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Field Of Dreams In Iowa: Reality Meets Fantasy
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Field Of Dreams In Iowa: Reality Meets Fantasy

Coming from different ends of the spectrum, fantasy and reality combined often make strange bedfellows. But it was under just such circumstances that director Phil Alden Robinson made Field of Dreams in Iowa in the summer of 1988. The unlikely combination of fantasy and reality produced an Academy Award-nominated film, a legion of die-hard followers, and an inevitable collection of bloopers, oddities and fun trivial facts.

*For example, Shoeless Joe Jackson and the other seven banned members of the 1919 Chicago White Sox are real. So is Archibald 'Doc' Graham. But in the book 'Shoeless Joe', the book upon which Field of Dreams is based, author W.P. Kinsella borrows fictional lead character Ray Kinsella from a 1947 novel 'A Young Girl in 1941 With No Waist At All' by J.D. Salinger. And instead of Ray Kinsella looking for real-life writer J.D. Salinger, as originally written in 'Shoeless Joe', screenwriter/director Robinson has him searching for Terence Mann, a conjured-up figment of Robinson's imagination. With me so far?

*In the movie, Doc 'Moonlight' Graham says he was born in Chisholm, Minnesota. In reality, he was born in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Doc Graham did die in Chisholm, but that happened in 1965, not 1972 as the film suggests. His only major league appearance was in 1905, not 1922 as indicated by the Fenway Park scoreboard.

*Another fantasy/reality twist: After coming out of the corn for the first time, Shoeless Joe stands behind home plate with a bat in hand, explaining to farmer Ray how important baseball was to him. He said the smell of the grass would be in his nose when he woke at night, and the cool grass would be on his feet. Shoeless Joe marveled at the thrill of the grass. In 1985, author W.P. Kinsella published a book of short baseball stories entitled 'The Thrill of the Grass'. It's also worth noting that Joe Jackson was a left-handed batter and a right-handed thrower. Both are reversed in the movie.

* In 1975, W.P. Kinsella noticed Doc Graham's entry in the Baseball Encyclopedia and made note of his unusual career (one major league game, no at-bats). Kinsella eventually incorporated Graham as a character in his 1982 'Shoeless Joe' novel, the book upon which Field of Dreams is based. Any guesses as to what book Terence Mann was holding while sitting in the bleachers just prior to his 'people will come, Ray' speech? If you guessed 'Shoeless Joe'...*buzzer* Mann was holding a copy of the Baseball Encyclopedia.

*Field of Dreams begins with Ray Kinsella narrating his early childhood, telling us he was put to bed with stories about Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and the great Shoeless Joe Jackson. The Cracker Jack baseball cards used during the narration are modeled after genuine cards from the 1914/1915 time frame. However, the set shown does not actually include Babe Ruth's card, nor the card of Lou Gehrig, the latter not appearing in the major leagues until 1923. The Shoeless Joe Jackson Cracker Jack card from 1915 is real, however, and has become a treasured collector's item.

Mixing fantasy and reality can be confusing. It can be fun. It can even be rewarding. As our fictional hero Ray Kinsella learns, if you give the impossible a chance, sometimes incredible things really do come true.


Street Talk

I think mixing in the fact with the fantasy adds another layer to the movie and makes the magic so much more believable. So many details to uncover in this movie; I can see how you became a huge fan. I didn't know baseball cards came in Cracker Jacks, do they still? Always learning something new about this baseball stuff.

Reply
  about 9 years ago

Who would guess there are so many interesting facts behind this screenplay?

Reply
  about 9 years ago

Speaking of fantasy, it is rather fantastic in the sense that an author can collect disjointed historical characters to write a novel. Then a producer can massage that for his purposes and come up with such a memorable screen play.

Reply
  about 9 years ago
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