Thoughts On: Stand By Me - Fleeting Bittersweetness


Stand By Me - Fleeting Bittersweetness

Quick Thoughts: Stand By Me (1986)

After hearing that one of their older brothers found the body of a boy hit by a train, a group of slightly delinquent young teens go on an adventure to find him.

Stand By Me is, in my books, the best feature-length film about childhood ever constructed (the short, The Red Balloon, is a good contender). Not only are performances, from the smallest role to our main protagonists, brilliant, but the writing and direction supporting them is stellar. And the cinematography; Thomas Del Ruth puts to screen the rich, warm and bright dreaminess of a youthful prime through his sumptuous aesthetics, all of which are saturated with a calm sense of belonging and peace; a harmony of light and texture that streams off of the screen like gold. But, all of this would be for nothing if the adaptation of King's book, The Body, wasn't so purely brilliant.

In essence, Stand By Me puts to screen both the Never-Never-Land-esque feeling of youth's cradle at its most magical and the existential fear of the decline that exists beyond life as a free 12-year-old kid. This is done with a fair share of cliches (the use of dead brothers, mourning families and town bullies - which are sadistic and evil beyond any realistic confines), but it pays off wonderfully thanks to the balance put into place through melancholic themes such as fate, intermittency and growing up. This seems to be why our four main protagonists search for a dead body; they want to see what childhood looks like when it is stopped at its most fertile, but also want to feel the weight of reality and a bitter, sometimes cruel, world. And in facing these multifaceted ideas of youth, the future and death, our characters are broken down and revealed masterfully, time and time again.

But, what seems to rule this entire narrative is certainly the idea of fleeting, fragmented time, space and reality - all too quickly lost to past and to memory. And such seals the melancholy of Stand By Me. There seems to be no resolution, no happy ending, just a bittersweet taste of reality that leaves you buzzing with emotions a little too difficult to articulate.

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