Field’s scary moment

A Mystic River-ish childhood anecdote from Little Children director-writer Todd Field, passed along to Oregonian critic Shawn Levy and posted on his “Mad About Movies” blog:
“I remember coming home one day on my bicycle along this gravel path, and this Ford Falcon pulled up, this white Ford Falcon with two guys in it, and they said ‘Come ‘ere kid, come ‘ere.’ And you know when you’re near trouble, at any age. And I knew they were bad, and I knew they were gonna get me in that car, and I knew that no one was every gonna see me again and they would do bad things to me and I would be dead. And I was screaming and tried to get away, and my bike fell in the gravel and they started chasing me, and lo and behold the next-door neighbor started coming down the street and saw me, and these guys ran and they sped off. And they didn’t catch them.
“And I went home and I told my parents and they didn’t show the fear that they had about the situation, but they didn’t stop letting me have my independence. And that’s what formed me as a human being: being allowed to have that childhood. And I wouldn’t trade that for anything. I’d just as soon have gone off in that car and not exist as not have the childhood that I had, which was tremendous — a great, great childhood. And [yet] as I’ve observed other parents in places I’ve lived — Los Angeles, New York and even London — it was a rare childhood.
“It didn’t have to do with my parents being good consumers and going out and buying everything and making you safe. They let us be as children and let us be feral and let us figure out who we were. They let us fight our own battles and some of them were hard.”

  • cleopatrajones

    I wonder how many of us have had similar experiences. When I was about 15 I was walking home after dark when I saw a figure, a man standing under a pine tree. I couldn’t see his face, could only make him out from the shoulders down but I knew without a doubt that if I walked by him, things would change. That he was going to hurt me. I was only about 100 – 150 feet from my home but instinct told me to change direction and take the long way home. That was almost 20 years ago and I will never forget the terror that took over my body.

  • Krazy Eyes

    I don’t doubt the Field story but one also needs to wonder how many of these instances are the product of a child’s overactive imagination?

  • Not as much as you might think, Krazy Eyes. When I delivered newspapers in my youth (from 1984-1992), I once had a guy ask me if I would put fliers in my newspapers for a dollar…and the fliers were in the trunk of his car, which he needed help getting out. Thanks to my training, I said no and went up to the next house. He followed me for a couple of blocks before he left. It wasn’t an overactive imagination…until I hit puberty, I didn’t really realize what that guy was all about. It wasn’t all that scary at the time, only in retrospect.

  • Nicol D

    “I’d just as soon have gone off in that car and not exist as not have the childhood that I had, which was tremendous — a great, great childhood.”
    Reason number 4,813,547 why people think those in Hollywood are dumbasses.
    If Field is happy he had lenient parents who did not worry about him, great. But to make a glib comment like that, when thousands of children are abducted every year, never to be seen again…what a dumbass.

  • agrayesq

    Listen…It doesn’t matter if you’re raised to be aware or not. My experience was my paino teacher who I soundly punched at the age of 12. I was lucky. I also was 5’11” 180 pounds at that age. I was also not believed by anyone, even parents who raised me to be aware of things like that. No one believed me until he was arrested ten years later. Over four dozen guys came forward after that, and I was vindicated.

  • The Movie Man

    I think I have to lean with Nicol on this one, I understand the importance of wanting to raise a child not to be afraid of everything and cower from life, but that statement about essentially rather having been abducted than being raised in a restrictive household is just pretentious, art house chic bullshit.

  • Sean

    I don’t think he meant it in the extreme way it’s being interpreted. I think the key thing he expressed being ignored is “and not exist” … he’s just saying, “I can’t imagine any other childhood, and I’m glad my parents gave it to me exactly as is.” I agree he’s expressing it badly, but his point is that he’d rather not have had a childhood than have had a “worse” one. He’s using the specific example as one way he could “not exist”; it’s badly thought out, but if he could express himself in words, he wouldn’t be a director.

  • NYCritic

    Sean, I disagree about the last line in your comment. I would argue that because Field cannot express himself in words he is NOT a good director. He may have a way with actors (by virtue of having been a working actor) but his films are overlong and rambling — sort of what he’s like when he’s speaking to the public or in interviews.

  • Pelham123

    Fields’ meaning couldn’t be more clear – “Live Free or Die”. It’s something America, and Americans, used to be known for.