field of dreams cast
Photo: Instagram/Terence Mann

Some movies are truly magical. They lift you from your everyday existence, make you see things that are there but can’t be easily seen, and give you a vision that transcends your regular level of intellect. The 1989 film Field of Dreams is one such film. Though classic is a term often used to describe this small movie that became unforgettable for anyone who has ever seen it, it is more than just that. Field of Dreams is a movie that makes you believe in the power of selfless belief. It makes you believe that if your aching desire to do something that your soul wants you to do is authentic you can make it happen. The power of innocence, your integrity, and your unbridled passion are so creative that the impossible can happen. You just have to believe! Field of Dreams did many things – It is one of the best movies ever made with baseball as a theme, it is one of the best adaptations of a book into a movie, it made Kevin Costner into an American icon, and it earned Hollywood respect for making a film with such an esoteric story. It also gave filmgoers one of the most intriguing characters seen in films – The reclusive author Terence Mann.

What is “Field of Dreams?”

 

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Field of Dreams is an American sports fantasy drama film released on May 5, 1989, which was directed by then little-known director Phil Alden Robinson. It was adapted from a novel Shoeless Joe written by W.P. Kinsella that first hit bookstores in 1982. The film stars Kevin Costner as Ray Kinsella, a farmer, who hears mysterious voices which urge him to build a baseball field right in the middle of his cornfield even though he is struggling financially. Despite opposition from family, relatives, friends, and the bank he builds the baseball field, and then one day the unthinkable happens – the ghosts of baseball legends like Shoeless Joe Jackson and the Chicago Black Sox team appear and start playing baseball. While Ray and his supportive wife Annie are struggling to build the baseball field they hear of a writer named Terence Mann whose books are in danger of being banned by people who don’t like them. Ray realizes that Terence Mann had named one of his characters John Kinsella, which was the name of Ray’s estranged and dead father, and Mann also had a desire to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Terence Mann Turns into a Believer!

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Terence Mann is a recluse who refuses to meet people and be social and writes his books in isolation. Ray convinces Mann to attend a baseball game in Fenway Park, a baseball park in Boston, Massachusetts, where Mann after some pushing accepts that he too heard a voice urging him to “go the distance,” a metaphor for believing in Ray’s mission. Ray builds his baseball field and the ghosts of the great baseball players of the past come and begin playing. Mann believes in Ray’s vision as it is playing out in front of him and tells Ray that people will come to the field to watch the games to relive their childhood dreams and innocence. Then Shoeless Joe comes to them and invites Terence Mann to enter the field and play with him and the other all-star players. Terence Mann knows that this is the chance to fulfil his life’s dream and he steps into the magical baseball field and disappears from view.

Is Terence Mann Dead?

 

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Moments later the film reaches its emotional zenith when Ray recognizes his dead father John Kinsella’s ghost on the field and then gets to meet him. Later Ray introduces John to his wife Annie and his heart finally finds peace when he plays baseball with his father and finds closure to his earlier troubled relationship with him. Even though Field of Dreams is more than three decades old people are still thinking about the character Terence Mann and asking – What happened to Terence Mann in Field of Dreams? There are different theories regarding this. Some fans believe that Mann steps into the mystical baseball field to play with these ghosts and effectively steps into the afterlife. He fulfils his lifelong yearning but also dies doing it. He tells Ray before going that he will come back and write a story about all this but many believe that he won’t come back as he dies. Some fans believe that Mann dies early in the film and is with Ray as a dead person. What happened to Terence Mann is still a matter of speculation among the film’s numerous fans.

The Real Man Behind the Fictional Terence Mann!

The Field of Dreams cast includes Kevin Costner, Amy Madigan, Gaby Hoffman, James Earl Jones, Ray Liotta, Burt Lancaster, and Frank Whaley. Veteran actor James Earl Jones plays the mysterious character of Terence Mann. The interesting thing is that while Terence Mann is a fictional character in Field of Dreams he is based on the real-life author J.D. Salinger best known for writing the controversial book The Catcher in the Rye. W.P. Kinsella, the author of Shoeless Joe, was a huge J.D. Salinger fan and wanted to include him in one of his books and finally did it in this book. J.D. Salinger was furious and threatened to take legal action if his name was included in any other media adaptations of this book. So the creators of Field of Dreams changed the name to Terence Mann to avoid legal trouble but gave homage to Salinger’s desire to fulfill his baseball dreams. It was Kinsella and the filmmakers’ decision to use Terence Mann’s character to promote the idea that a man can step out of his reclusive past and fully participate in the infinite possibilities of the open future. This is why even today people are fascinated by the character of Terence Mann in Field of Dreams.

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