Forrest gump is a cult classic, it’s rare you find someone who hasn’t seen Forrest gump. So it surprised lots of people when I said that I’d never seen it, and now at 17 I’ve finally gotten round to it and can see exactly why everyone loves it.
(Now obviously this film came out 22 years ago so SPOILERS are gonna be present in this review and all my classic reviews)
Forrest Gump is directed by the brillaint Robert Zemeckis (who recently directed the nauseating “the walk”) and stars Tom Hanks, Robin Wright and Gary Sinise. It’s about Forrest gumps life, we see his ups and downs and how he impacted the world as much as he did. From starting the Watergate scandal to inventing the quote “Shit happens” Forrest changed the world and showed that anyone, no matter what people tell them, can do anything. That’s what I took from this film, it’s inspirational and heartwarming but at the same time Forrest’s niave outlook on the world can lead to some dark and meaningful statements on society as a whole. This leads to the films best moments when the really dark and horrible times in Forrest’s life are turned around by his consistent positive outlook and it can truly bring a smile to your face. There’s obviously a lot of hidden meanings in this film, it’s a lot more than just a tale of a mans extraordinary life, and I liked that. The use of the feather (which could be interpreted as freedom and how it’s not until he moves on from Jenny that Forrest is free again) or the symbolism of Forrest being able to run. It’s all more than meets the eye and I imagine that the more I watch this film the more I’ll notice things and enjoy it. That is a quality that every film should have, you should be able to watch a film multiple times and still discover completly new things about it (The main reason I like fight club so much is because of its rewatch capabilities).
Tom Hanks won the Oscar for best Leading Actor in 1994 for his role as Forrest Gump and I now see why. He has never been this comfortable in a role in his entire career. As someone who has seen quite a few Tom Hanks films (not all, but a lot) I can happily say this is my favourite and in my opinion his best role. He plays his character with such charisma and charm that’s impossible for you to not fall in love with his character, from start to finish Tom Hanks really convices you that he is Forrest Gump and it’s one of the most deserved Oscar wins of the past 30 years. I cannot fault any of the cast as they all did a superb job from the child actors to the random Bench visitors they all played there roles brilliantly and every role seemed very well cast. A special mention goes to Gary sinise who shows exactly how to play a role that changes so much. He hit evey note perfectly, from the severly depressed cripple to the over the moon sailer Gary never managed to lose the charm he had. It’s a role that’s so difficult to play considering how much his character changes in the film, but he does it so well. I’m shocked that his only big role after this was CSI: New York.
The directing in this film is near perfect along with the cinematography. It fits the film perfectly and every single shot seems like so much thought is placed into it. It’s reminescent to that of “American Beauty” and how so much thought is put into what the audience sees and how the story progresses. I imagine a film that’s so obscure and disjointed is very difficult to direct but Robert Zemeckis does a brilliant job of keeping it together. The set design is something that also shocked me, its so well done and theres so much of it. Im surprised that a film with so many varying locations has a set design so perfect. It never feels like just a set and all the 60-70’s american towns feel like the time they are supposed to. Whether its just the way it was filmed or it was solely down to the brilliant set design, i never felt like i was in the 1990’s it was like being transported back to the 60’s. Along with the soundtrack, which is really well put together as it shows the passage of time very well, (Something I imagine Richard Linklater took inspiration from for Boyhood) this film creates a brilliant all round technical marvel. Films like this are hard to come about and only a few manage to master every aspect and if it wasn’t for a couple of story elements that I wasn’t keen on then it would have been a full 5 star review.
Now as a I said I didn’t like all of the plot, and this is my only issue with the film. Robin Wright played her role really well, much alike the rest of the cast, but her story didn’t really go in the way I felt it should or really worked for her character. As a child we saw her damaged from her father’s abuse, we then see her grow apart from Forrest and try to live her own life however at every hurdle she constantly seems drawn to abuse. The last time we see her before she gets together with Forrest is as what I think is her being a prostitute (or just waking up somewhere random) with a black eye. The next scene she’s completely turned her life around and is perfect again (if a bit quiet) obviously this leads to her and Forrest getting together and having the baby Forrest Gump (whose played by Hayley Joel Osmont from tusk! (and the sixth sense)). But her old life is just forgotten about and I don’t like that. She’s constantly given the chance to choose the right options in life but always chooses the wrong ones. I know this is a bit harsh but I feel like we never see the consequences of that. She missed all her chances by her own accord and I think that the film could have still had the same impact and story (minus the wedding) as the actual film if she’d have died much earlier on. She could have still had a kid, Forrest could have still looked after him and the graveyard scene would have still had the same impact.
Here’s how I think if should have ended:
“Jenny had finally sent Forrest a letter back telling him that she got all his letters and she appreciates them and that she loved him, but not in the way Forrest loves her. This letter tells Forrest how she always appreciated everything he did and kept a scrapbook of all his achievements. The letter then has an address on it which forrest reads out to the person currently sat on the bench with him. They say “that’s only 6 blocks away” and he looks shocked and runs off From there everyone around him, the person on the bench and the entire town chants “Run Forrest run” (emphasing the surrealism of the film) but when he finally makes it she’s not there but her sister is and she has baby Forrest Gump. She tells Forrest that she died and instead of a wedding scene were Forrest sees the luteinant it’s a funeral and that way we still get the dramatic end gravestone monologue. It could have even ended with him putting the feather from the book on the headstone only for it to fly away and end with a shot of the gravestone next to the tree they grew up on”
Now obviously thats just a suggestion and not every film goes the way you want it too. But it just didn’t feel right that she made all the wrong choices and then in a way kind of got away with it all (it could be argued that the virus was the same as what I said). I also don’t like the fact that the leaving of the bench was so underwhelming and the whole of Jennys character development was thrown out the window. There are a couple of other random plot points that to me didnt seem necessary but it’s nothing big enough for me to rant about.
Besides that small point the rest of the film is near flawless. The consistent use of putting Forrest in famous incidents in time was very clever and always put a smile on my face. In fact nearly all of the film put a smile on my face and when there wasn’t a smile there was tears or shock or any emotion Robert Zemeckis could elecit out of me. I can finally see why the film is so popular and I will now be joining that group of people who are shocked when someone says they haven’t seen Forrest Gump.
Written by Dawson Roberts
Release date – July 6th 1994
Directed By- Robert Zemeckis
Written By- Eric Roth