The sample essay on Vern Stand By Me deals with a framework of research-based facts, approaches, and arguments concerning this theme. To see the essay’s introduction, body paragraphs and conclusion, read on.
The film, “Stand By Me” shows the story of four young boys, Teddy, Gordy, Chris and Vern who go on a trip. The trip is to find the body of a boy who is their age who was hit by a train. The film takes place in the summer holidays between the end of junior school and the start of high school.
It is set in a small-town in Oregon in the 1950’s. The town is presented to us with the impressions of innocence yet it appears that the town is far from it. Children smoke and frequently swear, the complete opposite of the stereotypical view of the 1950’s.
The film looks to be set for young people varying in age from 12 to 16. Although if there was less or no swearing it would probably be fine for even younger viewers.
Another reason why the film is attractive for viewers is the fact that it has a mixture of comedy, drama and action.
The scene that I will be analysing is the “Bridge Scene”. This scene is a pivotal scene in the film as the bridge acts as a transition from childhood to teen life. It also shows the boys stop working as individuals and more as a “unit”. The scene shows how Vern and Gordy come very close to death.
Earlier in the film the boys had a close encounter and it seems that in a way they are attracted to it. Earlier the boys were in a scrap yard waiting for Gordy to return from the convenience store. When he left, the other boys Chris, Teddy and Vern, were talking and when Chris returned they had gone out side the scrap yard. Gordy had to run from the owner of the yard and his dog as they chased him to the gate of the yard. He only just made it out without getting caught. However, this seems like a minor scrape when compared to the pivotal bridge scene.
As the boys begin to approach the bridge an atmosphere of happy, innocent naivety is created. The popular 50’s hit “Lollypop” is playing and Vern and Teddy are singing along and dancing which makes the boys look very innocent. As they approach the bridge, the camera rises and the true size of it is revealed. As they start to cross the obstacle in front of them we get the impression that a train will arrive or something dangerous is going to happen.
The director has cleverly used a wide array of camera shots varying from Extreme Long Shots to Low Angle Shots. When the scene starts there are a mixture of shots including Long Shots, Mid-Shots and Two-Shots. The sequences are longer here giving the impression of a problem free atmosphere. When the boys reach the bridge the camera is at waist height of the boys and slowly tracks up to just above their head height. From a point on the top of the valley sides Extreme Long Shot are taken and each shot seems to make the bridge look bigger and bigger. It also makes the boys look smaller and smaller. There is also another purpose for these shots in that they show the turquoise water and the green of the trees and shrubbery of the valley.
When Vern drops the comb the director uses seemingly minor details to add to our sense of apprehension and his face is shown in a Close-Up, the camera then quickly changes to a shot through the eyes of Vern. As the comb falls the film is cleverly slowed down to make it seem like it is taking almost minutes to reach the water. This adds to the tension by showing if the worst came to the worst there would be no chance in jumping to the river below, as they would die.
The drama really begins to build up when an Extreme Long Shot shows the smoke of the train. This shot shows the train through the eyes of Gordy. A Close Up of Gordy is shown in slow motion showing him shouting “train” and warning the others. This is clever as it shows the fraught danger multiply by the inclusion of a large black steam train. Once the train is made obvious to the audience another Extreme Long Shot is shown showing Gordy and Vern, who were quite far behind Teddy and Chris, only half way across the bridge with the train getting closer and closer to them. The camera is tracking Vern and when he falls it stops with him. When Vern gets to his feet again the camera shows a Long Shot with him at the front and the train behind him. The train looks closer than it actually is by using this type of shot. The director keeps switching between the Extreme Long Shot and the Long Shot. This prepares the audience for a disastrous event in the near future. When Gordy dives on Vern moving him out of the way of the train a Medium Long Shot is shown showing the train speed past. It provides a moment of relief after the extreme tension.
Sound effects also play a part in creating the tension. In the wooded tunnel at the start of the scene the music of “Lollipop” is heard. As the boys turned the corner to the bridge music fades to silence. This adds the tension as the viewer has the impression that they don’t know what is about to happen. As we see the boys looking over the bridge we can hear the natural noises like the wind and the nature around them. As they continue again we can only hear the wind and the creaking of the bridge. As the train appears around the corner the peaceful, tranquil, natural noises are ended by the loud horn of the train warning the boys to get off the bridge. As the train is revealed we can hear the screams and shouts of the boys but mainly the horn, the whistle of the steam and the loud pistons of the train. The effect that this has on the audience is to create a sense of impending doom symbolised by the huge black train. The sound effects play a vital role and are almost executed perfectly. As in the lighting the sound effects are very natural apart from the “Lollypop” at the start of the scene.
The lighting in this scene appears very natural. There is only really one moment when additional lighting is obvious. This is when Gordy shouts “train” and his whole face is lit up and looks very pale. If he shouted this and there was no additional lighting there would be shadows around the eyes, below the nose and below the lips. When the boys are in the in the tree lined “tunnel” there are natural shadows. The natural light is also on show as the boys cross the bridge. As the train is behind the boys there is additional use of shadows on the boys to reinforce the image of black.
Even colour plays a part in creating atmosphere. The colours in this scene cleverly mix between the natural colours and the black of the train. Around and before the bridge there is the brown of the bark and the green of the beautiful healthy looking leaves, plants and other shrubbery. On the bridge the natural look continues with the green and turquoise looking water. The metal, modern for the time, looking bridge blends in well with the landscape. As the train appears the natural beauty of the area begins to end. Usually trains billow white, cloud like “smoke” which is actually water vapour, yet in this scene the train appears to billow a dark shade of grey smoke which adds to the darkness of the train. The clothes that Vern and Gordy are wearing contrast the dark black of the impeding train. Again to add to the black of the scene the train looks to have been freshly painted black. This makes it look tougher and more “scary”. An accumulation of all these effects show near death in a better way than if the train was white for example.
The director has shown great use of creating tension on the bridge scene. The main part of this scene is when the train is following Vern and Gordy. He or she does this well by filling the whole screen with the black. I think that the scene is very well put together and good usage of natural light and colours are used. Although it is not that noticeable if you are not specifically looking at this one scene. Yet if the director didn’t use natural effects it probably would be noticeable.