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Forrest Gump

3 Ratings: 3.0
A movie directed by Robert Zemeckis

The title character leads viewers through an accidental travelogue of American social history from the early 1960s through the present in this revisionist fable. Vietnam, desegregation, Watergate, and more are presented from the perspective of Tom Hanks's … see full wiki

Tags: Movies, Dramas
Cast: Sally Field
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Release Date: 1994
MPAA Rating: PG-13
1 review about Forrest Gump

Ignorance is Bliss

  • Feb 24, 2008
Pros: Restores faith in life and humanity

Cons: Can be a wee bit sentimental

The Bottom Line: Take Forrest Gump for what it is. Don't try to attach any hidden meaning to it.

Forrest Gump is a very unusual movie in some ways. It’s very difficult to pinpoint the presence of a particular theme. It may even be Forrest Gump has no theme and is merely a story. I also found it interesting that a movie could glorify living life in ignorance. That’s really what the main character is – ignorant. I hesitate to call him stupid, even though the movie officially defines him as stupid because his IQ is five points below normal. His understanding of the world is a little different and a little more literal than that of the rest of us.

Forrest Gump is the story of an unintelligent person who lives a very full life through a series of lucky and coincidental circumstances no deity could ever possibly fathom. Actually, a deity probably could fathom it. There appears to be some kind of unseen force at work in Forrest Gump, and ideas of faith and god are regularly mentioned. How lucky is he? His mother sleeps with a perverted school principal to keep him out of one of those “special” schools. He wins a scholarship to Alabama when a coach sees him running across a football field in retreat from some bullies. He goes to Vietnam and returns with his sanity fully intact. And he meets so many Presidents that as he tells his story sitting on a bus stop bench, he says “…so I was sent to the White House AGAIN to meet the President of the United States AGAIN…” It’s all ad nausaum for Forrest, just another day in his life.

Forrest Gump really gets interesting when it intersects through certain historical events. We see these events in a slightly altered way. When we first meet Forrest, he tells someone sitting on a bench with him he was named after an ancestor who was a civil war hero who after the war, dressed up in white sheets. He’s talking about the Ku Klux Klan, and he’s talking about it to a black woman. In Vietnam, Forrest actually appears to be stabilized by his own naivety. Forrest is there during the rally the day those nine black students were admitted to a white school for the first time. When one of the students drops her notebook, Forrest becomes an unwitting peacemaker when he grabs the notebook and gives it right back to her. The historical angle puts a very interesting twist into the movie, but it doesn’t let the movie forget it’s telling Forrest’s story.

The seeds of love for Forrest Gump are planted early on. On his first day of school, he meets Jenny for the first time and is smitten at first sight. Jenny is only a supporting character herself, but she’s always there, in Forrest’s thoughts. The idea of Forrest Gump glorifying ignorance is born of the fact that Forrest has enough luck to be a ten-time lottery winner. This luck gets him through his life without too much trouble, and his low intelligence and accepting nature prevent him from seeing the gray spots. Forrest isn’t cut for agonizing moral dilemmas. Jenny, the product of a dead mother and a perverted father, is constantly questioning and getting swept up in whatever movements are coming along. It’s Jenny who becomes the hippy and the coke addict and falls prey to the casual sex and drug culture of the sixties and seventies.

Forrest also receives his worldview from his mother and his army commander in Vietnam, who also becomes his shrimp fishing partner. Bubba is also there to teach Forrest about shrimping, which Forrest successfully tries when his Army stint is up.

Forrest’s simplistic worldview sometimes results in subtle humor. In a scene when he and Jenny hide from Jenny’s father in a field, Jenny prays to be turned into a bird so she can fly away. Forrest explains in narration “Jenny didn’t turn into a bird that day…” In another scene, Forrest is running an endless run for no apparent reason other than he just felt like running. He runs across the country, collecting followers everywhere he goes. After over three years of just running, he finally decides it’s time to stop. The scene where he makes that decision is funny because it not only takes place in the middle of the desert, but also because he leaves his followers bewildered. One even asks “Now what are we supposed to do?”

Forrest Gump is fluff. It was directed by Robert Zemeckis, who specializes in fluff. But Zemeckis has made some very good fluff – Besides Forrest Gump, he’s also the director of Back to the Future and Who Framed Roger Rabbit? It’s also heartwarming fluff, so don’t let the critics’ sudden hatred of it keep you from seeing it when you feel down or lost.


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