Being born in 1975 means I’ve always felt very fortunate to have been the perfect age when Hollywood went through an amazing Golden Age of youth-oriented cinema. I was 7 when E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial hit the screen (my very first movie in a theatre), then there was Gremlins and The Neverending Story both in 1984 when I was 9, and Back To The Future in 1985 when I was 10. But without question the film that had the most profound effect on me during my elementary school years was Stand By Me.
Released in August of 1986, Stand By Me takes place in the summer of 1959 and follows 4 young boys from Castle Rock, Oregon (a fictional town named after the fictional town of Castle Rock, Maine which is where Steven King set the original story in his novella The Body as well as many more of his stories) as they head out to track down the dead body of a boy who had been hit by a train. Their journey not only leads them to a deeper understanding of life, death, and the human experience because of what happens when they find the body, but most importantly because of what happens to them together along the way. Stand By Me is a terrific example of how a masterfully-told story will always stand the test of time. The film has aged beautifully and remains a cherished classic for people of all ages.
Earlier today the team at VICE published an essay written by James Franco in which the writer-director-artist-actor-professor expounds on the timeless beauty and themes explored in the classic film directed by Rob Reiner. The following is a short excerpt:
“At the end of the story Gordy as the narrator reveals that all three of his companions died prematurely: Vern by fire, Teddy in an accident, and Chris Chambers by an incidental stabbing. The characters in the film are spared such fates, changing the emphasis of the film. In [Stephen King’s original short story ‘The Body,’ on which the film is based], death and abuse are crucial themes. All four of the boys have either mentally or physically abusive families and all but one will die early, and the survivor, Gordy, lost his brother at a young age. The emphasis on death makes the trip to see the dead body a meditation on death and small-town strangulation of imagination. The body is a touchstone for all of them, before it they are equal. After seeing the dead, they will all go on their respective paths — as King says in the book and not the movie, some will have to drown.”
You can read James Franco’s essay Keep Standing By Me, in full, by visiting VICE.com. And for my own personal reasons for why Stand By Me is one of my favorite films of all time you can read “Stand By Me” And The Timeless Beauty Of Oregon, The Ottawa Valley, And Small Town Life.