Kevin Costner and Amy Madigan as Ray and Annie in Field of Dreams

This One Scene Reminds Us That ‘Field of Dreams’ Was Ahead of the Curve

I love the 1989 sports fantasy film Field of Dreams, but watching the film nowadays comes with a cost. I often watched the film with my dad as a kid, who was a big fan of Kevin Costner and baseball movies. My father passed away back in 2021, so revisiting these films now is bittersweet, to put it mildly.

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Field of Dreams is almost impossible to watch without sobbing, no matter what your relationship with your dad may be. The film follows the story of Ray Kinsella (Costner) in the midst of a chaotic time when a voice tells him to build a baseball field in the middle of his corn crops in Iowa because “if you build it, he will come.” As he tries to navigate what is going on, things are also not perfect in his town. His wife Annie (Amy Madigan) is upset because the school district is trying to ban a controversial book, written by fictional author Terence Mann (James Earl Jones) at their daughter Karin’s (Gaby Hoffman) school.

Imagine watching this in 2023 and seeing a conversation we’re having today mirrored in this movie released in 1989. Annie fights with the school board and stands against censorship. It’s a conversation we know much too well, as book bans are sweeping the country. Watching this in the ’90s, it wasn’t that far removed from ongoing conversations. But 35 years later, we’re still in the same place. That realization is a tough pill to swallow.

We’re still having these same fights almost 35 years later

What is even more upsetting when breaking down this scene is that the themes in Mann’s book were about rebellion and standing up against the government. The books they’re trying to ban now? Books that celebrate diversity. Books that simply have the last name “Gay” in them. Time and time again, we hear stories of how these book bans have gotten out of control and we’ve fallen so much further since this scene was released in the ’80s.

Many connect Mann back to authors like J.D. Salinger, mainly because Mann becomes a recluse (and because that was the original idea before Salinger threatened to sue) and Ray has to go and find him to make his dreams come true. But the content of Mann’s work is something that isn’t detrimental to the growth of children, much like Salinger’s work wasn’t. I grew up loving the work of authors like Salinger. But I only got to read him because teachers took an interest in me and suggested books like Catcher in the Rye and Franny and Zooey.

Without these teachers, who understood and guided their students, I would have never found one of my favorite authors. Seeing scenes like this in Field of Dreams really reminds me that this fight over books and what kids should and shouldn’t have access to isn’t new. This has been going on for decades and it’s ridiculous.

(featured image: Universal Pictures)

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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her current obsession is Glen Powell's dog, Brisket. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.