John Hughes died suddenly yesterday of a heart attack. Hughes was a filmmaker whose heyday was in the 1980’s. His credits include “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” “The Breakfast Club,” “Sixteen Candles,” “Home Alone,” and many more.
I don’t know anything about John Hughes personally. All I know are his movies because they were quintessential expressions of popular culture in the 1980’s. I wouldn’t say that his movies defined a generation so much as they reflected it. And that was his genius. Somehow this guy made movies that rang true with young people. Ben Stein (who had a famous bit part in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”) said this about Hughes:
“It’s incredibly sad. He was a wonderful man, a genius, a poet. I don’t think anyone has come close to him as being the poet of the youth of America in the postwar period. He was to them what Shakespeare was to the Elizabethan Age.”
This is consistent with what Steve Martin said today in his reflections about Hughes:
“John Hughes was a great director, but his gift was in screenwriting. He created deep and complex characters, rich in humanity and humor.”
It is amazing how powerful a storyteller can be when he is able to weave a narrative that rings true with or makes sense of our own stories. For me, it’s a reminder of how much people need to hear the one story that makes sense of all of our lives.