costner, as he hears voices telling him to build a baseball field. When he does, the ghosts of the Chicago White Sox players pay a visit. Heartwarming and fun, this is one family film that all ages can enjoy.

Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) is an aspiring corn farmer living in Iowa along with his young daughter Karin (Gaby Hoffmann) and his wife Annie (Amy Madigan). Ray's father John (Dwier Brown) is no longer alive, but Ray thinks about him often, noting that he was a big White Sox fan who was especially fond of the legendary player Shoeless Joe Jackson (Ray Liotta). As he walks through his growing cornfield, Ray hears a mysterious voice and has a vision of a baseball field built in his cornfield. The gentle voice says "Build it, and he will come," and the novice farmer is both terrified and bewildered.

After some persuading, Annie agrees that Ray should follow the command, and he sets out to level a piece of the field and build a baseball diamond, much to his brother-in-law's dismay. Some time passes, and Ray is despondent when nothing happens. However, one night he sees a group of baseball players from the 1919 White Sox team practicing in his field. He enjoys meeting the deceased players, but his brother-in-law insists that he must replant his corn in the field if he wants to keep his farm. After a while, Ray hears the voice yet again as he is told to meet the author Terence Mann (James Earl Jones). Hoping that the baseball writer could provide some insight, he sets out to meet him at a ballgame.

While watching a game with Terrence, Ray receives yet another message to find a player named Archibald "Moonlight" Graham, but when the pair arrive at his home town, they discover he is deceased. Once again, however, the impossible is made possible, and Ray finds himself in 1972, the year Moonlight died, and tries to convince him to return to the field with him. Ray is disappointed, and he leaves the past to drive back home to his field. Upon arriving, he discovers that even more players have gathered there. It is now up to Ray to discover what he is meant to do with the players without losing his farm.

"Field of Dream" begins with an unsure, mysterious atmosphere, and the remainder of the film is comprised of one heart-warming moment after the other. The last few scenes are sure to bring tears to viewers' eyes, emphasizing the importance of family and chasing dreams. As a whole, this film is bursting with sentimentality — and it works. When a film drifts into sentimental territory, it is easy for it to become corny and naive. However, "Field of Dreams" rises above this, delivering every emotional twist with surprising power. Although the film does feature an element of magic, it's so subtle that viewers can enjoy the story without feeling detached due to its unbelievable elements.

The plot itself is well-paced, lingering at all the right moments. Even audiences who do not like baseball, sappy stories or magical films are sure to be glued to their seats for the duration of the film. One of the elements that makes this film so engaging is its cast of talented actors lead by Kevin Costner. The likable actor gives one of his best performances as a simple family man caught up in something bigger than himself. Amy Madigan, who plays his wife Annie, delivers her performance with well-placed emotion, and James Earl Jones is perfect as Terence. Ray Liotta and Frank Whaley are flawless as Shoeless Joe Jackson and Archie Graham, respectively, transporting audiences to an earlier time in America's history. Each actor brings something special to the screen, and this incredible blend of acting talent is not lost on viewers.

Whether it's the golden days of America's Pastime or the moments of bonding between Ray and his family, something in this sentimental film is sure to strike a chord with viewers of every background. It may not be an award-winning masterpiece, but "Field of Dreams" is sure to stick with audiences long after the closing credits begin to roll.