Stand By Me (Rob Reiner, 1986, USA)

Rob Reiner's breakout film, and also the film that put dramatic Stephen King on the map, Stand By Me is a timeless coming-of-age story that has endured over the past few decades. Based on King's novella "The Body" from the legendary Different Seasons collection (which also spawned The Shawshank Redemption and the less appreciated Apt Pupil), this film is about a group of boys going to find a dead body in the Oregon forest during the summer of 1960 was a hard sell for studios. The film is remarkably faithful to King's source material, with a few changes, and because of this, it does not stray from the foul language. This guaranteed the film an R-rating.

Thankfully, perhaps due to the wave of Baby Boomer nostalgia that swept through the 1980s, the film was an immense critical and commercial success. The film has endured for several reasons. Firstly, it is a very well-crafted minute - at a tight 90 minutes, it never gets boring. The pop soundtrack and instrumental variations by Jack Nitzsche, along with the film's cinematography by Thomas Del Ruth, create a dreamy and nostalgic feeling throughout. Secondly, the performances are uniformly excellent. This is mainly because Reiner was able to cast young actors who were largely the embodiment of the characters they play on screen. It is hard to watch the film now and not think about the fate of actor River Phoenix in the context of the film.

Stand By Me ultimately succeeds because it is a sentimental film that manages to avoid being cloying or inauthentic. This is a rarity among films in general, but particularly among films with children. The team behind the film managed to capture lightning in a bottle, resulting in not only one of the best King adaptations but one of the best films of the 1980s.



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