Kloipy’s Stephen King Series: Stand by Me

I was lucky enough to grow up in the time before the internet. I lived surrounded by forests and mountains. Each day growing up was a day spent exploring. Each discovery felt important, each step filled with the importance that childhood can bring to it. The days seemed as long as my shadow on the grass at noon. And at night, with the windows open, I’d listen to the songs of the crickets, the sweet whisper of the wind through the fields, and I count the stars until I fell asleep. TV at the time wasn’t important, it was my friends, and the tantalizing thought of what lay beyond that next hill.

I’m not sure how many children these days in this media saturated world can say they have the same experience. Friends are on Facebook, outdoor time is spent from the car to the front door. Stand by Me captures what was beautiful and overwhelming about growing up. It may not be a perfect film, but it’s about as good as anything I’ve ever seen about growing up. It’s almost frightening how close I can parallel similar experiences with my friends, my own feelings, at that time in my life. What the movie does right is not paint a perfect picture. It’s the whole ‘Norman Rockwell is bleeding” look at nostalgia. Life at once seems idlyic and yet terrible.

First, the movie understands what it’s like to be a boy, in that fragile state between wanting to be a kid and wanting to grow up. The cursing, the budding sexuality, the feeling of being a without a voice in the face of all knowing adults. Boys at that age shoot the shit, but they talk about it as if it’s the most important conversation that they will ever have. Discovering the world and yourself is a feeling that we never really get back, we don’t even know it when it happens, but somewhere there is a change from child, to young adult, and the implications it brings can do more than we can handle.

Gordie, Chris, Teddy, and Vern could be any group of friends. We recognize them instantly. They are all different and yet we know why they are friends. We had that group growing up. They set out on what is at first an adventure to find a dead body of a boy close to their age. It’s almost a symbol of the death of their innocense. There are so many wonderful scenes in this movie but I’d like to pinpoint a few for this review.

First is the scene that takes place in the treehouse at the start of the film. This scene sticks out to me because it’s just a bunch of friends who are all comfortable with each other and their place in the world. Just listen to the dialouge in the scene. It’s not forced, it’s exactly how kids talk at that age. The constant picking on each other, the feeling of being par of something no matter how small. All these actors were just that age theirselves and they give what I would consider the best performances of any child actors and of their own individual careers.

Next is the scene between Gordie and Chris. Teddy and Vern had already fallen asleep and Chris and Gordie were on watch. River Pheonix gives such a powerful performance telling the story of how he had stolen money and tried to give it back to a teacher. She took it for herself, but knew that no one would believe him over a teacher, especially a kid like him, whose family had a bad reputation. You see this child, who is a good kid, who wants to have a different life from his family be so let down by someone in a position he should be able to trust, and it breaks your heart. He says “I just want to go to a place where no one knows me” and we all can relate. Growing into yourself is difficult and we’ve all wished, maybe even as adults, to start over, to be a clean slate and erase the pain from what we only know.

The last scene is the discovery of the body of the boy. The boys stumble upon it and it’s not sensationalized. The scene is played exactly as what it is. The true finite answer that none of us can escape the end. Whether we grow into it or it’s thrust upon us, we all will end at some point. And you can see it in their faces as they uncover the body. This is not joke, no adventure. It’s the cruel indifference of life. It’s the understanding that truly gets us. Childhood is not about ignorance but more optimism. We all saw a world we thought we could conquer. Small enough to hold it within our reach. But we grow old by understanding that we have no true control. We are all caught in the struggle to find our own way, to accept that we can’t go back once we’ve started down that road.

What this movie does is makes us step back to a time we so often forget. That time when we all saw things from new eyes. When everything was fresh and not tainted by the hurt and the pain of what’s to come. It can help you come to terms with your own life. To try to not take the small things for granted. We can never be children again, but at least we can take a step back once and awhile. Sometime, I’d like you all to take a look at the setting sun. Watch for the colors of the sky and put the stress of day to day life away. Look at it like it’s the first time. Appreciate it as if it were something we didn’t have the pleasure to see each day. Remember how when as children the only thing it meant was that the next day would be filled with adventure. If you haven’t seen this movie do yourself a favor and see it as soon as you can. And if possible, by yourself. You won’t be let down.

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About kloipy

a poor deluded sap hoping to find his place in this mixed up crazy world

33 responses to “Kloipy’s Stephen King Series: Stand by Me”

  1. Droid says :

    I grew up in much the same way as you describe. Hardly ever watched tv or movies, every day during holidays I was outside before 8am on my bike riding around with my mates looking for an adventure, or just outside playing sports. I lived in a bushy area with dirt roads about 10 minute walk to the beach. Really fond memories. Can’t imagine too many kids these days having a similar experience.

    I love this flick. Seen it so many times and it never gets old. There is a heavy dose of nostalgia in it for me, with a lot that is recognisable. Not so much in specifics, but a lot of it is the feeling. The camaraderie with your mates, the hurry you’re in to grow up, the whole world that’s your to explore and the reckless abandon of just feeling invincible and taking off on some crazy mission. Yeah, really good movie this one. Nice one, Kloipy.

  2. kloipy says :

    thanks Droid. It’s a shame that most kids these days (look at me sounding like grandpa) would end that movie with this statement

    “We never have better facebook friends than when we were twelve. Jesus, do any of us?”

