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"Forrest Gump" Teaches Many Lessons, and Tom Hanks Earns Best Actor Oscar
Forrest Gump – 4 stars (Excellent)
“Forrest Gump” opens with a feather blowing in the wind and landing at the feet of Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks) sitting at a bus stop in Savannah (Herald). Gump picks him up and puts him 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, some aren’t, but make no mistake about it, Gump is a great storyteller. He is simple, unpretentious, honest, not obvious, honest. For such a humble man, his story is almost unbelievable.
As a child, Forrest walks in braces, avoids bullies who make fun of him, befriends Jenny (Robin Wright Penn), a lifelong stalker, meets Elvis Presley, meets John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and three presidents. Richard Nixon, who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his service in Vietnam, saves Lieutenant Dan (Gary Sinise) and loses his friend “Bubba” (Mykelti Williamson).
At an anti-war rally in Washington, D.C., he briefly reunites with Jenny, whose life has fallen into disarray after pursuing fame and the hippie lifestyle. Forrest takes up ping pong, becomes a nationally famous ping pong player, and starts a very successful shrimp boat business with Lt. Dan, who invests his earnings in Apple stock, and both become rich in the process.
He then encourages people to run, helps entrepreneurs create smiley stickers, loses his mother (Sally Field) and says he must decide his own destiny. In the midst of it all, Jenny and love elude him. Forrest lived in turbulent times.
If you’re giddy just imagining it all, I was too. After watching Forrest Gump for the first time, I appreciated the film’s merits, but I was involuntarily depressed 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 only sing its praises.
Eventually, Jenny saw Forrest running on TV and wrote to meet him. In doing so, Jenny discovers that she has a son and is very sick. She asked Forrest to marry her and died shortly after their marriage. When he learns that he is the father of his child, he takes it upon himself to raise him. When young Forrest boards the bus on his first day of school, a white feather falls from the Curious George book he’s carrying, gets caught in the wind, and floats into the sky.
If you’re wondering about the feather, it was real, but the performance in the movie was computer-generated. Feathers are important because they raise the question of whether we are all drifting like random winds, or whether each person is destined. Forrest speculates that it could be both.
Everything that happens to Forrest Gump is worth watching, and much of what happens teaches us important life lessons. It’s a love story, a relationship story, a story of one person in a world so big that it’s almost impossible to understand at times. This movie is about good and bad.
To understand where Forrest Gump is coming from, learn from these memorable lines from the movie:
1) Lt. Daniel Taylor: “Gump, have you found Jesus?” Forrest Gump: “I didn’t know you were looking for him, sir.”
2) Forrest Gump: (depicting Vietnam) “We were always on long walks and we were always looking for a guy named Charlie.”
3) Jenny Curran: “Forrest, have you been with a girl?” Forrest Gump: (nervously) “I sit 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 father.” Forrest Gump: “Did he have a father named Forrest too?” Jenny Curran: “You’re her father, Forrest.”
5) Jenny Curran: “Forrest, who do you dream of being?” Forrest Gump: “Who shall I be?” Jenny Curran: “Yes.” Forrest Gump: “Ain’t I?”
6) Forrest Gump: “I’m not a smart man…but I know what love is.”
7) Forrest Gump: “Mother always said life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.” The line is ranked number 40 on the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 best movie quotes. In 2007, AFI ranked Forrest Gump as the 76th greatest film of all time.
8) Forrest Gump: “A fool is like a fool.”
Tom Hanks modeled his accent on a young Forrest (Michael Conner Humphries, who used to speak like that).
Forrest Gump was a wildly successful film that grossed $677 million worldwide, with a production cost of $55 million. Since its release in 1994, it has grossed $100 million, $150 million, and $200 million, making it the fastest Paramount film to cross $250 million in 66 days.
Most notably, Forrest Gump won 6 Oscars for Best Picture, Tom Hanks for Best Actor, Robert Zemeckis for Best Director, Eric Roth for Best Screenplay by Winston Groom, Arthur Schmidt for Best Director, and Ken. Ralston, George Murphy, Steven Rosenbaum and Allen Hall for Best Visual Effects.
Forrest Gump also won Oscars for Best Supporting Actor (Gary Sinise), Best Score (Alan Silvestri), Best Direction, Best Cinematography (Don Burgess), Best Makeup, and Best Sound. , nominated for 7 more nominations in the “Best Sound Effects” category.
Among 32 other awards and 38 nominations, he has been nominated seven times for the Golden Globes, including Best Actor, Best Director and Best Picture.
As with any other award-winning production, many well-known professionals passed on the opportunity to be a part of the success. Terry Gilliam and Barry Sonnenfeld were offered to direct the film. Bill Murray was considered for the role of Forrest, Chevy Chase turned down the role of Forrest, and three others, Bubba-David Alan Grier, Dave Chappelle and Ice Cube, turned down the role.
Tom Hanks said that he would make the film only if all the events that happened were historically accurate. For example, when Gump calls to report the Watergate burglary, the security guard on duty replies, “Security, Frank Willis.” Willis, who was the real guard on duty that night when Richard Nixon discovered the breach that led to his resignation as President.
Tom Hanks is an amazing and talented actor. Forrest Gump grossed $677 million, and while his biggest box office hit is far and away, he appeared in 19 different movies that grossed $100+ million, ranking him 3rd among all actors with $3.3 billion.
“Forrest Gump” was directed by Robert Zemeckis and written by Eric Roth based on a novel by Winston Groom. I really enjoyed Forrest Gump and I think you will too. If you’ve seen it before, watch it again 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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