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Stand By Me


Year: 1986 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 (XWide) 
Certificate: BBFC 15 Cert – Not suitable for under 15s 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  

Stand By Me is the story of four 12 year old boys, Gordie Lachance (Wheaton), Chris Chambers (Phoenix), Teddy Duchamp (Feldman) and Vern Tessio (O’Connell), who go on an adventure to find the body of another boy about their age. They set out to become heroes, in their town of Castle Rock they are regarded as losers, but on the way discover the true value of their friendships.  Along the railway they encounter many adventures and trials, including a run-in with the local gang of bullies who are determined to claim the glory for themselves.

The film establishes the importance of their quest by presenting it in a flashback narrated by the grown-up Gordie reacting to the news that Chris, a local attorney, was killed trying to prevent a robbery at a fast food joint (sadly mirroring the early death of River Phoenix).  The older Gordie’s memories of the adventure focus attention on its importance in shaping the direction their two lives would take. For Gordie, what happens with his friends on their trip, and especially its outcome, jolted him into maturity. And for his best friend Chris, what the four confront and overcome gives him the courage to get out of the dead-end rut everybody in Castle Rock is pushing him into.

This is a film about when lives are supposed to be simpler, when you’re young and are supposed to have no worries. While the adults in the film are battling their personal demons, the kids are left to rely on each other. 

OK, this is beginning to sound a bit soppy but think again. It’s based on a Stephen King book “The Body” (taken from the same collection of tales as The Shawshank Redemption, probably one of the best films of all time). This is the definitive coming-of-age road movie. It’s a classic, right in there with Labyrinth, The Goonies and Ferris Bueller. It’s one of those films you’ve probably only ever seen on TV, now’s the time to see it on the big screen.

It has some of the finest acting you will see in any film, regardless of the fact that the main stars are all barely scraping into their teens. It’s incredibly well directed and regardless of any of that, it’s a brilliant story which shows that King is not just a horror writer, and just before you wonder about the certificate, it’s almost entirely for bad language and kids smoking, it’s not going to make you scream but it will make you think.

Ben Goddard

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Screenings of this film:

2003/2004 Autumn Term (35mm)