Movie Reviews

Field of Dreams Ending Explained: The Costner Movie's Real Meaning

Summary

  • Field of Dreams focuses on lost dreams, regrets, and sentimentality with family and passions, earning it Oscar nominations and preservation in the National Film Registry.
  • The movie’s ending revolves around reconciling past regrets, generational issues, and moving forward with optimism and hope for the future.
  • Kevin Costner’s portrayal in Field of Dreams separates it from his other sports movies, showcasing a sentimental look at societal issues and the importance of making dreams come true.



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As one of the most inspirational movies of all time, the Field of Dreams meaning has many different interpretations, but Kevin Costner’s film boils down to a few key themes. The 1989 movie follows Ray Kinsella (Costner and his family as he builds a baseball diamond on his Iowa cornfield after hearing voices. The field then draws the ghosts of legendary baseball players who missed out on their dreams, allowing Ray to look further into his regrets. A lauded baseball movie, Field of Dreams is about lost dreams, regrets, and sentimentality about the past regarding family and one’s passions.


Field of Dreams holds a place with movies like It’s a Wonderful Life that boasts extremely inspirational messages. At the movie’s end, one feels better about humanity, moving forward with doubts due to its powerful reconciliations. Field of Dreams earned three Oscar nominations, including one for Best Picture. The Library of Congress selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry. There’s even a Field of Dreams ballpark at the original filming location that is both a tourist attraction and the site of one MLB game every season. Field of Dreams is so much more than just a sports movie.

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What Happens In Field Of Dreams’ Ending

If He Builds It, He Will Come

Kevin Costner as Ray Kinsella standing in a field in Field of Dreams


Field of Dreams Main Cast

Actor

Character

Kevin Costner

Ray Kinsella

Amy Madigan

Annie Kinsella

Gaby Hoffmann

Karin Kinsella

James Earl Jones

Terence Mann

Ray Liotta

Shoeless Joe Jackson

Timothy Busfield

Mark

Dwier Brown

John Kinsella


The Field of Dreams ending explained how everyone who came to Ray’s baseball diamond afterlife in Iowa fulfilled their lost dreams. Terence Mann (James Earl Jones) disappears into the cornfield with Shoeless Joe Jackson (Ray Liotta) and the other Field of Dreams players, suggesting Mann has also resolved his past regrets. The last player to leave the field is the catcher, whom Ray recognizes as his father as a young, happy man. Ray then realizes the field whispering “ease his pain” referred to his guilt over his torn relationship with his father.

Field of Dreams
ends by panning from the father and son playing catch to a highway full of traffic.

John Kinsella (Dwier Brown) is introduced to Ray’s wife and daughter before Ray finally asks him to play catch. Field of Dreams ends by panning from the father and son playing catch to a highway full of traffic where cars have lined up to realize their dreams at the Iowa cornfield baseball diamond.

Field Of Dreams’ Ending Resolves Generational Issues

The Theme Is Recognizing The Past & Moving Into The Future

Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) talking to Shoeless Joe Jackson (Ray Liotta) on the field in Field of Dreams


One of the best Field of Dreams quotes comes from Terence Mann, who says, “This is the future. You don’t belong here.” At the crux, Field of Dreams tries to resolve how one generation is passed over by the next and understand why they become so angry — they don’t matter, can’t progress, and become relics of the past. Field of Dreams amends generational gaps and unresolved tensions, so life can progress while respecting the past. The sports drama’s magic is comforting sentimentality for past eras with nostalgia while resolving the inability to progress in the present.

Classic movie actor Burt Lancaster makes his final film appearance.


As Field of Dreams moves forward with ‘60s counterculture parents stopping neo-fascists from banning books in the present, it also focuses on classic cinema, revolutionary authors of past eras, and America’s favorite pastime. Field of Dreams subtly addresses how people, art, or eras in history that made such a profound impact on culture get left in the past. Classic movie actor Burt Lancaster makes his final film appearance, Annie references Citizen Kane, and early 20th-century baseball players get to be young and play the sport they’re passionate about again.

Karin watches Jimmy Stewart in Harvey while Field of Dreams is a pre-modern Frank Capra film, and a revered, controversial author reconnects with his optimistic fight. Many of these figures never found life in modern-day society because they became outdated, couldn’t adjust to the times, or stuck themselves in the past due to unrealized goals. Field of Dreams attempts to resolve the issues between older generations that couldn’t properly move past their dreams of the past and gives them a proper send-off.


