Sunday, 16 August 2009

John Hughes: On the passing of a hero

I'm still in some shock from the death of John Hughes. As some of you will know, I've been in the middle off writing a series of pieces on his much loved brat pack fims of the 1980s, and news of his passing came through just as I was going to do the Weird Science article.

Everything has changed now- references to Hughes will have to be in the past tense, and now we know he'll never revisiot Shermer, Illinois. I wrote an article on his passing for another outlet, which was then published on Ezinearticles. That piece is reproduced here.


John Hughes - A Tribute to the Late Director of the Breakfast Club
By Andrew Hawnt

The death of John Hughes has hit me hard. While most celebrity deaths don't really hit home that much with me, the news of John Hughes dying from a heart attack while out walking in New York has had a profound effect on me. This man was the force behind the films that helped shape me as a person.

The pathos and integrity behind the laughs of films such as The Breakfast Club, Pretty in Pink, Some Kind of Wonderful and all of the others of his main active period remains as powerful as it ever was, and with his passing we have lost a true great of the cinema.

The reclusive genius had also created other things such as the massively popular Home Alone movies, but it is that spate of brat pack classics that he will probably be most remembered for, and those films are a legacy that anyone would be proud of.

A generation of film fans and filmmakers were created by those films, each of them containing a magic that teen movies have never been able to recapture since then, no matter how hard they try.

Look at Ferris Bueller's Day Off for example. Yes, it was anarchic in the extreme, but the characters of Ferris, Cameron and Sloane rang true as teenagers of the time, struggling to find their place in a changing world.

Thinking that the man that brought us those five misfits The Breakfast Club, Duckie from Pretty in Pink, Ferris Bueller and all of those other classic characters from Sixteen Candles, Weird Science and so on is gone is heartbreaking.

Many fans were hoping that he would return to his roots and create something meaningful and beautiful, like those early films, instead of the string of Beethoven sequels and the like. Sadly this wasn't to be. There have long since been rumours of a Breakfast Club sequel, but nothing emerged.

Even the less successful films of that amazing period in his career, such as Some Kind of Wonderful, which starred Eric Stoltz, Lea Thompson and Mary Stuart Masterson back in 1987, have a hell of an impact on the viewer. This is thanks to their accurate portrayal of the difficulties people face when trying to find out who they are as people during the latter years of teenage life.

While the Home Alone movies, Baby's Day Out, Beethoven and others in his later work don't have the critical acclaim of his early films, they still go to show the influence and success of his career.

Here was a director and writer who remembered what it was like to be a teenager right down to the most minute of details, and he brought that understanding to every character. Even in the madcap chaos of Sixteen Candles, the first of his brat pack sequence, the characters come across as people in their own right, with real concerns.

There is often talk of directors who define a generation of cinema, and with the films of John Hughes it is an apt description. He captured a certain period, a certain mindset and generation with perfect clarity, and the stories have proven to be timeless enough to be appreciated again and again, no matter the trends.

It is always sad when someone dies, but when their body of work was so respected and adored, it breaks the heart. Here was a man who had little controversy in his life, and after his massive 80s fame drew back from the limelight and became something of an urban legend.

He continued to work, but he never returned to what he did best, which was making people think and making people realize that life wasn't quite as clean-cut as your parents may have you believe.

Here's to you, John. You were, and remain, my hero. You got me through my troubled teenage years with those films and those characters, as you did for millions of other people. I would imagine a lot of other people are feeling the same right now. Rest in peace.


Andrew is a widely read pop culture blogger and nationally published music journalist with a passion for bringing you the latest news and opinions on, movies, TV, collectibles and popular culture in all its forms.

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