Essay, Pages 5 (1110 words)
I will be deconstructing four scenes from the film, ‘Stand by Me’, the opening scene, and back to the 50’s, the train scene and the final scene of the boys’ journey. Stand By Me is a coming of age film set in the 50’s where four boys Chris, Gordie, Vern and Teddy as we watch them go on a journey to adulthood. The film is more of process than an event. The boys’ purpose of the journey is to find a dead body.
In the first scene we see the title ‘Stand by Me’ in white font with a black background. There is no music. We then see a jeep in the distance and we are not quite sure yet what is going on.
The first scene
It is a hot landscape; we then see an establishing shot of a man in the jeep who looks quite dejected, cut to a newspaper with a headline saying ‘Attorney Chris Chambers Fatally Stabbed in a Restaurant’.
Two young men then ride past on bicycles from the point of view of the man in the jeep and the audience is lead to believe that this triggers a flashback of his past. The director tries to indicate to the audience what kind of film this is in the first scene. He is trying to prepare the audience what is to come in the rest of the film and already the spectators know that the film is a sad, thoughtful film.
The second scene
The next extract I will be analysing is back to the 50’s, the second scene.
In this scene we see a young boy purchasing a magazine from a shop. We see that we have gone back to the 50’s as the boy pays for the magazine at a till from the shopkeeper’s viewpoint as the till clings. For the first time we hear a voice which is a voiceover of a man saying ‘I was 12 going on 13 the first time I saw a dead body’. The boy walks out of the shop and into a small, American town, called Castlerock, 1950’s street.
In the street there are old bona fide cars, fashion is old fashion and we are lead to believe that the boy in the shop is the same man in the jeep. The song ‘Rockin Robin’ adds to the ambiance as it shows the setting as somewhere in the late 50’s. The boy walks over a scrubland to a treehouse where we are introduced to all the main character and we detect the film’s plot which is a journey to find a dead body by the railway lines. When the boy who wee now know as Gordie enters the treehouse, we see two other characters; Chris and Teddy smoking and playing cards.
This indicates already that the boys are growing up ad moving unto adulthood. Next I will be taking a closer look at scene 3 which is the train scene. The train scene reflects each of the boys’ characters. During the stressful situation each boy reverts to type and their personalities and relationships with each other are in substantiation. As the boys move towards the railways we hear the song ‘Everyday’ because it’s getting closer to adulthood for the boys and they are getting closer to finding the body. The boys reach the bridge and they stop.
The third scene
Now we get a medium close-up shot of the boys as the camera pans out. Teddy and Chris set off with buoyancy, Vern crawls and Gordie right behind him checking for vibrations. At this point we get to know more about what each character is like as they all cross the railway in different ways. We then see a very long shot of the boys with the digetic sounds of birds. The significance of this is that it shows the danger of crossing the railway and that the train can come at any time. Vern drops his comb and we see how far down and deep the water is from where the boys are.
The director films its descent through the slats, as if we too are lying on the wood of the railway line. The train comes and you can hear the crescendo of noise as the train hurtles up behind them with the horns blowing and chimney chuffing. Chris and Teddy run, Gordie drags Vern up, he falls, Vern drags him up again, they run with the train right behind them and by now there is a lot of deception and suspense. Vern and Gordie jump, we don’t know if they are in the river, if they will survive, humour and relief as Chris and Teddy look over the edge to see them lying in a fog of dust on the bank.
The fourth scene
I will now be looking into more detail for scene 4, the long goodbye. The boys walk along the river bank as we get a medium long-shot of them walking home. They walk home, silhouetted against the sky, each a distance from each other. They reach the High Road in Castle Rock and part, one by one. The voiceover tells us what becomes of each of them. It is the end of an era; an end of childhood innocence. Soon they will go to High School and will never be as close again, even Chris and Gordie. This is reflected in the way they walk out the sunset, spaced out.
The perspective of the High Road in Castle Rock is reminiscent of the perspective of the railway line. The railway lines over the river show how they will cope with life, the high road represents the life ahead of them. They ‘cross each other’s path’, conceivably for the last time, as Vern and Teddy go home. Another echo from the film’s start is that Vern bends to pick up a penny as he leaves. Chris and Gordie touch palms, but it is also a reverberation of youth and almost done ironically, mockingly.
As Chris walks away he disappears as the voice of Gordie, the man, tells us that he was killed while trying to help someone else, just as he could have been killed while pulling Teddy of the railway tracks. This is a parallel. The sad strains of a flute playing ‘Stand by Me’ accompany the voiceover. A parallel with the start of the film as it is the same version. The story ends where it started, with Gordie as a grown man. The director’s skills has enhanced a story of nostalgia and ensured that the boys’ journey from boyhood to manhood is persuasive, sensitive and moving.