Tuesday, January 10, 2012

FORREST GUMP


(July 1994, U.S.)

It's almost uncanny how we all fell in love with FORREST GUMP nearly two decades ago, although the story of the world seen through the eyes of a mere simpleton was not exectly new on the screen. Peter Sellers had done it fifteen years prior in BEING THERE (1979) and it was one of the best roles of his career. In Robert Zemeckis' film, though, the story depicts several decades in the life of Forrest Gump (played by the great Tom Hanks), a naive and slow-witted native of Alabama who witnesses, and in some cases influences, some of the defining events of the latter half of the 20th century. Intruiging, as well, are the extensive visual effects that were used to incorporate Hanks' character into actual archived historical footage and with actual historical figueres in order to develop scenes further. Take a look at a sample...



(Oh, yeah, and there was that whole box of chocolates thing).

Forrest Gump is, indeed, not a smart man. But this film shows that even the dumbest of people can have the simplest philosophies that will sustain them through their lives. In Forrest's case, his simplicity lies in that he always listens to his mama (played by Sally Field), he loves only his Jenny (played by Robin Wright), he maintains a neverending loyalty to his best friends Lt. Dan Daylor and "Bubba" (Gary Sinise and Mykelti Williamson) and he runs great distances to find his own personal meaning and purposes. I suppose if you're a true optimist of life (which I'm NOT!), that may be all you need to get by.

Regarding Forrest's love and loyalty to Jenny, while incredibly admirable, there are times when watching the film where I consider Forrest an absolute schmuck in that regard. After all, Jenny treats him like dirt and abandons him more than once in the film. Who would continue to love a girl like that?? Apparantly, only Forrest Gump would. It can be justified that it all pays off in the end as he finally wins her heart and becomes the father of the child she bore him (unknownst to him for years). And it's the child that ultimately becomes Forrest's destiny. Because, according to this film, no matter what we've done or where we've been in our lives, nothing is more important or rewarding than the joy of fatherhood. I suppose there's no argument in that.

There's one particular scene that has always stayed with me since first seeing this film. After Jenny has died and Forrest has walked away from her headstone, he sees a flock of birds flying overhead, symbolic of how when Forrest and Jenny were children she prayed to be turned into a bird so she could "fly far, far away" from her troubled life. Yes, symbolism can be very corny, but it can also touch the heart if you let it.

FORREST GUMP won the Oscar for best picture of 1994. And as much as I love the film, and will continue to love it, I've always believed that PULP FICTION is the film that SHOULD have won. Oh, well.

Favorite line or dialogue:

Forrest Gump: "Will you marry me? I'd make a good husband?"
Jenny Curran: "You would, Forrest."
Forrest: "But you won't marry me."
Jenny: "You don't wanna marry me."
Forrest: "Why don't you love me, Jenny? I'm not a smart man...but I know what lovie is."

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