Author logo Media Study - Field of Dreams

Starting your work
Social and media context
Presentational devices
Visual images
Significant achievement
Making a judgement
GCSE criteria: reading
GCSE criteria: writing


This guide has been written to help you study a feature film. It is specifically written for students in England and Wales, studying media for assessed work in English in Key Stage 4 of the National Curriculum (GCSE). It may be of interest to students of film generally.

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Suggested title

How has Phil Alden Robinson presented Field of Dreams for the cinema?

Starting your work

Give a brief outline/summary of the film - do not go into detail (less than a page will do).

  • Explain that the film is adapted from a novel, Shoeless Joe, by W.P. Kinsella, with some changes.
  • Briefly write about Phil Alden Robinson as writer-director.

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Social and media context of the film

Social context
  • What is the film about - its subjects and themes?
  • Explain the importance of sporting history in the film - the relevance of the Chicago Black Sox and “Shoeless” Joe Jackson fixing the 1919 World Series.
  • Explain why Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) has to build the baseball diamond in the middle of nowhere.
Media context
  • Explain how the narrative has been presented for cinema.


  • Comment on interesting passages of dialogue - especially to show the characters of Ray, his wife, Annie, daughter, Karin and others, such as Dr. Graham.

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Presentational devices

Comment on the following, as far as you are able:

  • Structure (sequence) of narrative.
  • Music and sound FX.
  • Stunts and special effects (SFX) e.g. for the appearance of the ghosts.
  • Acting - comment on the performances of Kevin Costner, Amy Madigan, Gaby Hoffman, Ray Liotta, Timothy Busfield, James Earl Jones and Burt Lancaster.
  • Direction - comment on Phil Alden Robinson's directing of the film: look at structure, use of locations, the pacing and presentation of the narrative, the way the ghosts are shown.

Visual images

Comment on the following, as far as you are able:

  • Cinematography (how shots are composed, use of colour and lighting and so on).
  • The way the film presents (visually) everyday life on Ray's farm and the appearance of the baseball players.
  • Camera angles.

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Significant achievement in cinema

  • Why is this (or is it not) a good film? To answer this, look in more detail at a range of scenes.

Making a judgement

Finish your response with a personal evaluation - what you liked about the film, and why.

In writing about Field of Dreams you may use reviews from magazines or Web sites. You are allowed to quote from these, but should show quotation with inverted commas. You may express agreement or disagreement with what you find in these reviews.

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GCSE criteria

Exam boards publish guidelines (descriptions, called criteria) for teachers, to help them award marks for speaking and listening, reading and writing. Oral coursework may be marked for speaking and listening, and for reading. Written coursework may be marked for reading and for writing.


For reading, your mark depends upon how well you do, but you must look at three things:

  • The content of the films - what they are about, and their historic and media significance.
  • Style, structure and appeal to audience.
  • Language, presentational devices and visual images - how these create emotive and persuasive effects, and relate to other media.


For writing your mark depends upon how well you do in two respects:

  • How you organize your ideas.
  • How you choose a suitable (impersonal) style and control your writing.

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