Field Of Dreams Makes Parents Real People

Ray Finally Understands His Father

Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) with his family, shaking hands with John (Dwier Brown) in Field of Dreams.

Field of Dreams’ central themes include fatherhood and parent-child issues. Ray Kinsella’s main regret in life is his relationship with his father, whom he antagonized after his dad constantly pushed him to be great at baseball. When young and naive, it’s difficult to look at one’s parents as real people with flaws and dreams instead of authority figures and caretakers. Similar to a question in Back to the Future, Field of Dreams asks what it would be like if one could meet their parents when they were young.

Ray now gets to experience his father as he truly was while being able to amend their torn relationship.


When Ray Kinsella finally sees his father as an optimistic young man passionate about baseball who hasn’t been scarred by the trials and tribulations of life yet, he can’t help but interact with him in the way he always dreamed. Ray now gets to experience his father as he truly was while being able to amend their torn relationship by playing catch again. Field of Dreams asks people to look at their parents as real people with dreams when forming overall opinions of their character.

The Field Of Dreams Ending Relieves Past Regrets To Move Forward

The Only Way To Move On In Life (And Death)

Ray (Kevin Costner) and John (Dwier Brown) talking in Field of Dreams.


People can’t rest when stuck in the past or what could’ve been, so Field of Dreams shows how one’s regrets can be resolved to move on with life and progress. The White Sox players finally get to play on the diamond again, so they move on to the afterlife; Ray amends his issues with his dad while forgiving him for being a real, flawed human being; Terence’s pain that he couldn’t achieve his dreams is relieved through reconciliation of his past; “Moonlight” Graham (Burt Lancaster) finally gets to hit a ball in a pro game while winking at the pitcher.

Field of Dreams
allows people to rectify their regrets if they choose to face them.

It’s difficult to progress when plagued by the guilt of what was, wasn’t, or could have been, and Field of Dreams allows people to rectify their regrets if they choose to face them. Kevin Costner brilliantly illustrates how Ray could only amend his issues with his father once he agreed to build the baseball field. Terence could only rediscover his purpose when he decided to go with Ray. As the Field of Dreams voice said to Ray, “If you build it, he will come.” It can translate to “if you confront your past, you can change your future.”


Archie “Moonlight” Graham’s story is especially poignant as he has a sweet return home after dedicating his life to helping the masses and finally fulfilling his dreams. His story wasn’t tragic like the other missed opportunities with Field of Dreams’ characters — Graham enjoyed being a doctor and living a quiet life with his wife.”Moonlight” Graham’s story gives Field of Dreams a plotline from the Christmas classic It’s a Wonderful Life, showing that Archie’s life was much more meaningful as a doctor even though he couldn’t professionally play baseball.

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Graham can only realize his baseball dream and move on when he becomes a young man because he only has regrets for his younger self. His baseball career didn’t haunt him into old age as he led a fulfilling life. Archie didn’t need to experience another timeline where he got to hit a ball in an inning, be a major league player, and have his baseball dream come true — he just needed to know that he could have had a great career to finally rest.

What Field Of Dreams’ Ending Really Means

Field of Dreams Ending Is About Optimism

Baseball players in a corn field in Field of Dreams

It’ll be just like when they were kids… People will come. There’s a reason why Disneyland is such a phenomenon; it allows people to be kids again and smile (but instead of cheering on Shoeless Joe Jackson, they cheer on Mickey Mouse and Luke Skywalker). Regardless of who they are, people need to carry this bit of optimism and joy in themselves as they’re surrounded by so many outlying forces that can cause regret.


The
Field of Dreams
ending symbolizes how people can come back and experience their dreams.

The Field of Dreams ending symbolizes how people can come back and experience their dreams without being pained with regret and losing sight of themselves. Not everyone’s dreams can come true, but that doesn’t mean people shouldn’t hold onto the hope and joy of when they believed they could. In places like the Field of Dreams, one must believe and let go of realism to enjoy a dream come true or the subtle joys of life.

Is Field Of Dreams A True Story And Does That Matter For The Ending?

