Great Character: Roy Kinsella (“Field of Dreams”)

November 9th, 2012 by

This month’s Great Character theme: Sports figures. Today: Jason Cuthbert’s guest post features Ray Kinsella from the 1989 movie Field of Dreams (screenplay by Phil Alden Robinson, novel by W.P. Kinsella).

The cosmic motivation of dreams and the spiritual fulfillment of faith are two extremely crucial themes in our lives – as well as the 1989 hit baseball film Field of Dreams. Can we truly have anything significant to hope for without dreams? Furthermore, can we even expect our hopes to materialize without faith? Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner), an amateur corn farmer has his own faith and dreams tested when he is faced with giving up his financial stability for the hit-or-miss notion of creating a baseball diamond on his rural property.

Field of Dreams plot summary from IMDB:

An Iowa corn farmer, hearing voices, interprets them as a command to build a baseball diamond in his fields; he does, and the Chicago Black Sox come.

Screenwriter and director Phil Aiden Robinson surely must have seen many of his own dreams come true when Field of Dreams became a homerun at the box office, raking in over $84 million (in 1980’s money), earning three Academy Award nominations – Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Score, and providing the great Burt Lancaster with his last movie role as Dr. Archibald “Moonlight” Graham. Merging the seemingly opposite genres of the sports drama with the magical whimsy of fantasy provides this story’s protagonist Ray Kinsella a visually appealing playing field to be emotionally challenged in. Also, the plot takes a swing at our own daydreams of meeting personal heroes and prominent figures that are no longer among the living.

Kinsella is not a cynical, jaded pessimist. Nor is he confused about who he is and what means the most to him. His journey is not about trying to find faith – but to trust his own enough to take action. Ray Kinsella is being called to take action similar to the way religion challenges us to choose the spiritual path that God has provided for us as opposed to the worldly road of material pursuit that we have constructed for ourselves.

RAY KINSELLA: I’m 36 years old, I love my family, I love baseball and I’m about to become a farmer. But until I heard the voice, I’d never done a crazy thing in my whole life.

But part of the challenge of Ray’s faith is convincing his wife Anne to share that journey with him, with so much to lose.

ANNIE KINSELLA: Hey, what if the Voice calls while you’re gone?

RAY KINSELLA: Take a message.

It’s not easy hearing your calling to make a leap of faith and no one else can confirm the joy of that message.

RAY KINSELLA: It’s okay, honey. I… I was just talking to the cornfield.

Ray Kinsella might even have an understanding of how the biblical hero Noah felt when God called upon him to build an Ark and he turned it into the ultimate zoo.

The true beauty of Ray Kinsella’s pursuit of his dreams in those blessed cornfields, and rising to the occasion when his faith was tested, is the victorious reward that came after undergoing such a risky sacrifice – Ray’s unexpected family reunion.

For his strength to risk being a failed family provider – without losing their love in the process – trusting the miracles of a higher power and fearlessly behaving in a manner that could have had him clinically committed – Ray Kinsella is truly a GREAT CHARACTER.

Thanks to Jason for today’s post. Join us in comments for a conversation about Field of Dreams.

3 thoughts on “Great Character: Roy Kinsella (“Field of Dreams”)

  1. John Arends says:

    Terrific post, Jason, for one of my top 10 of all time movies. Thanks!

  2. Ray Kinsella’s (Kevin Costner) hero’s journey was great. Absolutely, yes.

    But what got me excited about Field of Dreams was that it wasn’t simply about one man’s dream (Kinsella’s), it was about several people’s dreams and journey’s.

    Take Dr. Archibald “Moonlight” Graham, for example. He only wanted “One at bat against a major league pitcher. One chance to face him down. Feel the wood in my hands. See what’s he’s got”. 50 YEARS LATER, that dream was still crystal clear in his mind and heart, articulated with passion in his doctor’s office to Ray Kinsella.

    Dr. Graham finally got to touch that dream when he stepped into the batter’s box out there in Iowa.

    Or take Terrance Mann – writer, former radical, civic leader in the 1960’s, “currently being pestered by people like you, Ray Kinsella, people who want to relive the past”. Terrance got the writer’s dream gig, you might say, when “Shoeless” Joe Jackson invited him to walk out into the cornfields, and see what lies beyond.

    “Not you, Ray. Him”.

    Terrance got his imagination, his zest, his interest in life, back again on Ray’s little ball field (and especially while participating in Ray’s cross-country search for what the voices were telling him (“I admire your passion, Ray. It may be misdirected, but it is a passion nevertheless”).

    Field of Dreams was about several people reaching for their dreams.

    John A

    ps: and as an added bonus, when James Earl Jones gets up from his seat on the bleachers at the end, and talks about what baseball means to America, well, if you can’t get charged up about that . . .

    1. Scott says:

      Good analysis, John, and you are right: Several people at a nexus point in terms of their dreams.

      I’m quite familiar with this project. First I read the book before the movie. Second its producer Larry Gordon also produced K-9. Third both Field of Dreams and K-9 were released by Universal. Fourth they were released within 2 weeks of each other. In fact, I have a full two-page Variety ad from the studio with FOD on one page and K-9 on the other, both #1 movies.

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