When I attended the Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa, we were given one rule: "Never write about Christmas, the circus or baseball." The reasoning was that these three topics were just too ingrained in the American psyche, they were too iconic, and that they had been used too often. Well, I'm glad that Ray Kinsella (author of the book "Field of Dreams") and screenwriter Phil Alden Robinson didn't attend the Iowa Writers' Workshop.
FIELD OF DREAMS is a marvelous examination of America's infatuation with baseball and a moving exploration of family loyalties. Ray (as sensitively played by Kevin Costner) has a loving wife (Amy Madigan, making it look so easy) and a doting daughter, but something is missing. A voice tells him that he must build a baseball field in his corn crop (in Iowa!). When he does, the apparition of Shoeless Joe Jackson (Ray Liotta) shows up to play. What follows is a series of baseball adventures on and off Ray's baseball diamond, as well as in and out of the present day. Eventually, it becomes apparent that what was missing in Ray's life can only be addressed through baseball, and through a cultural icon from his past, played by the ubiquitous James Earl Jones.
When everything is resolved, there's a bit of throwaway dialogue that, in reality, is very moving. "It was you," Ray tells Shoeless Joe Jackson in reference to the voice he'd heard early in the film. "No, it was YOU," Jackson replies, indicating that
Ray's conscience prompted the entire adventure. Don't let anyone tell you that FIELD OF DREAMS is just a baseball movie. That would be like someone telling you that baseball is just a game.