Reflections on Mystery in “Field of Dreams”

I was raised on a steady diet of Tom Cruise and Kevin Costner films. My first rated R film was a present from my mother – “The Last Samurai” (which I think is Tom Cruise at his best, next to Magnolia). This cinematic education came steadily thanks to my mother, who, if not for my dad’s existence, would probably have happily moved to Hollywood to marry one of these seminal actors. Not great actors, but nevertheless, seminal.

Thanks to my father, I learned the difference between a good and bad movie musical.

But, of all the films, the one that has stayed with me the most is Field of Dreams.

This is a film. A good film. A timeless film.

However, it wasn’t the music that stayed with me, though its one of my favorite scores. No. Nor was it the cinematography, though corn never looked so mythical since then (that is until Interstellar). No. Nor was it the immediate sense of “I know this story, but I’ve never seen it,” though the film’s imagery and themes are strikingly and unashamedly Americana. No. Nor was it the subtle camera movements, though I have been amazed at how intimate a dolly shot can actually be. No. This is a towering spiritual mono-myth that Campbell would enjoy.

What stayed with me was the “mystery.”

After the opening background montage grounds the films as a historical fiction, we are immediately turned on our heads. Throughout the film, we are left wondering, “Where is this going? How does this end? What does it all mean?”

And the films does this in a brilliantly simple technic – We see everything through Kevin Costner’s eye. He’s in every scene. What he learns, we learn. What he doesn’t know, we don’t know. How he sees everything, that’s how we see it.

This is what had made such an impression on me, even after all these years. Because I forget how good this film is. Because it feels so natural watching it.

I get lost in the corn maze of Field of Dreams and each time I watch it, I am amazed at how fresh the mystery feels.

It really is magical. It really is mythical. It really is mysterious.

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