Stand By Me
Dir: Rob Reiner
"I was 12 going on 13 the first time I saw a dead human being. It happened in the summer of 1959-a long time ago, but only if you measure in terms of years. I was living in a small town in Oregon called Castle Rock. There were only twelve hundred and eighty-one people. But to me, it was the whole world. "
Thus begins 'Stand By Me'.
Some films present scares, some present laughs, some present excitement.
These emotions are powerful, but 'Stand By Me' presents something rarer, but just as potent. It gives us 'nostalgia' - which is defined as 'a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.'
If 'Stand By Me' were to present a totally rosy picture, the nostalgia might be cheesy, and certainly 'Stand By Me' comes very close at times.
But 'Stand By Me' avoids cheesiness by recognizing that life is not all easy for kids. You might have family problems, problems fitting in, problems with bullies, but you always have your friends. And the friendships you have as a child are stronger than any friendship you find as an adult.
This may or may not be true. But of course true nostalgia is based on emotion not on the truth. It presents an idealized past which we yearn for, even if it never actually happened.
Some might watch 'Stand By Me' and identify with the friendships portrayed. But even if you have no similar memories, the nostalgia still works.
'Stand By Me' is based on 'The Body', a collection of novellas by horror-writer Stephen King. King once explained that he wrote novellas in between his epic horror novels as a sort of antedote - a way of refreshing himself before he embarked on the next blockbuster. Three of these have been made into films - 'The Shawshank Redemption', 'Apt Pupil', and 'Stand By Me'. Only 'Apt Pupil' failed as a film, and that's a pity, because it was a strong concept that should have made a better film. 'Shawshank Redemption' became one of the most critically-acclaimed and successful films of its era.
Originally, Adrian Lyne was set to direct, but had to be replaced by Rob Reiner after '9 1/2 Weeks ran overschedule. And that's probably a good thing. It is hard to imagine that Adrian Lyne would have been suited to the story.
Wil Wheaton went on to save the Starship Enterprise many times on 'The Next Generation', and now mainly works in TV.
Corey Feldman was one of the biggest child stars in Hollywood, but his career sputtered, and he wrote a book 'Coreyography', revealing his drug abuse, sex addiction, and parental neglect.
Jerry O'Connell lost his weight and nerdiness, and became something of a heartthrob, working regularly in TV.
And of course, we all know what happened to River Phoenix.
Perhaps, life was less complicated as a kid.