Forrest Gump, the Story of Man Who Knew What Love Is
It probably goes without saying that art plays an unprecedentedly important role in human life. Throughout human history, it has served the purpose of explaining things people were afraid of or unable to understand. At some point in human history, things have changed and art’s mission has become reflecting life. The motive behind a purpose like this was comforting those in distress and disturbing those who have grown overly fond of the comforts of the consumerist-driven life. Forrest Gump is a film directed by Robert Zemeckis. It was presented in 1994, and it stars Tom Hanks, Sally Field, Robin Wright, Gary Sinise, and Mykelti Williamson, among others. Based on Winston Groom’s novel of the same name, Forrest Gump is the story of an ordinary man who made history. The film is one of my long-time favorites and I can honestly say that it has influenced my life and changed the way I view the world.
The film under consideration is a story of a life of a man named Forrest Gump, starting from his childhood years and showing his journey from adolescence through adulthood. It is a beautiful story of a man who became a part of some significant historical events, a story of a man who, according to himself, was not smart but turned out to be wiser and kinder than most of the people he met in his life. It seems quite natural that I have seen the film many times and I do not see any better way of making a journey through my memories about it than to recall film’s most memorable moments. Therefore, I invite you to join me on this journey down memory lane where the film’s most touching, heartwarming, and thought-provoking moments come alive.
Forrest Gump is a turn-of-a-century drama. In retrospect, one of the main reasons I liked the film so much is probably the fact that it outlines the key events in the history of the United States in the twentieth century after the period of the Great Wars. Late in the 1940s and in the two decades that followed, America went through a period of social, economic, and political unrest. However, the period turned out to be phenomenal culturally. Symbolically, Zemeckis’ Forrest Gump is the artistic attempt to reflect on and realize what made the magic of that time. In a way, the director with his work pays tribute to the era when people were smarter, kinder, and easier to reason with.
Forrest Gump is a story of coming of age. Forrest himself starts telling history by honoring his mother, and he does it in the sweetest way possible – by offering chocolates from the box to strangers he meets at the bus station just because his mother used to say that “life was like a box of chocolates” (Zemeckis). Forrest and his mother were very close, mainly because he had no father growing up, as well as suffered from the crooked spine and had to wear leg braces just so that he could walk. Forrest Gump was naïve, ingenuous, and frank as a child, and he continues to exhibit these traits even as a grown man. At some point in the film, young Forrest asks his mother what his destiny would be, to which Mrs. Gump replies that he might need to figure it out for himself. Like Forrest says later, “Mama always had a way of explaining things so I could understand them” (Zemeckis). Another great lesson Forrest’s mother taught him was “stupid is as stupid does,” a maxim that closely relates to the statement that actions speak louder than words. What Mrs. Gump meant was that you are not stupid as long as you can tell the right from wrong and know what being kind means. Forrest’s relationships with his mother taught me that parents have some considerable impact on the formation of the personality of a child. In addition to that, the film showed how important establishing healthy relationships within a family is.
In a way, Forrest Gump is the story about embracing the destiny and, at the same time, making one’s own luck. At some point in the film, Forrest’s mother tells him, “You have to do the best with what God gave you” (Zemeckis). Forrest, on the other hand, finds that human life is a chance and the game of chess at the same time. He is not entirely sure if there is such thing as destiny at all; nor does he believe that all that makes up human life is a mere coincidence; rather, he thinks that the truth is somewhere in between (Zemeckis). When the war in Vietnam breaks out and starts to gain momentum, Forrest Gump is drafted. This is the moment when his faith is tested. When asked whether he has found the God he believes in, Forrest’s answer is as simple and genius as can be, “I didn’t know I was supposed to be looking for him” (Zemeckis). The episode shows how genuinely wise, open, and frank Forrest Gump is.
