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25 years after debut, 'Field of Dreams' an enduring 'parable of male longing'

It's now been 25 years since we first met Ray Kinsella, a child of the ‘60s turned reluctant Iowa farmer, who embarks on an illogical, fantastical journey that ends with a magical game of catch with his deceased father.

“Field of Dreams” debuted on April 21, 1989, and won critical and audience acclaim with its fanciful story and strong cast performances.

The movie featured memorable moments from stars Kevin Costner (as Kinsella), James Earl Jones as reclusive writer Terence Mann, Burt Lancaster as "Moonlight" Graham and Ray Liotta as the mysterious “Shoeless” Joe Jackson.

Based on a novel by W.P. Kinsella, “Field of Dreams” follows the story of Ray, who hears a voice in his cornfield and builds a baseball field believing it will bring back disgraced (and long deceased) baseball player “Shoeless” Joe Jackson.

The film introduced us to such memorable lines as “If you build it, he will come,” and “No. It’s Iowa (in response to Jackson’s question ‘is this heaven?’).

Take a look back at how the film was received by some top movie critics and online reviewers.

  • Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun-Times): "Field of Dreams" will not appeal to grinches and grouches and realists. It is a delicate movie, a fragile construction of one goofy fantasy after another. But it has the courage to be about exactly what it promises. (Score 4 out of 4)
  • Michael Wilmington (Los Angeles Times): All of this would work better if (director Phil Alden) Robinson built up the reality of the town more, made the citizens a more palpable presence, as Frank Capra did in Hollywood's greatest fable-fantasy, "It's a Wonderful Life." (Score 2.5 out of 5)
  • Rita Kemply (Washington Post): Poesy, pointlessness and baseball worship aside, the movie is easy to get along with.
  • Caryn James (New York Times): It seems much easier to fall into "Field of Dreams" than to resist its warm, intelligent, timely appeal to our most idealistic selves.
  • Kevin Hagopian (Penn State University): The story of Ray Kinsella's crusade to bring a perfect ballyard to his Iowa cornfield is an unashamed parable of male longing, an excusably sexist paean to a universe untroubled by the emasculating realities of corporate economics, and by the withering of skill that comes with age.

The iconic baseball field still stands in Dyersville, Iowa, and still draws tourists.

As a recent story in the Des Moines Register stated, "Hollywood carved 3 1/2 acres out of the fertile cropland into a magical place where the ghosts of baseball legends could materialize from out of the corn. 'Field of Dreams' . . .  has become one of the most beloved movies in a generation and transformed this small patch of Dubuque County into Iowa's most famous farm."

—Reviews were aggregated by

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