Forrest Gump: The Story of a Lifetime (1994)

Posted: March 3, 2012 in Comedy, Drama, Romance

As a young boy in Alabama, Forrest Gump had a rough start to his life. Diagnosed with a decreased IQ, fitted with braces on his legs and growing up without a father, Forrest meets a young girl named Jenny who changes his life forever. While his story starts during some rough times, good fortune and opportunity seem to follow him. While getting taunted one day after school and chased by the local bullies, his attempt to run with the braces shatters them into a thousand pieces. From then on, he continues to explore the world in ways that few got to experience. Forrest becomes a football star, army soldier, ping-pong champion, shrimp boat captain, transnational runner and eventually a family man.

Starring: Tom Hanks/Michael Connor Humphreys (Forrest Gump), Robin Wright/Hanna Hall (Jenny Curran), Sally Field (Mrs. Gump), Margo Moorer (Lousie), Mykelti Williamson (Bubba Blue), Gary Sinise (Lt. Dan Taylor), Aaron Izbicki (Dallas), Michael Burgess (Cleveland), Steven Griffith (Tex), Richard D’Alessandro (Abbie Hoffman), Geoffrey Blake (Wesley), Haley Joel Osment (Forrest Junior)

As one of the most iconic films of the 1990s, Forrest Gump heralded two extremely successful actors and made the careers of a handful of others. Tom Hanks has performed in a number of memorable roles but none of them equate to the performance as Forrest Gump. Giving the character a sense of simplicity, Hanks is able to not only make Forrest stand out but show a slow progression through his emotional development. His earlier years certainly lacked an understanding of the depth of emotions, but his love for Jenny and the arrival of his son propel him to levels thought unreachable based on his experiences. Just as compelling was Sally Field as Mrs. Gump. She has a true motherly personality and strength of character to support her young son through his tough childhood. She also served as a perfect foundation for Forrest to return to at various stages of his life. Jenny Curran, played by Robin Wright, was the seemingly unattainable love of Forrest’s life. She grew up in her own difficult ways different from Forrest, which leads to the unstable set of experiences during her intersections with Forrest.  Gary Sinise is certainly memorable as Lieutenant Dan, particularly with his rough demeanor and quirky recklessness. Just as memorable was Mykelti Williamson as Bubba Blue, the inspiration who supported Forrest during the war and his shrimp boat captain periods. Rounding out the significant characters in the film was young Forrest, played by Haley Joel Osment.

Robert Zemeckis put together one of the most significant movies in film history with his exploration of significant events through the eyes and experiences of a simple man from Alabama. Forrest’s troubles as a child may not have had the same significance for him due to his inability to recognize the amazing nature of impact, but the one thing that stuck with him was his care for his childhood friend, Jenny. When she was abused as a child by her father, Forrest was the only one she trusted to take care of her. Even though they parted ways during college, his visit to school continued his love for her but did not appear as significant to Jenny’s story at the time. It was not until they were much older and after Jenny was able to experience a number of rebellious moments that she finally appreciated the devotion he maintained for her throughout his life. Though she denied his first request to marry him, their moment of passion eventually led to their son, who Forrest did not meet for several more years. Jenny eventually falls ill and sees no one better than Forrest to take care of her in her last moments and be the one to take care of their son. The love story aspect of this film truly is woven throughout the film to take the numerous, disconnected experiences and make meaning of Forrest’s journey through life.

While the love story is fairly easy to follow and a truly significant element of the film (she loves him, she wants something else, she realizes what’s important), the experiences throughout Forrest’s life are what makes the film special. No one ordinary man can ever say that he has experienced as many significant moments as Forrest and had as significant a role on American history. While the football and war elements were important moments for Forrest and those he played/served with, he left a mark on so many people with his random generosity. When Forrest wipes his face on the t-shirt, he creates the smiley face symbol. Forrest gives his earnings from the shrimping business to Lt. Dan to invest, which he places into Apple Computers, both supporting the company and creating financial security for Forrest for the rest of his life. When Forrest was staying in the Watergate Hotel, he inadvertently blows the lid off the illegal activities. The actions of Forrest are very cleverly portrayed in a way that makes them seamless in comparison to the true history.

Truly one of the greatest films of all time, Forrest Gump can also be considered one of the most complete films with its combination of action, comedy and drama depicting the seemingly unnatural but amazing moments of a simple man’s life.

Dan’s Rating: 5.0/5


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