John Hughes, 1959 - 2009


Surely the greatest achievement a filmmaker can hope for is to be remembered, to speak to your audience directly so that even if the filmmaker fades away into obscurity, his or her films endure. It would be fair to say that writer and director John Hughes, who sadly passed away this week aged 59, did just that.

It’s hard to tell if our generation fully appreciates the effect Hughes had on shaping aspects of today’s cinema and the output of its directors. By casting real teenagers as appose to young adults, his movies gave a generation a voice and an image they could relate to. Hughes tapped into the minds of teenagers, their insecurities, loves, hopes and the pressures of growing up in the eight films he directed, whilst shaping the careers of his young stars in the process.

It was seemingly the job he was sent to do and in an interview just after the release of Home Alone he said, “When I’ve lost my voice, I’ll know when to go. I’ll disappear in a Puff” and that's exactly what he did. It was time for Hughes to buy the farm – literally - and at just 45 he settled down with his wife in his 600-acre rural retreat. Although he continued to write, often under the pseudonym Edmond Dant├Ęs (from The Count Of Monte Cristo), he never experienced the same success, but he had effected an entire generation in his wake and unwittingly passed the torch.

It’s hard to think where the teen film would be if John Hughes had stayed working as an advertising copywriter. Needless to say we wouldn’t have people like Judd Apatow making the films he’s making today, as he explains, “It’s pretty ridiculous to hear people talk about the movies we’ve been doing, with outrageous humour and sweetness all combined, as if they were an original idea. I mean, it was all there first in John Hughes films. Whether it’s Freaks and Geeks or Superbad, the whole idea of having outsiders as the lead characters, that all started with Hughes”. An opinion echoed by a filmmaker and fan that regularly references John Hughes in his work, Kevin Smith, “If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t be doing what I do. Basically my stuff is just John Hughes films with four letter words”

‘Don’t you forget about me’ a nod to the music that was as big a part of his films as his young stars, acts as a subtle reminder that while Hughes may be gone, the spirit of his work lives on.

No comments: