For full disclosure, Forrest Gump is my second favourite film. I find that, usually, writing about something you love, cherish and find meaningful will get the juices flowing twice as fast and take half the length of time than writing about something you don’t really care about will. It seems obvious but maybe not.
It took me almost 24 years to watch Forrest Gump. I think I had seen it when I was younger – primary school age – but didn’t really remember it too well. I’m not going to count that as a proper watch. The only thing I remembered is that some parts were a bit emotional. This is the reason I didn’t watch this film properly for 24 years.
I’m a big, old crier at films. I love a good emote. My Sunday’s are spent either hungover and emotional or tired and emotional but the one great common theme is the emoting. It’s not something I’m ashamed of, but it is true that I will sob at almost anything. A romantic scene: sob. A death scene: weep. A really lovely scene: happy cry. I am pathetically sensitive when it comes to movies. More so than in real life, I imagine. But it’s the above attributes in movies that inspire and excite me. A great film about a character’s human side. This probably explains why I love Forrest Gump so much.
The first 20 minutes set the scene perfectly. A young boy, disadvantaged. The general theme of this film is to just keep going. “Run, Forrest, Run.” Do your own thing and keep on going, not matter what else happens. And a fair few things happen to Gump when he’s younger. Non bigger than meeting friend, Jenny.
Jenny is an arse. She’s also clearly conflicted and doesn’t know what she wants, and more to the point, who she is. Whilst that doesn’t excuse her, it again makes her a true human figure in the film. Her personality changes with every scene, years going by with her taking up one guise or another. She is a lesson on loving and also kind of loathing a character in a film.
Some of the most quotable lines in movie history are from this film, and most you will already know. Boxes of chocolates, mothers and running all get their moment, but for me the most memorable part of the film is the charm and innocence at the heart of the story.
In the books, Forrest is a little more stern and harsh, a certain amount of love is missing from the title character. Softer edges have been added to the film character, I guess it’s hard to truly love someone who you could feasibly dislike. There are scenes at the beginning where Gump is rejected on multiple counts: school, bus journeys and by Jenny – it would be pretty hard to feel sorry for someone who was essentially an arsehole, but here the writers have made him loveable. They’ve drawn us in with his simplicity, made us fall for his outlook on life and when Forrest Gump is down, we’re down too. When he is up, we’re really up. We’re happy crying. Having a nice, happy cry.
One really sweet attribute to the film is the throwback to yesteryear and landmark occasions through the eyes of a man who seems to never quite understand significance. Elvis and JFK make small cameos in the film, and both are treated just like anybody else. Gump’s innocence transcends ignorance and hits the heady heights of absolute and plain uncertainty. I wouldn’t call his apathy a lack knowledge when it comes to each passing landmark, more Forrest allowing himself a healthy distance from hyperbole and hysteria. A lesson for the right now, if you get nothing else from this film.
To describe Tom Hanks in this film is to attempt the impossible. I genuinely think it’s one of the best all-round performances caught on film. There’s a subtly in his jokes and a pointed arrow to each sentence he throws. The character looks effortless yet at the same time you can see the absolute and unwavering effort Hanks puts into practice. He brings heartwarm by the bucket-load and there’s a wit to Gump’s simplicity that is very much ‘laugh with’ than ‘laugh at’, and this couldn’t be done without Hanks gauging the tone perfectly. “Don’t do anything stupid” Forrest is told upon arrival in Vietnam, to serve in the war. “I sure hope I don’t let him down” he replies. To us that was funny, and to Forrest it was true and to Hanks it was whatever we wanted it to be. It was thrown out from the screen with the ability to allow us our own take on it. As a joke, a line and an insight it sums the film up perfectly. It sure doesn’t let us down.
I think you need to watch this film. Not just because I love it. Not just because it’s excellent. But because it offers an awesome perspective on life when you’ve been dealt a 2/7 off suit. You could really do with a break but life keeps dealing you sour lemons. So you take the lemons and no, you don’t make lemonade with them, you put them on the floor and you run away from them. You run to the nearest store and you get what you want. Forrest is dealt lemons and he literally refuses them. That is the main theme of this movie. Not the lemons, but the refusal. Loads of excellent things happen to Forrest, even when shit happens. But he leaves the shit, he runs away from the shit and finds something awesome, something excellent and something that he wants. This film is a life lesson packaged as a fool. A lovely, sweet, kind-of idiotic fool.