Stand By Me: A Different Type of Nostalgia

There are few scenes in film history that I think can impact someone on a much deeper level. And after watching “that” scene from Euphoria it reminded me of one of them. No.. this article is not about Euphoria. It is about one of my favourite films, Stand By Me.

So after watching that super super super romantic scene it reminded me how amazing this film truly is and that I should definitely rewatch it. And guess what, I did – for probably the fourth time in my life.  This movie just isn’t talked about enough. At a glance, stand by me could be viewed as a kid’s film. Sure, it has an ensemble of children and some kid humour, but I would never classify this movie as a children’s film. Its just to sad. And not sad in your Marley and Me sense or the NoteBook. It’s different. Let me explain.

How the Characters are Written

The film has four main characters, Chris, Gordie, Vern and Teddy. What is so clever about these four boys is how they echo their parents. Chris comes from a family of thieves and is constantly battling with the path he wants to follow. Teddy’s father is an abusive WW1 veteran which bleeds onto Teddy who has similar chaotic patterns and an obsession with war. And finally, Gordie. Gordie is dealing with the neglect of his parents after the death of his older brother. Now these are all instantly horrible things to be dealing with, but it’s how screenwriters Raynold Gideon and Bruce Evans address it. The three boys don’t really talk about. Occasionally, we see Gordie and Chris break down but nothing more. Exactly as a kid would, they simply keep it to themselves. These characters bury their deep rooted issues. And sure, at a glance it seems like there is a complete character arc but truthfully, I don’t think they ever overcome these problems. That’s what’s so bitter. They are trapped in the shells of their parents. Gordie is still obsessed over his brother’s death; Teddy ends up doing time for chaotic behaviour and Chris? Well Chris does overcome his deep-rooted issues. He is the only one. And what happens to him? He is rewarded by being murdered for doing the right thing. No one gets a happy ending.


What is perhaps most depressing about this film is its relatability. The way the boys interact, their demeanour and the adventure at hand, it all just feels so real. Everyone has experienced that same banter you have when your 12 or doing stupid shit you definitely shouldn’t be doing. Thereby, we are instantly linked with these characters. It is a realistic nostalgia. A not so good example of this is Stranger Things. Every season, they seem to cram more and more nostalgic shit down your throat. They create this unrealistic view of the 80s where everyone wore the same clothes and talked about Ghostbusters all day. Stand By Me is different. It makes the audience nostalgic for childhood, not the physical objects or time period. Essentially, it is a longing to have the same shared optimism you have when you’re a child. Nostalgic for an emotion, not objects – something much more powerful.

The Ending

Rob Reiner now has you exactly where he wants you. You are linked with these characters whether you realise it or not. When this final scene starts rolling it is a punch in the gut. As the gang all say goodbye to each other and Gordie explains how Chris died we understand what this film is all about. Saying goodbye to childhood. It is so brutal because everyone has been in that same situation before. The last time you ever go out to play together. And most of the time, you don’t even realise it. But what is so sad, and not talked about enough, is something so simple. The Title. Rob Reiner purposefully changed the name from the Body to Stand By Me after Ben E King’s amazing song. But the boys don’t stand by each other. In the end, they go their separate ways into adulthood. It is dramatic irony in the most perfect sense. And exactly what happens to all of us.

Maybe it’s just me but Stand By Me evokes a new kind of emotion. Not necessarily a sadness for the past but instead a longing for that optimism and wide-eyed attitude you had as a kid. Now I know I’m only 19 and sound like a knob saying this, but for me, Stand By Me is the quintessential nostalgic movie.

Leave a Reply