Monday, 18 June 2012

Forrest Gump

A little while ago, I watched Forrest Gump again. It's been one of my favourite movies for a few years. I first saw it after studying the Vietnam War in History and I thought it was a really interesting film. As I've got older I've watched it over and over again and I love it like almost no other movie. My love for Forrest Gump has grown to the extent that I've convinced myself that this film loves me back. A bit of trivia for you: it's most recent claim to fame is in HBO's Girls as the source of Lena Dunham's character Hannah's "Forrest Gump related fear." And although she might have been freaked, everyone has a place in their heart for Forrest and I'm not writing this to persuade you to watch it. By that I mean: if you haven't seen it what are you doing reading this? Go! DVD player/Netflix/whatever... now! And then, you know, come back and join in the love for Forrest Gump.

Run, Forrest, run!

Firstly, I love how the movie starts. No-one speaks for quite a while and then you hear "Hello. I'm Forrest, Forrest Gump." It starts the film off how it goes on because the whole story is told by Forrest in his own words and it introduces his character's childlike and naive personality.
The film uses important events in American history to structure the story, so it's a very useful film to watch as the more I've learned, I get more of the references to people and events that are mentioned. I love the fast paced dialogue, loaded with references to icons of American culture.


Here are some things it mentions:
  • Pilgrims coming over on the Mayflower.
  • The Civil War.
  • The Ku Klux Klan.
  • University integration.
  • Marilyn Monroe's death.
  • The Kennedy brothers assassination.
  • Bit about the history of the Deep South.
  • The Vietnam War.
  • Hippies in th 1960's.
  • Vets against Vietnam.
  • The Black Panthers.
  • Drug culture in California.
  • Hollywood Boulevard.
  • All-American Ping Pong Team.
  • The American relationship with Communist China.
  • The Cold War
  • Nixon's resignation over Watergate.
  • Apple Inc.
  • "Shit happens" bumper slogan.
  • Smiley face t-shirt.
  • The HIV pandemic in the 1980's.
So as you can see, for anyone studying history it's a entertaining overview of some of the main events in American history between (I think) the 1950's and the 1990's.

In terms of the characters, you can't think of Forrest Gump without thinking of Jenny. She suffers throughout her life, first being abused by her father and then is the victim of domestic abuse from her boyfriend. One of my favourite scenes is when she comes home to County Greenbow, and sleeps a lot and then throws rocks at her house and leaves. It's sad but when they're together they are so happy and belong with each other. He's left in silence when she leaves, so as though she brought music into his life. You see her again working as a waitress and she see's Forrest on the news because he ran "clean across the country, for no particular reason." I cry like a baby when you see her with little Forrest because it's just so sweet than she finally gets to be happy, after the abuse and drugs and suicide attempts. But then the twist is revealed and if I'm not crying by that point... something's very wrong.

The perfect dress.
The music used in the soundtrack is also amazing, including Elvis, Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel and The Kinks. Music also plays a big role in the plot; Jenny wants to be a folk singer like Joanie Myers and Forrest meets John Lennon on a talk show. There's also the protest songs of the Vets Against Vietnam movement as well as the song everyone remembers from the helicopter scene. I also love the scene where Jenny and Forrest dance to Sweet Home Alabama.


I think the next most important character is Lieutenant Dan, played by the amazing Gary Sinise (Of Mice & Men, CSI New York), he plays a huge role in the plot as the guy who only wanted to be a war hero, Forrest's mentor and good friend. Their relationship reminds me of the way he took care of John Malkovich's Lennie in OM&M; a caring, even parental role to the more childlike and innocent character. His disability is made particuarly sad because although he's clearly very traumatised there was little support given to him and he is basically left to drink away his pain. His profound bitterness and disappointment are shown in the heart-breaking moment when he says: "This wasn't supposed to happen Gump. Not to me." I also love the scene where he screams at God in the storm. He has nothing to lose and this cathartic experience allows him to make his peace with the world. He and Forrest make a fortune with the Bubbogump Shrimp Corporation and by the end of the film his character has resolved his guilt and issues with the devastation of Vietnam, at least on a personal level. "Kiss ma crippled ass! God is listening?" Oh, Lieutenant Dan we love you and your space shuttle legs.

Yeah, this is why I keep watching this movie.

While watching it I couldn't help drawing comparisons with some other classic American films. The scene in the Gospel Church reminded me of The Blues Brothers and the setting of the start of the film in the 1950's made me think of both Pleasantville and The Truman Show, in the style of dress of the characters, the scene on product placement
("I know Forrest but it's $25,000 dollars. Maybe you could just hold it for a while?" Wise words, Mrs Gump.)
and the relative innocence about the world of the central male protagonists. I saw both of these movies in an English class a few years ago. We must have had one of those teachers who just put DVD's on all the time. I don't remember any complaints!

Finally, here's a list of the best quotes. Try saying some of these not in Forrest's voice (it's impossible!)

"Jenny and me was like peas and carrots."
"Momma said: Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."
"I can run like the wind blows."
"We got more money than Davy Crocker."
"Sometimes, I guess there just aren't enough rocks."
"I just felt like running."
"You're a momma, Jenny."


I hope you enjoyed my review. Whether you've seen it once or ten times, Forrest Gump is a film that will never fail to touch your heart and remind you of the potential in all of us to be extraordinary. 
Jessica x

8 comments:

  1. great review dear, i would like to watch it :D
    X
    http://www.monicakosasih.blogspot.com/

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    1. Thank you :) Enjoy watching it x

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  2. My kid sometimes sounds like Forrest Gump. It takes me back..

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  3. The Forrest Gump soundtrack is one of my FAVOURITES ever.
    I love the movie too, but I don't consider it a favourite of mine :) Lt. Dan- love him!
    Great review- you definitely bring up all the good stuff about it!

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    1. Thanks, I always think a good soundtrack is really important for a film :) glad to hear you liked the review x

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  4. i love this movie so much! especially when he helps people with ideas on his run! great review! :)

    <3 Sharmaine Ruth
    underpeachtrees.blogspot.com

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    1. That scene is hilarious! Glad you liked the review :) x

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Thank you for your comments - they make me smile and I promise to try and answer them all :)