Block Telesales Calls NOW
Receive no more
Quite simply, this is the one against which all future DVD releases of River's work will have to beat. This special edition version of Stand By Me is crammed full of extra bonus materials and the whole presentation is done in a very professional manner. At least that is, if you live in DVD region 1. Viewers in regions 2 and 4 get somewhat short-changed and lose out on some nice touches - the main menu for example is pleasantly animated and features a charming background sound loop of the four boys running over the train trestle, but only on the region 1 release. The chapter selection screens are also a delight and each chapter is presented with a moving image - beautifully done, but again, only on the region 1 disc.
Furthermore, as is often the case, Region 4 viewers miss out on the chapter selection sheet, a significant omission in this case as along with the list of chapters, the booklet in the Stand By Me Special Edition is generously illustrated with photos and talks at length about Stephen King's novella The Body and the history of the movie.
The extra DVD bonus items are the same across all regions, except that the region 1 release includes, for no apparent reason, trailers for the movies The Karate Kid and Fly Away Home. Ben E. King's rare Stand By Me music video from 1986 is included and there are comprehensive pages with cast and crew biographies.
Exclusive to this DVD release, is a documentary entitled "Walking the Tracks: The Summer of Stand By Me" and this item is more than worth the cost of the DVD alone. Those interviewed include Stephen King, Rob Reiner, Kiefer Sutherland, Richard Dreyfuss and the three surviving main cast members Wil Wheaton, Corey Feldman and Jerry O'Connell. Towards the end of the program, the footage slows down, fades to black and white and everyone talks about River's passing. It's quite impossible to write about that section and accurately convey the depth of emotion being exhibited by those who knew him. It is simply a collection of scenes that have to be witnessed for one's self.
In addition to the foreign language audio tracks for the movie, and an unusual "music only" soundtrack, there is also a track that includes a commentary by director Rob Reiner recorded over it. Watching the movie whilst listening to this track is a fascinating undertaking and brings a whole new insight to the film. The cigarettes that were smoked in the tree-house, for example, were not real cigarettes and the windy scenes when the boys find the body of Ray Brower had to be achieved with wind machines and film assistants off camera shaking the trees. The director is more than happy to point out shots that used stunt doubles and which scenes contain bloopers that made it into the final cut. So, in what was his first movie, get ready to see Jerry O'Connell's radio-microphone transmitter fall out of his sock as he walks down the railroad tracks. "We always had trouble with Jerry O'Connell," recalls Reiner laughing. "He was always getting into scrapes during the film!"
By the end of the film though, the humor is replaced by poignancy when the boys say their good-byes to each other, and River's character ultimately fades slowly from the screen. By now, Reiner is having to repeatedly clear his throat and is quite obviously overcome with emotion. Much like the audience themselves in fact.
"You can see River Phoenix, even at this young age, had an amazing maturity about him. He had a lot of depth, a lot of wisdom and it's so sad what happened to him because he was a really enlightened soul in some ways, and in other ways he was just a kid who was confused. So it was a very, very sad thing that happened to him."- Rob Reiner