A Few Thoughts on Stand by Me

I saw this the other day, and it made me think about the movie.  My first thoughts, the writer in me can appreciate it (and it’s my go to piece for saying, “See, Stephen King DOES write more than really scary, creepy stuff,” followed closely by Shawshank Redemption.  In fact, when I found out it was based on a King novella I was shocked, since I was of an age that only knew him from Carrie, Cujo and Salem’s Lot [among his other early 80’s novels].  SBM can be considered my gateway to reading King since, upon making that discovery, I picked up a paperback copy of Different Seasons just to read “The Body.”).

But it was my emotional reaction to the film, the first time that I watched it all the way through, that prompted my thoughts for this post… I cried, one of the few movies to actually push me to that point*.  Thinking back, I probably saw it on HBO or Cinemax, at about the same age as the characters.  Wil Wheaton mentions in his entry that he was twelve when they filmed it and River Phoenix was a few years older.  I was not much older than that when I watched it, which may have been how it started.

I was in the midst of junior high, almost in high school, and had an associative experience – my best friend through elementary school had moved to the west coast (his dad had been reassigned to a base in Washington State), and while we tried the pen pal thing (back in the ancient days before the internet and email) but eventually our communications fizzled away.  (I’ve thought about him and his family at different times over the years, and have tried looking them up on some of the social sites but with no success.)

But it was the age, which is the important thing, and the identification that could be made by someone so close to the age of the characters at the first viewing.  When I’ve watched it since, there’s still a little pull at the end of the movie and the reflections over the other friendships that have been made and gradually lost over the years (and the oh so precious few that manage to survive on long-distance strings), but nothing like that first one.  Sometimes it’s those friends you had when you were twelve that can make all the difference.

* Toy Story 3 is the most recent one I cried at the end of, and there have been very few that I have seen in the years between (about twenty now) that stick out.  The reason for TS3 doing it was two fold… I could relate to Andy’s position, but it was mainly the fact that I could project my nephews into Andy (and all of the growth, changes, and their entry into the bigger world that comes with it).

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