For as long as I can remember films have always been a part of my life, from the earliest of ages I was engaged in watching films and getting taken away on many adventures. Films have always meant more to me than just a form of entertainment, they have provided me with hours upon hours of escape, therapy, inspiration and joy. Some films have naturally had a bigger impact on me than others, for different reasons. This series is going to explore the films that not only changed me, but saved me. Perhaps to some that may sound ludicrous, but to me I am thankful for everything that these films have done for me.
STAND BY ME is the film I consider to be my favourite of all time, and easily one of the best films ever made. The film was actually based upon the Stephen King novella THE BODY, which was a part of the book DIFFERENT SEASONS (which also includes RITA HAYWORTH AND THE SHAWKSHANK REDEMPTION and THE APT PUPIL). The adaptation of the novella is extraordinary, not only was the coming of age story completely realised but it surpassed what King had written. The man even agrees that the film is something special, it tapped into something more and captures the essence of what it is like to be 12, which is universal no matter what decade you’re in at that age.
I can’t remember exactly how old I was when I first saw the film, too young to have seen it though. I would guess maybe around 7, as my parents had the VHS and would watch it from time to time. As I discovered the film, at the time it was all about the kids going on an adventure and causing trouble, hearing them swear and smoke was quite rebellious too. It was a fun film, and as I grew older I would watch it almost every weekend along with STAR WARS and INDIANA JONES. At that young age I didn’t quite understand everything about the film, but that didn’t bother me. But as the years went on and I got to be 12 years old, the age of the kids in the film things started to change.
One day it clicked to me that I really related to the character of Gordie played by Wil Wheaton, like me he was a writer, he wrote stories and wanted to be a writer. Without realising it until that age I too would always write stories and thought perhaps I could grow up to be a writer, he was me. The revelation was something that almost took me by surprise, I could see myself in a character and the film became so much more to me. Listening to the things Gordie said and the things he was feeling, I was feeling those things too. I had a friend that my parents didn’t approve of, and despite their warnings I still stayed loyal to that friend. We got up to similar trouble that these boys got into, no we didn’t go looking for a dead body but we had our delinquent moments. The film was mirroring my life, and it was quite extraordinary for me.
As I went through one of the most difficult times in my life, I had this film, the film that could have almost been my story. Watching the film would let me escape my life, even though it had the similarities to my own life, it was still an escape. Transitioning to High School was not easy, I was bullied out of a school in weeks and I was suffering extreme depression and I was suicidal. What got me through all of this was STAND BY ME, it was the one thing I could turn to that would let me forget everything. Gordie over come so much and he was the light at the end of the tunnel, if he could get through the tough times I could as well. When things seemed at their worst, I could watch Gordie and feel that connection, he stood up to the bullies and learned so much about himself.
I was learning about myself too, that I was stronger than I thought, that people come and go in your life and you take something away from the experience. The film has a quote “I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?” and when I had those friends at that age, I wondered whether it was true. It wasn’t long after when I lost contact with the rebellious friend and some of the others I had, that yes that quote is true. I was sad that I no longer had these friends, but I had experiences that no one could ever take away from me. Whether the times were good or bad, I had learned something from it, and this is something I fully realised through this film and seeing Gordie experience it.
It was not easy for me during this time in my life, and I felt like things may never get any better. But STAND BY ME was what gave me hope, watching the film was my therapy through all of this. I truly believe if this film wasn’t a part of my life, I wouldn’t be here today. I wouldn’t have had the courage to write, to do the thing that really gives me purpose and meaning. I wouldn’t have had the courage to go on with life and make new friends and experiences. This film saved me, in so many ways. It really is a part of me, and now when I watch the film I am filled with so much emotion I can’t quite handle it. I cry a lot and I remember everything I’ve been through, each scene reminds me of something and at times it can be too much. I can’t watch the film as often as I did when I was younger, but it will always be a part of me. The Marcey I am today would no exist without STAND BY ME, I owe my life to this film. It saved my life in so many ways, I’ll forever be thankful that I discovered it.