Have you seen it? Have I seen what? These, and other variations, are the not-so-funny jokes circulating the screen adaptation remake of Stephen King’s IT. The culture behind the book and films has been wide spread even before the latest release, causing fans to do eccentric things like: dress up as Pennywise The Clown on Halloween, handing out candy from inside the storm drain; or Tying balloons to mailboxes around the neighborhood.
The children of the 80’s seem to be bringing back this picture esque time into popular culture with the creation of motion pictures that reflect the era in a healthy way. Productions like Netflix’s Stranger Things have children growing up in and around the classic small town scenes of the 80s. In a time when kids had no cell phones, and playing baseball meant having a bat in your hand while standing in a park, instead of a video-game controller in your hand and the park is on a screen in your living room.
In IT the town of Derry Maine, although a fictional one, is a town that represents the nostalgia of that perfect childhood. The film reminds us of our childhood days where priorities were getting through school and into the summer or saving up for a pack of baseball cards, a comic, or a simple soda pop. Regardless of what people think of the film, most can’t help but be attracted to the setting of Derry. This relatability is what makes the presence of evil, interrupting everyday life, horrifying.
The town itself is based on the town of Bangor, Maine. Stephen King stated to the Bangor Daily News that, “I wanted Bangor because it was a tougher, harder place, with its history of loggers, the thing about the Brady Gang shoot-out, and all those fightin’ bars like the Silver Dollar that used to be down at the waterfront,” details specific to the book. He concluded with the fact that, “the geography seemed right. So we moved to Bangor, where we’ve been ever since. It was good for the book and good for us.”
Thanks to director Andy Muschietti, IT is more than just a throwback to the 80s, it represents the 80’s with its story and characters to create its aesthetic. Other recent motion pictures have given it’s characters references to the 80’s more as a reminder to audiences opposed to just existing as an 80’s film.
Stranger Things forces this point with little things such as a poster of The Thing in Mike Wheeler’s house. While Easter eggs are fun and it wouldn’t be out of character for Mike to like the film, it doesn’t help the plot and actually raises the question of inaccuracy.
The Thing failed in box offices when it first came out due to audiences not being ready for its graphic nature, and only became a well known film years later when fans of John Carpenter made The Thing a cult classic. To make matters worse, it was competing with E.T. in the box offices. It’s for this reason that Carpenter dislikes the film due to it almost ending his career. Additionally, The likelihood of Mike having a poster for the film is low since the film wasn’t around in theaters for very long. But I digress.
Andy Muschietti created a world familiar to today’s young at heart and captured picture esque moments from that time with the dialog, character development moments, and setting. At no time are the characters forced to form to the time with slapped on reminders that this is an 80’s film. We can just feel it the whole time.
The town of Bangor, Maine can be visited by fans who wish to explore the scenes of its dark history. Time brought several dark events through the town, but the real horror was brought there by Stephen King.