    • Droid says :

      “Last week, Chris logged onto his Facebook. In his inbox, he had two messages; one of them was suspicious. Chris, who’d always made the best peace, opened the message. His computer was infected with a virus; and shut down almost instantly. Although I hadn’t written on his wall in more than ten years, I know I’ll miss him forever.”

  3. ThereWolf says :

    Stand By Me is like a photo album from my childhood. Me and my mates, we did that stuff too – walking along the train tracks, no destination, just talking & messing around, jumping down the embankment if a train came by, trying to judge if a train was due before crossing a bridge. Endless walks along the canal bank, too.

    When I saw this (on VHS) all growed up with a mate of mine, at one point he turned to me and said – “It’s us.” I could see it in his eyes, he was chuffed but it kind of hurt too. Then it got to, “Mickey’s a mouse, Donald’s a duck, Pluto’s a dog. What the hell is Goofy?” We just nodded at each other and said – “Yeh, it’s definitely us.”

    The older I get the more moved I am by Dreyfuss’s brief performance.

    That’s some beautiful writing there, Kloipy. I was moved by that as well. Top work, fella.

    • kloipy says :

      Thank you so much Wolf. Watching it makes you wish you could go back for one more day. To experience that feeling again. It truly was an adventure back then. You felt like some great explorer seeing a new world before anyone else. Every once and awhile I will go back and revisit some of the old places that bear my long deserted footprints. It feels good

      • ThereWolf says :

        I go back to revisit, too – but so many of the places have changed now beyond all recognition. If I stand at some place on the canal bank I sometimes wonder if the ground remembers my younger feet.

        Then I’ll hear the echoes of our shouts in my head and I’ll think – “Yeh, the ground remembers me.” At least I think the echoes are in my head…

  4. ThereWolf says :

    Also, I’m at work & a colleague of mine sent me a link to listen to, didn’t know what it was. I set it playing and read the review.

    http://tinyurl.com/6psqjg

    Hang drum solo. It just seemed to work as a soundtrack for that little moment.

  5. just pillow talk says :

    An excellent fucking review Kloipy.

    Yup, we all grew up the same way: staying outside playing until the parents would yell your name to come in. “Only ten more minutes ma!”

    Dirt bomb fights, riding bikes, playing war, playing baseball..walking in the woods, sledding in winter until you couldn’t feel your extremities anymore, and then thawing oneself off which hurt like a bitch. Good times.

    • kloipy says :

      thank you Pillow! kids think we were invincible then. And perhaps we were in a way. but like Frost wrote “nothing gold can stay”

  6. kloipy says :

    I actually wrote a song about this topic once. It’s not great but here it is
    http://www.myspace.com/lizgoestorome

    • ThereWolf says :

      That’s all right. Got any more?

      Is someone singing with you or is the vocal double-tracked?

      Go on, I’ll ask: Why Liz Goes To Rome.

      I was going to be in a band once. We were going to be called The Irritable Bowels. We split up after 2 hours arguing in me front room. Musical differences…

      • kloipy says :

        I do have a lot of other stuff, but nothing recorded. Don’t have the money for the equipment as of yet. That was an old song and it’s just me double tracking it on a shitty system

        the name just popped into my head one day. I had the image of a girl sitting in a window and there it was

        Bands come and go, I just enjoy playing for the satisfaction

      • ThereWolf says :

        Cool.

        I’d have been tempted to single track it on the verses, then done a harmony on the chorus.

        Tempted… but as my singing voice sounds like the death rattle of a constipated yak – inadvisable.

        But you, you could pull it off okay.

  7. koutchboom says :

    I was one of those fancy lads growing up who didn’t like to get all dirty and nasty. So I explored with care. I mainly played sports growing up, but I grew up in the age of Nintendo and played a shit ton of that. So The Wizard’ is more of my childhood nostalgia movie moreso than this one.

    Great flick though. Need to see it again, also you should check out the Family Guy redo of it, if not just for the Roy Scheider/Richard Dreyfuss dueling voice over.

  8. coltighfighter says :

    Great childhood film of mine too. I had a very outdoorsy rough-and-tumble upbringing too.

    Fond memories of walking down the abandoned railway near our house 🙂

    • kloipy says :

      rough and tumble was the way to go. Pillow mentioned the dirt clod fights, and we had those too, but we also had corn battles. Where the object was to pull off a mature piece of corn in the field while running away, chucking it as high and far as you could, and hopefully hit one of your best friends. Good times

  9. Tom_Bando says :

    Fine fine review of a good good movie. I grew up in the willywags of N Maine, the whole exploring in the woods and being in the country was second nature to me. They certainly got that part right of this.

    I’ve nothing bad to say about the movie itself-it’s moving, well acted, nostalgic, well handled by all around. It’s worth seeing every now and again.

    I agree w/ Therewolf about returning to old haunts–sometimes it’s great, other times-as the world’s shrunk, it makes them seem soooo small. Makes ya think eh?

    • kloipy says :

      Thank you Tom. It’s weird how those places you go almost trap you in a amber. Like a piece of you will always live in those places.
      As Whitman said “Look for me under your bootsoles’

  10. redfishybluefishy says :

    Great film and great review, Kloipy. I always loved this flick and it kinda always felt like I was there, ever the tomboy, tagging along with the boys like I always did with my brother. It really is quite a slice of childhood and captures so well that moment in time when the innocence of youth starts sliding away.

    Fishing and railways and swimming with leeches… oh yes, this brings back memories….

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