The first time I saw a dead body was, like the characters in Stand By Me, in the company of three friends. From the top of bales of hay stacked twenty feet high, Dan, Jacob, Joe and I saw a swarm of flies pestering the body of a sheep – its guts were hanging out. But for such a relatable story, Stand By Me falls a little short of my own childhood’s sense of adventure.
I read Stephen King’s novella, The Body, a few weeks ago. It took me back to the summers I spent living in a small village, with the same group of friends going on adventures day after day. “I never had friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve.”
Stand By Me misses the beats that the novella hit. I don’t see my own childhood friends in the characters. I don’t feel the gravity of their adolescent problems – the kind that you realise later are such minor things. I lived in a village, had friends much like those in Stand By Me. But the way their adventure felt pales compared to the memories of some of my own.
Maybe (probably) I’m critical of the movie because I loved the book. But my understanding of Stand By Me is that its objective was to remind me of those childhood adventures I thought I’d forgotten. I suppose it’s done that. But it’s my own memories making me fondly reminiscent – not my part in the adventures of Gordie, Chris, Teddy and Vern.