21 March 2012

Film review: Forrest Gump (1994), by Robert Zemekis, *****


"Stupid is as stupid does," says Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks) as he discusses his relative level of intelligence with a stranger while waiting for a bus. Despite his sub-normal IQ, Gump leads a truly charmed life, with a ringside seat for many of the most memorable events of the second half of the 20th century. Entirely without trying, Forrest teaches Elvis Presley to dance, becomes a football star, meets John F. Kennedy, serves with honor in Vietnam, meets Lyndon Johnson, speaks at an anti-war rally at the Washington Monument, hangs out with the Yippies, defeats the Chinese national team in table tennis, meets Richard Nixon, discovers the break-in at the Watergate, opens a profitable shrimping business, becomes an original investor in Apple Computers, and decides to run back and forth across the country for several years. Meanwhile, as the remarkable parade of his life goes by, Forrest never forgets Jenny (Robin Wright Penn), the girl he loved as a boy, who makes her own journey through the turbulence of the 1960s and 1970s that is far more troubled than the path Forrest happens upon. Featured alongside Tom Hanks are Sally Field, Gary Sinise and Mykelti Williamson.


Forrest Gump is a landmark film, touching on many delicate aspects of human life, love and values. "Life is like a box of chocolate: you never know what you are going to get." Oh so true! Fatalistic? Not really, as a strong implication of the movie is that you have to work hard at your life, no matter what you find in your box of chocolates.

It is just a "feel good" movie as many have written? I don't think so, it goes deeper than that. And in fact it did not make me feel good at all. In the end I could not help but feeling angry at Jenny for what she did to Gump. Of course, most of us men have had our "Jenny" in our lives. Mine (now history, thanks God!) even looks like Jenny in the film!

I could not help but smile at discovering that Bubba, the black shrimp fisherman in the movie, inspired a real company that is now very successful!

The Blu-ray disc is very good, containing interesting interviews with Hanks and the director, as well as other "behind the scenes" material, including the making of special effects which were painstaking to produce and quite advanced for the time. The European version on sale on Amazon.co.uk is in English, French, Italian, German and Spanish, with subtitles in these languages plus all the Scandinavian languages.

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