It was announced today that John Hughes, the director behind such classic comedies as Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and The Breakfast Club, has passed away due to a heart attack.
I am going to be honest and give away far more about myself than I perhaps care too; I am too young to remember any John Hughes directed film playing in movie theaters. The people who grew up in the 1980s consider them the creme de la creme of cinema from the time period. It may resonate in that way, but I wouldn’t know. That was, sadly enough, before my time.
Despite this lack of any real connection, I still look fondly upon those films with great nostalgia. Those were the films (along with The Blues Brother) that seemed to be always playing. I would constantly watch them in pieces, trying to assimilate the full film in my mind. It was quite a different way to watch them. And I laughed (particularly at Ben Stein’s now legendary cameo in Bueller) but my child mind still considered them lighthearted fare.
As I grew up, I realized there was much more to them. They treated their adolescent characters like people. That was completely against the mainstream of the time, where the characters were given the backseat to the various bodily functions they demonstrated. But each of the teens in Hughes’ universe were obsessed with what every teen is obsessed with. They all have hopes for the future. They all want to belong. They all want to love and be loved. They act like real teens. At least, like the teens I met. Maybe that’s why his films were revived and are now the closest thing to midnight movies currently playing. There is a universal truth in all of them that transcends the time period that they were made in.
Despite his accomplishments, Hughes has been absent for the last decade and a half. No one really knows what happened. Maybe the fact that his last film (or the last film he directed, anyway) was so maligned by critics that he felt his time as a filmmaker had come and gone. Maybe he was more comfortable as a (immensely successful) screenwriter. Or maybe he just tired of directing. I don’ t know. It is not like John Hughes had anything left to do. He may not have been a filmmaker to ever win any awards. I highly doubt he will ever be on anyone’s “Top directors” list. But he has left behind true comedy classics and has influenced many. No one will ever be able to deny him his legacy.