I think it means that if I build a baseball field out there that Shoeless Joe Jackson will get to come back and play ball again. -Ray Kinsella
Review by Roger Ebert April 21, 1989
:: The farmer is standing in the middle of a cornfield when he hears the voice for the first time: If you build it, he will come. He looks around and doesn't see anybody. The voice speaks again, soft and confidential: If you build it, he will come. Sometimes you can get too much sun, out there in a hot Iowa cornfield in the middle of the season. But this isn't a case of sunstroke.
Up until the farmer starts hearing voices, Field of Dreams is a completely sensible film about a young couple who want to run a family farm in Iowa. Ray and Annie Kinsella (Kevin Costner and Amy Madigan) have tested the fast track and had enough of it, and they enjoy sitting on the porch and listening to the grass grow. When the voice speaks for the first time, the farmer is baffled, and so was I: could this be one of those religious pictures where a voice tells the humble farmer where to build the cathedral?
It's a religious picture, all right, but the religion is baseball. And when he doesn't understand the spoken message, Ray is granted a vision of a baseball diamond, right there in his cornfield.
If he builds it, the voice seems to promise, Joe Jackson will come and play on it - Shoeless Joe, who was a member of the infamous 1919 Black Sox team but protested until the day he died that he played the best he could.
As Field of Dreams developed this fantasy, I found myself being willingly drawn into it. Movies are often so timid these days, so afraid to take flights of the imagination, that there is something grand and brave about a movie where a voice tells a farmer to build a baseball diamond so that Shoeless Joe Jackson can materialize out of the cornfield and hit a few fly balls.