Forrest Gump is a story of friendship, loyalty, honor, and sacrifice. An army is a place where Forrest makes friends. Furthermore, all his encounters with famous people (for example, John Lennon and President John Kennedy) are, in a way, an aftermath of his military service. Forrest Gump becomes friends with Benjamin Buford Blue, also known as Bubba, a man as kind, naïve, and open as Forrest himself. “Bubba was my best good friend. And even I know that ain’t something you can find just around the corner” (Zemeckis). Bubba’s wish is to own a shrimp boat, but he could certainly make a great chef since he has all it takes to be an excellent cook. Lieutenant Dan Taylor is another person with whom Forrest forms a connection during his military service. During one battle, when the American forces have been defeated, Forrest rescues Bubba and Lieutenant Taylor from the battlefield. Bubba dies, and Forrest has to part ways with Lieutenant Taylor so that each of them can move on with their lives. It should be mentioned that another thing that Forrest learned from his mother is that what often holds people back is an unwillingness and inability to let the past go (Zemeckis). Even though Forrest believes in what his mother taught him, he never forgets his friends. He buys a shrimp boat and pays a visit to Lieutenant Taylor, and this meeting is somewhat disillusioning and thought-provoking for both. Forrest’s friendship with Bubba and Lieutenant Taylor proved to me that it is important for people to feel that they are a part of something greater than they are themselves. In addition to that, the film showed how important friendship is.
At this point, it is important to take a small detour to make the statement that Forrest Gump is in no way a greedy and selfish man. “Lieutenant Dan got me invested in some kind of fruit company. So then I got a call from him, saying we don’t have to worry about money no more” (Zemeckis). The fruit company in the film is obviously a reference to Apple Inc. Dan Taylor invested his and Forrest’s money in Apple to recover his fallen fortunes and express his gratitude to Forrest for being rescued. Assuming that the inferences made above are correct, Forrest Gump is truly far from being covetous, selfish, and arrogant.
Finally, Forrest Gump is a romantic story. Forrest meets Jenny Curran on a school bus. From the very moment they met, they obviously care for each other very much. The two become friends and form an attachment very quickly. They part their ways after school but reunite for a few times. Jenny realizes that Forrest’s feelings for her are strong and true, but on Forrest’s part, it is an unrequited love for sure. In an attempt to find herself, Jenny becomes a hippy and becomes involved in different social movements of pacifistic persuasion. Before Forrest is drafted, the last thing we know about Jenny is that she became a folk singer. Every time Jenny is close to having troubles, Forrest is there to help her out. Regrettably, things do stay this way for long. When the war ends and Forrest attempts to return to civilian life, he and Jenny reunite for Jenny to make her final request. She had been diagnosed with an unknown and incurable disease that later came to be known as HIV/AIDS. By the time Forrest returns, Jenny has a son, whom Forrest eventually adopts. The final favor Jenny asks Forrest to do is to take care of her son. Jenny has Forrest’s word and he keeps his promise by being a good, warm, and caring father. In his lifetime, he saw many good people die, people whom he held most dear, his friends and family, including Jenny. When there were bad times, young Jenny used to say, “Dear God, make me a bird. So I could fly far. Far, far away from here” (Zemeckis). Thus, the white feather floating down through the air at the beginning of the film, the feather that Forrest picks up so gently and puts into his suitcase, becomes symbolic. “Mama always said, dying was a part of life. I sure wish it wasn’t” (Zemeckis). Forrest’s grief is deep, but he is also a remarkably resilient man who, no matter what, has a mission in life, which gives him courage and strength to do what he has to do. By and large, the relationship between Forrest and Jenny sends the message of pure love, compassion, and loyalty.
It is just the time to make a long story short, and I must say, quite a journey it was. Forrest Gump is a film with some vivid historical background that sheds the light on what life was like back in the 1950s through to the 1980s. The film sends the message of kindness, love, friendship, honor, dignity, bravery, compassion, patience, and sacrifice, which is probably why I loved it so much in the first place. The film seems like a true-to-life story to me, although I do realize that the makers of the film used hyperbole and metaphor to create meaning and convey the message as stated above. I would not go as far as to say that the film has made me change my life, but it most certainly has changed the way I think about things and perceive the world. For sure, the film has also affected my personality – in a way, watching it made me who I am now. I would definitely recommend watching Forrest Gump to all those who are cinema aficionados or those who attempt to find answers to some important eternal questions.