In the novella _The Body_ and the movie “Stand By Me”, we see a story of four young boys who embark on a journey to find the dead body of Ray Brower, a boy about the same age as the four boys: Gordie, Chris, Teddy, and Vern. Gordie, is generally seen as the most intelligent of the four boys, giving guidance and answers to the other boys. Then there is Chris, the peacemaker of the group, Teddy, the comic relief for the group, and Vern, the loner of the group. The text very clearly defines these boys, and shows several examples of their roles and how it plays out on their voyage. At one point, Teddy foolishly attempts to dodge a train, but Gordie jumps in and tears him away. Milo, the dump owner, makes fun of Teddy’s dad, calling him a loony, amongst other things, tearing Teddy apart emotionally. Eventually he breaks down and cries, and Chris comforts him. Although this group of boys is portrayed throughout the novella and film as being dysfunctional, we see a unique sense of unity conveyed between these boys.
The novella focuses in on the largely portrayed theme of closeness and unity. The Novella is centered mainly around two characters, Gordie and Chris. Showcasing the closeness of the two boys. This first comes about when Chris shows Gordie the pistol that he brings along on the journey through the woods and becomes further detailed when Chris criticizes Gordie’s parents. Criticizing another person’s parents is unacceptable, unless the criticizer is close enough to do so. By middle school, Chris and Gordie began to drift away from Vern and Teddy who became “just two more faces in the halls.” Chris and Gordie’s friendship continued well beyond middle school.
Chris enrolled in college courses with Gordie, and Gordie tutored him all the way through high school. The bonds created and enhanced on the journey to find Ray Brower lasted a lifetime for the two, and even though they went their separate ways during college, they never forgot each other and the experiences they had together. The cinematographic sound technique plays a huge role in depicting the theme of closeness in the film. The sound choices showcase Gordie and Chris’s relationship by playing cheery pop, such as _Lollipop_ tunes, during the time when focused on Chris and Gordie and even the other boys paired up walking together in the woods.
When reading the novella, there is a sense of fear and suspense trickled through the words and scene choices. This feeling becomes intensified as the boys make the risky decision to get to their destination via train tracks, avoiding an extra ten or so miles.
In the film “Stand By Me”, we encounter the dramatic train scene, which is filmed in a way that provokes anxiety and fear when watching. The boys decide they are going to avoid an extra ten miles by trekking through the working train track bridge. Gordie steps up to the plate and leads the boys on this dangerous route. Composition refers to the arrangement of visual elements within a shot. We see a very powerful composition close up shot as Gordie is walking through the open tracks. The camera faces downwards and leaves us with the view of his shoes and the water 100 feet below him, ultimately giving the viewer a tremendous feeling of fear and curiosity wondering if they are going to make it before a train comes.
Although Chris could probably get over the train tracks at a faster speed, he chooses to stay behind Vern to make sure he can do it. We see a wide screen frame as Gordie realizes the train is approaching them. Vern freaks out and doesn’t know what to do, but Chris stays there with him, picks him up, and forces him to pull his act together so they do not get hit by the train. This wide screen frame far shot is very powerful because we are able to feel the stress that the train is coming right behind them and they are struggling as a unit to get to the other side before the train catches up with them. Through this shot we see the theme of unity and fear, which is shown throughout the movie and the novella.
In both the novella and the film, we see the theme of perseverance. On their long quest to find Ray Brower’s body, they encounter many unexpected roadblocks, making their journey much harder than expected. It would be very easy to give up, but instead they choose to embrace these difficult situations and get past them without getting discouraged. During the scene where they encounter a lake, the boys quickly become aware that they have all been swarmed by leeches. When watching this scene my first thought was, “Just give up already”, but the boys never gave up. For most people this would be an immediate end, but they didn’t let it bring them down. They picked up and continued. When watching this scene, we see the clear choice of a moving frame, honing in on each of the boys fear-filled faces. This technique magnifies the disgusting and panic infused feeling the boys are experiencing.
The film techniques in the film were clearly chosen and well thought out in the effort to convey the same themes and message that the novella portrayed. The viewer must use their knowledge on composition, special shots, and sound to put the pieces together and figure out how that plays a role in the bigger theme evolved in the novella.