Forrest Gump Analysis
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Lessons Learned From The Less Intelligent
In the world of film, it is commonplace for a story, novel, or play to be adapted to a movie. This practice has many advantages: for one, if the book was successful and liked by critics and readers, and the movie was made well, the movie should get positive reviews as well and be successful. Also the movie usually exceeds the fame of the original book since there are more people who watch movies than read books. One disadvantage of adapting a novel into a movie is that it gives the critics one more thing to harp on, or cause viewers to dislike the film if it strays too far from the original story, especially those viewers who read the book before they saw the movie.
Forrest Gump is a 1994 dramatic-comedy based on the 1986 novel of the same name written by Winston Groom. According to imdb.com, the film was awarded six Oscars, with another 32 wins and 38 nominations among other award organizations. Some of the Oscars the film received were best actor in a leading role, Tom Hanks, best director, Robert Zemekis, best picture, and best writing screenplay based on another medium, Eric Roth (imdb). All of which show what made this film so successful, why it was so captivating to those who have seen it. Tom Hanks is arguably one of the greatest actors of all time. He has proven he can play the main role in any movie genre there is. He is most adept in playing a serious role in a dramatic film. In Forrest Gump his character balances the comedy with equal seriousness. He shows he can be the median in which we are not watching Tom Hanks pretending to be someone, but rather we are watching Forrest Gump, what Forrest feels. What Tom Hanks does for the movie can not be overlooked. Apart from Hanks, the Movie has superb supporting roles, like that of actor Gary Sinse, who plays Lt. Dan, as well as very good directing, production, and even how the screenplay was written is absolutely outstanding. The synergy of all elements tells one of the greatest stories in film. It teaches us some very important facts of life, that we must look at and understand. Because what the movie is telling us is important; its about us the individual, and how we treat others.
The film begins with Forrest Gump sitting at a bus stop, when he starts conversation with a women who sits on the bench. He begins to tell his life story from when he was a child, to when he met his childhood friend, Jenny, through college and his Football days, to fighting in Vietnam, becoming a shrimp fisherman, ping-pong champion, running across America, all while meeting three presidents and depicting how his life intertwined with famous historical events.
The film has some critics, as does every film. The biggest criticism of the movie is that it doesnt follow the novel too closely. The story covers the first eleven chapters, then skips to the end. Key differences include the additions of Forrest wearing leg braces, meeting Elvis Presley, running across the country, and the death of his mother and Jenny. The movie also excludes that Forrest is an autistic savant, evident by his perfect grade in advanced physics despite having an IQ of 75. There are many other excluded from the film such as Forrest becoming an astronaut. The story is naive, and Forrest got where he was only by obeying orders, not by having an ambitious drive.
Besides the film diverging from the novel, the film posses many great lessons that can be pulled from beneath the actual dialogue. Eric Roth had done an outstanding job adapting the story for a film. The book was a strait memoir written by Forrest so Roth had Forrest narrating his story from a bench at a bus stop, with flashbacks depicting his stories. Many lines from the movie are analytical. Forrest starts his story saying ???Theres an awful lot you can tell about a person by their shoes. Where they goin. Where they been. Ive worn lots of shoes.??? What hes saying is simple, yet undeniably true. Shoes can show what kind of job a person has, what they do, how much money they have. Forrest uses it to say what he has done in his life; as a child he wore the metal braces that hed been picked on for, he wore cleats in college, boots in the army, and running shoes in his run across country.
Destiny verses free will comes up in the second half of the movie when Forrest meets Lt. Dan. Lt. Dan believes in destiny, he thinks that everything happens for a reason, that its all part of a plan and his ultimate fate is out of his hands. His ancestors all had fought and died in each American war since the American Revolution; Lt. Dan thought this was his fate as well, he truly believed he had to die in Vietnam in combat. Forrest interferes with Lt. Dans destiny when he pulls him out of harms way in the jungle and carries him to safety. Forrest saves Lt. Dans life at the cost of his legs. Lt. Dan is angry at Forrest, he feels Forrest cheated him out of his destiny, where he would die on the battlefield with honor, now hes just a cripple, a legless freak. Lt. Dan doesnt know what to do with his life now that Forrest cheated his destiny. He became bitter until after becoming wealthy with the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co, Lt. Dan was now grateful that Forrest saved his life, and can even walk with his new titanium alloy legs. At her deathbed Forrests mother explained how she felt about destiny and life. She told Forrest that death is just another part of life, something we are all destined to do. She feels she was destined to give birth to him and raised him the best she could. We set our own destiny and have to do the best with what God gives us. Which is when she says, ???Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what youre gonna get.??? After reflecting on his life, and standing over Jennys grave, Forrest is trying to contemplate if Lt. Dan was right, that we all have a destiny, or if his momma was right, that we make our own destiny. He then concludes that ???maybe its both, maybe both is happening at the same time???.
The most important lesson the film tells us is that sometimes we get too caught up in life. We get so worried about money, get caught up in ourselves, pity ourselves, put the blame on everyone else, or just blame ourselves for all the bad things happening to us. We lose focus on whats really important in life. Believing in ourself, being kind to others, keeping promises, dont take everything for granted, knowing how to love one another. Forrest knows these very well and are deeply engraved in his values. The irony being, we lose focus, and it takes a simple-minded man of an IQ of 75 to teach us what is truly important. And once a person accepts these, they truly achieve happiness.