Field of Dreams is based on the novel Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella

Blended image of Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) and the Field of Dreams farm and baseball field
Custom Image by SR Editor


Field of Dreams‘ uplifting message begs the hopeful question, as with other sports dramas such as the beloved Apple TV+ series Ted Lasso, of whether a real person inspired the story. Unsurprisingly, the supernatural phenomena in Field of Dreams are fictionalized, but some characters are based on actual people. The 1989 movie Field of Dreams is based on the novel Shoeless Joe by W.P. Kinsella, which features the baseball player of the same name, as well as Archie “Moonlight” Graham.

The movie has a ring of authenticity to it, but the plot and most of the other characters aren’t based on a true story.

Both Shoeless Joe and Moonlight Graham were MLB players in the early 1900s whose stories were loosely translated into Kinsella’s novel (Graham was indeed a medical doctor, and Shoeless Joe was implicated in the infamous “Black Sox” scandal of the 1919 World Series). The movie has a ring of authenticity to it, but the plot and most of the other characters aren’t based on a true story. Ultimately, however, this doesn’t matter for Field of Dreams‘ ending, as the movie’s heartwarming message holds up even without a concrete relationship to real history.


Field Of Dreams’ Ending Separates It From Kevin Costner’s Other Sports Movies

Kevin Costner Is A Veteran Of Sports Movies

There is not a bigger actor in baseball movies than Kevin Costner. While he has since become known for Westerns, Costner was mostly a baseball sports movie actor in the eyes of many fans for years. However, there is a big difference between Field of Dreams and his other baseball movies’ endings. Costner has starred in Chasing Dreams (1982), Bull Durham (1988), Field of Dreams (1989), and For Love of the Game (1999). Add in the NFL movie Draft Day and golf movie Tin Cup, and it seems like Costner has been in more sports movies than Westerns.


Every Kevin Costner Baseball Movie

Title

Release Year

Character

Chasing Dreams

1982

Ed

Bull Durham

1988

Crash Davis

Field of Dreams

1989

Ray Kinsella

For Love of the Game

1999

Billy Chapel

However, the Field of Dreams ending separates it from the other movies because it is a sentimental look at society, generations, and how the world could be a better place. Bull Durham was about minor league baseball, and while it had a generational gap involved in the story, it was all about the game. For Love of the Game was a love letter to baseball itself.

Mean while, Draft Day and Tin Cup were a lot more pessimistic about the sports, and both approached sports from the business side of things. The Field of Dreams meaning didn’t care about business; it was about making dreams come true in real life, away from the spotlight.


Field Of Dreams’ Ending Is So Iconic It Spawned A Real Game

MLB Plays A Regular Season Game There Every Year

MLB at Field of Dreams stadium

Starting in 2021, Major League Baseball (MLB) began playing a regular season game every year at a ballpark adjacent to Field of Dreams Stadium in Dyersville, Iowa. In that first game, the Chicago White Sox beat the New York Yankees, 9-8. This was a huge call since it was the Chicago White Sox that Shoeless Joe’s baseball scandal was based around. The next season, it was a different Chicago team as the Cubs played the Cincinnati Reds, beating them 4-2, making both of the first two wins from Chicago-based teams.

The stadium’s design copies that of the Chicago White Sox stadium from 1910 to 1990.


The Field of Dreams movie and its legacy, including the Field of Dreams meaning of optimism and hope, led to MLB building its stadium near the original (which couldn’t have games without a major redesign, as that would destroy the authenticity of the tourist destination). Even more important, the stadium’s design copies that of the Chicago White Sox stadium from 1910 to 1990, paying homage to the Black Sox scandal and Shoeless Joe.

Sadly, the days of the Field of Dreams MLB game might have ended. There was no game in 2023, as construction on the stadium forced its cancelation. There was a game in 2024 scheduled for Alabama that is similar, but it seems the MLB stadium is now being transformed into a youth baseball and softball complex, although the owners have not counted out future MLB games there in the future (via Deadline).

Field of Dreams Movie Poster

Field of Dreams

Based on a novel by W. P. Kinsella, Field of Dreams stars Kevin Costner as Ray Kinsella, a farmer living in Iowa who one evening begins hearing a mysterious voice urging him to build a baseball diamond in his cornfield. An avid baseball fan, Ray takes on the project in hopes of honoring his late father. Amy Madigan, James Earl Jones, Ray Liotta, and Burt Lancaster also star. 

Director
Phil Alden Robinson

Release Date
May 5, 1989

Runtime
107 minutes


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