Forrest Gump (1994)


Introduction

Forrest Gump is a 1994 American comedy-drama film directed by Robert Zemeckis and written by Eric Roth.

It is based on the 1986 novel of the same name by Winston Groom and stars Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, Gary Sinise, Mykelti Williamson and Sally Field.

The story depicts several decades in the life of Forrest Gump (Hanks), a slow-witted but kindhearted man from Alabama who witnesses and unwittingly influences several defining historical events in the 20th century United States.

The film differs substantially from the novel.

Outline

In 1981 at a bus stop in Savannah, Georgia, a man named Forrest Gump recounts his life story to strangers who sit next to him on a bench.

In 1951 in Greenbow, Alabama, young Forrest is fitted with leg braces to correct a curved spine, and is unable to walk properly. He lives alone with his mother, who runs a boarding house out of their home that attracts many tenants, including a young Elvis Presley, who plays the guitar for Forrest and incorporates Forrest’s jerky dance movements into his performances. On his first day of school, Forrest meets a girl named Jenny Curran, and the two become best friends.

Forrest is often bullied because of his physical disability and marginal intelligence. While fleeing from some bullies, his braces fall off, revealing Forrest to be a very fast runner. This talent eventually allows him to receive a football scholarship at the University of Alabama in 1963; he witnesses Governor George Wallace’s stand in the schoolhouse door, becomes a top running back, is named on the All-American team, and meets President John F. Kennedy at the White House.

After his college graduation, Forrest enlists into the U.S. Army, where he befriends a fellow soldier nicknamed “Bubba”, who convinces Forrest to go into the shrimping business with him after their service. In 1967, they are sent to Vietnam, serving with the 9th Infantry Division in the Mekong Delta region. After a few routine operations, their platoon is ambushed while on patrol, and Bubba is killed in action. Forrest saves several wounded platoon-mates – including his lieutenant, Dan Taylor, who loses both his legs – and is awarded the Medal of Honour for his heroism by President Lyndon B. Johnson.

At the anti-war “March on the Pentagon” rally, Forrest meets Abbie Hoffman and briefly reunites with Jenny, who has been living a hippie lifestyle. He also develops a talent for ping-pong, and becomes a sports celebrity as he competes against Chinese teams in ping-pong diplomacy, earning him an interview alongside John Lennon on The Dick Cavett Show. In New York City, he spends the holidays and the 1972 new year with Lieutenant Dan, who has become an embittered cripple. Forrest soon meets President Richard Nixon and is put up in the Watergate complex, where he accidentally exposes the Watergate scandal, forcing Nixon to resign. Forrest Gump is officially discharged from the army after the war ends.

Returning to Greenbow, Forrest endorses a company that makes ping-pong paddles. He uses the earnings to buy a shrimping boat in Bayou La Batre, fulfilling his promise to Bubba. Lieutenant Dan joins Forrest in 1974, and they initially have little success. After their boat becomes the only one to survive Hurricane Carmen, they pull in huge amounts of shrimp and create the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company, after which Lieutenant Dan finally thanks Forrest for saving his life. Lieutenant Dan invests into Apple Computers and the two become millionaires, but Forrest also gives half of the earnings to Bubba’s family, giving them a better life. Forrest then returns home to see his mother as she dies of cancer.

In 1976, Jenny – recovering from years of drugs and abuse – returns to visit Forrest, and after a while he proposes to her. That night she tells Forrest she loves him and the two make love, but she leaves the next morning. Heartbroken, Forrest goes running, and spends the next three years in a relentless cross-country marathon, becoming famous again before returning home to Greenbow.

In the present, Forrest reveals that he is waiting at the bus stop because he received a letter from Jenny, who asked him to visit her. The strangers say that the address on the letter is only a few blocks away and Forrest immediately takes off. As Forrest is finally reunited with Jenny, she introduces him to their son, named Forrest Gump, Jr. Jenny tells Forrest she is sick with an unknown incurable virus and the three move back to Greenbow. Jenny and Forrest finally marry, but she dies a year later. The film ends with Forrest seeing his son off on his first day of school.

Cast

  • Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump.
  • Robin Wright as Jenny Curran.
  • Gary Sinise as Lieutenant Dan Taylor.
  • Mykelti Williamson as Benjamin Buford “Bubba” Blue.
  • Sally Field as Mrs. Gump.
  • Haley Joel Osment as Forrest Gump, Jr.
  • Peter Dobson as Elvis.
    • Although Kurt Russell was uncredited, he provided the voice for Elvis in the scene.
  • Dick Cavett as himself.
  • Sonny Shroyer as Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant.
  • Grand L. Bush, Michael Jace, Conor Kennelly, and Teddy Lane Jr. as the Black Panthers.

Trivia

  • Principal photography took place in late 1993, mainly in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina.
  • Extensive visual effects were used to incorporate Hanks into archived footage and to develop other scenes.
  • The soundtrack features songs reflecting the different periods seen in the film.
  • Forrest Gump was released in the United States on July 6, 1994 and received favourable reviews for Zemeckis’ directing, Sinise and Hanks’ performances, the visual effects, the music and the screenplay.
  • The film was an enormous success at the box office; it became the top-grossing film in America released that year and earned over US$677 million worldwide during its theatrical run, making it the second highest-grossing film of 1994, behind The Lion King.
  • The soundtrack sold over 12 million copies.
  • Forrest Gump won the Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor for Hanks, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Visual Effects, and Best Film Editing.
  • It received many award nominations, including Golden Globes, British Academy Film Awards and Screen Actors Guild Awards.
  • Varying interpretations have been made of the protagonist and the film’s political symbolism.
  • In 2011, the Library of Congress selected the film for preservation in the United States National Film Registry as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.

Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s): Robert Zemeckis.
  • Producer(s): Wendy Finerman, Steve Tisch, and Steve Starkey.
  • Writer(s): Eric Roth.
  • Music: Alan Silvestri.
  • Cinematography: Don Burgess.
  • Editor(s): Arthur Schmidt.
  • Production: Wendy Finerman Productions.
  • Distributor(s): Paramount Pictures.
  • Release Date: 23 June 1994 (Los Angeles) and 06 July 1994 (US).
  • Running time: 142 minutes.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

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