Anyone familiar with my earlier videos, may be aware of my fondness for John Hughes and in particular the series of films that compose his core body of work dedicated to teenagehood. Sixteen Candles, Weird Science, The Breakfast Club and Ferris Bueller's Day-Off. And to a certain extent "She's having a baby" which is a clear farewell to his previous films and an insight to John Hughes personal transition to adulthood. He was a talented writer and, to my own judgment, a brilliant director. Many thought his directing skills were not up to it but I could not agree less.
"Pretty in Pink" or "Some kind of Wonderful", which were (written and) produced by Hughes, lacked the directorial vision and the humor of John Hughes. Something was obviously missing in these films.
I saw "Ferris Bueller's day off" (dubbed /La Folle Journée de Ferris Bueller) in a French cinema in the eighties and I will never forget the experience. I was alone in the cinema and the print showed serious signs of use. It was in 1987 and I was studying in a boarding school in the south of France. I spent most of my time in the cinemas watching all the teenage comedies that came out at that time and was always disappointed by (most of) them. I felt as misunderstood as any teenager of my age and was looking for some kind of comfort in these movies and "Ferris Bueller" was probably the first film along with Risky Business that made me feel something and gave me some food for thought. It was so satisfying to see someone like Ferris trying to break away from the pressure and taking life with such an easy going attitude.
Breakfast Club was, and still is, a brilliant movie and it's probably John Hughes most interesting film. It is full of intricate subtextual themes that relate so well to most of the teenagers' concerns. This is how I saw it then and this how I see it now.
Sixteen Candles and Weird Science are also magnificent examples of John Hughes simplicity and complexity. Simple premises which turn out to be interesting human stories and great comedies.
Technically, It is important to underline that John Hughes (with some help form DOPs such as Tak Fujimoto) took great care of compositions and made very good use of Close Ups. The Museum sequence in Ferris Bueller showcase his love for static compositions. If the camera moves it will be to follow a character and he made very, very little use of tracking shots or cranes. The only one that I can recall is the shot of the ferrari leaving the school after Ferris picks up Sloane or Ferris running through the different houses at the end of the film.
His use of music was uncanny. Just look at the number of tracks included in Sixteen Candles, it's like the American Graffiti of the eighties. Kajagoogoo, Wham, Paul Young, Spandau Ballet, The Specials, Thomson Twins but also Patty Smith and Frank Sinatra. I discovered Zapp when I first saw Ferris Bueller and heard the song "On the Radio". There is so much to say about John Hughes and his relation to music.
Hughes understood cinema, understood stories, understood music and understood people. He was so talented. After "Planes Trains and Automobiles" (which I love), I believe he took a different path as a film maker and gave up on his previous achievements. He did the best you can ever do with the "teenage genre" and, in a way, he saved it. So I am really grateful we did not have any sequels to these films but we came close to disaster: just think of the Ferris Bueller short lived TV show (TERRIBLE) and the Weird Science series (SOOO DULL).