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“Is this Heaven?” “No. It’s Iowa”
After all these years, I finally understood how all the pieces/elements of the film fit, and why it was called Field of Dreams.
“If you build it, he will come”
When Ray Kinsella starts to hear mysterious voices in his head, He imagines that he has to plough through a vast portion of his farm in order to build a baseball field in the middle of nowhere. This seemingly insane idea was supposed to bring back the controversial baseball player, Shoeless Joe Jackson, who was also the hero of Ray’s father, struggling baseball player John Kinsella. Ray built the field out of a drive for doing something spontaneous and crazy, in order to avoid becoming his father, with whom he had a falling out. Shoeless Joe then appeared, as predicted, and explained that he felt that a big part of him was lost when he and his teammates were suspended for life for allegedly throwing the World Series. Thus, being able to play baseball again, after all these years, was a dream come true for Joe.
“Ease his pain”
After Ray had built the field, he heard the voice again, this time leading him to believe that he had to comfort the pacifist writer Terrence Mann. Through years of being tormented and humiliated by people with regards to his books, their content and messages, and many other things, Mann gave an interview to a local publication about how it has always been his dream to play ball with the big leaguers. Ray was able to get ahold of this publication, and made the connection between Mann and Baseball. It was his shared dream (an actual dream this time) with his wife that actually made him drive to Boston, “kidnap” Mann and take him to a ballgame at Fenway.
“Go the distance”
During the ballgame, Ray hears the voice once again, with an accompanying visual aid: The scoreboard flashes the name and baseball stats of a certain Archibald “Moonlight” Graham. Long story short, Ray and Mann both travel to Minnesota (apparently Terry Mann also heard it) to find out more about “Moonlight”, who, it turns out, had become a doctor after his short stint with the majors. In kind of the most fantastic part of the story, with a bit of time travel, Ray finds out that Moonlight had always wanted to stare a big league pitcher down and wink as he was winding up. Moonlight however, gave up this dream, as he did not want to leave Minnesota, and he didn’t want his wife to worry.
So it seems all is lost for Ray, but things take a turn when Mann says he wants to go to Iowa and see the field. Along the way, they pick up a young baseball player who, it turns out, is Moonlight’s younger self.
So what happens when they get back home?
Joe and the Sox invite other big leaguers (dead heroes) to play again. Dream Come True.
Aside from Terry watching the ballgame in Fenway, he gets invited by Joe to come along with the rest of the dead heroes. Dream Come True…sorta.
Archie Graham gets to wink at a big league pitcher while hitting, despite having his head almost being knocked off. Dream Come True.
All this time, I have thought that these were the most important plot points of the movie. Now, I find that, they were only the means to an end. All those voices were actually Ray’s all along. They were his conscience talking, trying to resolve things with his father. If he built the ballpark, his father would return. When he did, he had to ease his Father’s pain. How would he do that? By actually taking the pains to bring back his father’s heroes, and making the sport of baseball fun and great again. And in the end, he plays catch with his father, where as a rebellious teen Ray refused to do his “chores” of playing ball with his dad and insulted his father’s hero by calling him a criminal. His father admits to him that “It is like a dream come true”.
John asks: “Is this heaven?”, to which Ray replies (as he did to Joe early on) “No. It’s Iowa”.
Then Ray asks “Is there a heaven?”, to which John responds: “Yes. Heaven is the place where dreams come true.