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"Forrest Gump" Teaches Many Lessons, and Tom Hanks Earns Best Actor Oscar
Forrest Gump – 4 stars (excellent)
“Forrest Gump” begins with a feather being lifted by a breeze that brings it to the feet of Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks), who is sitting at a bus stop in Savannah, GA. Gump picks it up and puts it in the “Curious George” children’s book. He then begins to tell the story of his life to the first of several people waiting with him for the next bus.
Some people are great listeners and some aren’t, but make no mistake, Gump is a master storyteller. He is simple, unassuming, honest, not bright and full of integrity. For such a humble man, his story is almost unbelievable.
Forrest wears braces to walk as a child, escapes bullies who taunt him, makes a lifelong friendship with Jenny (Robin Wright Penn), meets Elvis Presley, meets three presidents – John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon and receives the Congressional Medal of Honor for his service in Vietnam, where he saves Lt. Dan (Gary Sinise) and loses his friend Private “Bubba” (Mykelti Williamson).
At an anti-war rally in Washington DC, he briefly reunites with Jenny, whose life is messed up after her search for fame and the hippie lifestyle. Forrest starts a ping pong craze and becomes a nationally known ping pong whistler, using the money he makes to start a very successful shrimp boat business with Lt. Dan, who invests his money in Apple stock and both become rich in the process.
He then inspires people to run, helps an entrepreneur create smiley stickers, and faces the loss of his mother (Sally Field), who tells him he must figure out his own destiny. Through it all, Jenny and love elude him. Forrest lived in a troubled time.
If you’re giddy just imagining all this, so am I. After seeing Forrest Gump for the first time, I appreciated the film’s merits, but I was amazed at how one person could accomplish so much and be around so many famous people. After watching Forrest Gump 3 more times I got over it and now I just praise it.
Eventually, Jenny sees Forrest running on TV and writes him a letter to visit her. When he does, he discovers that Jenny has a son and is very sick. She asks Forrest to marry her and dies soon after he does. She learns that he is the father of her child and vows to raise him. As young Forrest boards the bus for his first day of school, a white feather falls from the Curious George book he’s carrying, gets caught in the wind, and floats skyward.
If you’re wondering, the feather was real, but his performance in the movie was computer based. The feather is important because it raises the question of whether we all float randomly like the breeze, or do we actually each have our own destiny. Forrest believes it may be both.
Everything that happens to Forrest Gump is worth seeing, and much of what happens teaches us important lessons in life. This is a love story, a relationship story, and the story of one person in a very big world that is sometimes almost impossible to understand. All that is good and much of the bad is covered in the film.
To understand where Forrest Gump is coming from, learn from these memorable lines in the movie:
1) Lt. Daniel Taylor: “Have you found Jesus yet, Gump?” Forrest Gump: “I didn’t know to look for him, sir.”
2) Forrrest Gump: (describing Vietnam) “We always went for long walks and we always looked for a guy named Charlie.”
3) Jenny Curran: “Have you ever been with a girl, Forrest?” Forrest Gump: (nervously) “I’m sitting next to them in home economics class…”
4) Jenny Curran: “His name is Forrest.” Forrest Gump: “Like me.” Jenny Curran: “I named him after his dad.” Forrest Gump: “Does he have a dad named Forrest too?” Jenny Curran: “You’re his dad, Forrest.”
5) Jenny Curran: “Did you ever dream, Forrest, about who you’d be?” Forrest Gump: “Who Will I Be?” Jenny Curran: “Yeah.” Forrest Gump: “I’m-I’m not going to be?”
6) Forrest Gump: “I’m not a smart man…but I know what love is.”
7) Forrest Gump: “Mama always said that life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to taste.” The series was voted 40th among the 100 Greatest Movie Quotes by the American Film Institute. In 2007, AFI ranked Forrest Gump as the 76th best film of all time.
8) Forrest Gump: “Stupid is still stupid.”
Tom Hanks modeled his accent after a young Forrest (Michael Conner Humphreys, who actually spoke that way).
Forrest Gump was a hugely successful film with a production cost of $55 million and a worldwide gross of $677+ million. Upon its release in 1994, it became Paramount’s fastest-grossing film to reach the $100 million, $150 million, and $200 million mark, surpassing $250 million in 66 days.
More importantly, Forrest Gump won 6 Oscars at the Academy Awards – Best Picture, Tom Hanks for Best Actor, Robert Zemeckis for Best Director, Eric Roth for Best Screenplay based on a novel by Winston Groom, Arthur Schmidt for Best Film Editing, and Ken Ralston, George Murphy, Stephen Rosenbaum and Allen Hall for Best Visual Effects.
Forrest Gump also received 7 other Academy Award nominations for Best Supporting Actor (Gary Sinise), Best Original Score (Alan Silvestri), Best Set Decoration, Best Cinematography (Don Burgess), Best Makeup, Best Sound, and Best sound effects editing.
Among his other 32 wins and 38 nominations were 7 Golden Globe nominations and wins for Best Actor, Best Director, and Best Picture.
As with any award-winning production, many famous professionals passed on the opportunity to be part of the success. Terry Gilliam and Barry Sonnenfeld directed the film. Bill Murray was considered for the role of Forrest, Chevy Chase turned down the role of Forrest, and three others turned down the role of Bubba—David Alan Grier, Dave Chappelle, and Ice Cube.
Tom Hanks said he would only make the movie if all the events that happened were historically accurate. For example, when Gump calls to report the Watergate break-in, the guard on duty picks up the phone saying, “Security, Frank Willis.” Willis was the actual security guard on duty that night who discovered the burglary that led to Richard Nixon’s resignation from the presidency.
Tom Hanks is an incredible actor to get. While Forrest Gump grossed $677 million and is by far his biggest box office success, he has appeared in 19 other films that have grossed more than $100 million, ranking 3rd among all actors appearing in films that generated a 3.3 billions of dollars.
Forrest Gump was directed by Robert Zemeckis, written by Eric Roth based on the novel by Winston Groom. I really liked Forrest Gump and I think you will too. If you’ve seen it before, come back and experience the magical moments of hope, courage, patience, love, understanding and compassion – all of which give our lives a special meaning.
Copyright © 2008 Ed Bagley
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