A FILM STUDY OF
The movie Forrest Gump is a drama with comical aspects. It was directed by Robert Zemeckis and released in the United States on July 6, 1994. It is about a man facing many challenges in his life. The story of his life spans from 1951-1984, based on various historical references throughout the movie, and it takes place in different cities in America and in Vietnam.
Forrest Gump, is the main character in the movie and is played by Tom Hanks. Other important characters include his girlfriend, Jenny Curran (played by Robin Wright), his mother, Mrs. Gump (played by Sally Field), Lieutenant Dan and Bubba.
The movie begins with Forrest sitting at a bus stop telling his life story to a stranger. As a child, Forrest is diagnosed with a mental impairment and has a below average IQ of 75. He is bullied by the other children. He meets the love of his life, Jenny Curran, and she is his only real friend while he is in school. Even though Forrest is “slow”, he is a loving and kind person and tries to protect the people he cares about, especially Jenny.
Through the use of visual effects, Forrest meets many famous people and is involved in many historical events.
After high school, because of his ability to run very fast, he enrolls at the University of Alabama on a football scholarship. Two important historical moments happen during this time in his life. He becomes an All American and meets President John F. Kennedy. Also, during that period of time, he witnessed George Wallace’s attempt to prevent integration at the University of Alabama.
Next, he enlists in the United States Army, where he meets Bubba and Lieutenant Dan. He and Bubba become very close friends. Forrest admires Bubba and his knowledge of everything about the shrimp business. They make a deal to one day start their own shrimp business. In 1967, Forrest and Bubba are sent to Vietnam where their platoon is ambushed. Forrest is shot in the buttocks, but he is able to rescue many of the men in his unit. However, Bubba is fatally wounded and dies. Lieutenant Dan is the platoon’s commanding officer and is seriously wounded, losing both of his legs. Forrest saves his life, but he is angry at Forrest for saving him and says that he would have rather died honorably on the battlefield than to live his life as a cripple. For his bravery, Forrest is awarded the Medal of Honor by President Lyndon B. Johnson. While in Washington, Forrest becomes involved in an anti-war rally and is reunited with Jenny again. They spend some time together, but once again Jenny leaves Forrest, this time with her abusive boyfriend.
While Forrest is in the hospital recovering from his injuries, he starts playing ping pong and discovers that he is a very good player. So good that he becomes a member of the U.S. Army team and competes against Chinese teams on a tour known as Ping Pong Diplomacy. This achievement earns Forrest another trip to Washington where he meets President Richard M. Nixon. Ironically, President Nixon provides Forrest with a room at the Watergate Hotel. While staying there, Forrest witnesses a burglary and calls security, and his actions appear to expose the Watergate scandal.
Later, Forrest is invited to be a guest on the Dick Cavett Show in New York City. While there, Forrest meets John Lennon and inspires him to write the song “Imagine”. As he is leaving, Forrest runs into Lieutenant Dan, who has become a drunk living on welfare. Forrest tries to befriend him but Lieutenant Dan is still angry at him. Jokingly, Lieutenant Dan tells Forrest that if he ever becomes a shrimp boat captain, he will be his first mate.
After Forrest is discharged from the Army, he uses money he received from an endorsement for ping pong paddles to buy a shrimping boat and starts a business known as “Bubba Gump Shrimp Company”, in honor of his friend, Bubba. Lieutenant Dan joins the company and becomes his first mate. They are not very successful in the business until Hurricane Carmen hits and amazingly, their boat is the only one to survive. Business becomes very lucrative. Forrest buys a fleet of shrimping boats. Forrest donates money to a local church and gives some of the profits to Bubba’s family. Forrest returns to Alabama. He leaves the company in the hands of Lieutenant Dan, who invests a portion of their business profits in shares of the company, Apple, earning them even more money.
Forrest decided to return home because his mother had fallen ill and she dies soon. Jenny returns there to visit him. Forrest proposes to her, but she turns him down, and after making love to him, she leaves him again. This leads to Forrest beginning his three years-two months-fourteen days and sixteen hours-run across America, just because he feels like it.
At this point in his story, Forrest tells the lady sitting beside him that he received a letter from Jenny asking him to come visit her. The lady tells Forrest that he does not need to take the bus and that he can walk to where she lives. Forrest takes off running to see Jenny. When Forrest sees Jenny, he finds out that he is the father to her son, Forrest, Jr. Jenny proposes to him and they get married. Shortly thereafter, Jenny dies. The movie ends with Forrest putting his son on the school bus and Forrest sitting at the same place as his mother did watching the bus drive away.
The theme to the movie is not to give up on life. It is about managing obstacles and facing challenges. Forrest is a simple man. His innocence and honesty is refreshing.
This movie is filled with historical events and famous people. Forrest meeting famous people was dramatized by using special effects to place Forrest in each setting. The historical events during each time period are portrayed accurately. The voices of the famous people appear to be real. The music reflects the time period during each scene in the movie.
This was a first class movie and was the top grossing film in North America in 1994. It was the recipient of many awards and nominations, including Academy Awards, Golden Globe Awards, People’s Choice Awards and Young Artist Awards. In 1996, a themed restaurant opened based on the film and has since expanded to multiple locations worldwide.
I really enjoyed this movie for several reasons. It is an inspiring story of a young man facing many challenges and learning to overcome them or in the alternative how to deal with them. The movie is comical, yet it is not a comedy. There are times that the movie can bring you to tears. It is probably unrealistic to believe that any one person could receive so much recognition during his lifetime and be in the center of so many historical events, but each event is portrayed realistically. How many people ever meet the President of the United States, much less meet three of them?! I also enjoyed the fact that the movie’s primary setting is set in the State of Alabama and the main character, Forrest Gump, speaks with a southern accent.