Golden Oldie: Stand By Me (1986)

Stand by me - youtube

It is safe to say that I was desperately emotionally unprepared to watch Stand By Me. Not that I am entirely convinced that anyone ever can be, but seeing the film somewhat hung-over and on a big screen definitely did not aid the potential for falling into floods of tears each time subtle strains of Ben E King’s ‘Stand By Me’ came on in the background.

One of the most heart-breaking aspects of this film is the fact that it is carried by the late River Phoenix, in both his flawless acting and the way his character supports the rest. It is amazingly impressive to have a legacy despite having died so young, but the tragic reality is that he could have gone on to do so much or simply to live a life.

The characters’ light-hearted nature lifts the film out of sorrow, the way that optimists can lift us from the misery or morbidity of life as we know it

One of the amazing things about this film is the fun that resonates. Though the subject is essentially bleak, and the scenes are punctuated by harrowing revelations about the boys’ lives, joy is never lost. The characters’ light-hearted nature lifts the film out of sorrow, the way that optimists can lift us from the misery or morbidity of life as we know it.

The opening of the film always irritates me, being a Goonies girl at heart. Both films begin with an out-of-breath fat friend with big news to share, and the similarity is painfully overt. 

I felt incredibly lucky to have been able to see this film on the ‘big screen’. The impact during scenes such as the crossing the railway bridge was tangible. The drama of the moment and the smallness of the boys can be appreciated nowhere else.

The greatest (if clichéd) moment comes at the very end, when the grown-up Gordy muses on the brilliances of the friendships you make when you are twelve. It is impossible to watch this without thinking about your own, and I imagine I always will. 

At twelve we all had long greasy hair, short skirts and never stopped singing. Though the same is still essentially true, the essence of that time was so zesty it is hard to not think of it as the best of the best of times. You can try to rip off the rose tinted specs, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Get high on nostalgia (as long as you never feel the need to ‘make anything great again’) and watch this fabby fab film.

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