(Movie - 1994) Forrest Gump, directed by: Robert Zemeckis
(Reaction) Bus stop sessions with a box of chocolates by: Patrick Shane Diaz
Forrest Gump is the story of a mentally slow country boy from Alabama who narrates the story of his life to different people. The film though somewhat of a feel good movie, leaves viewers with an emotional slump due to the tragic story of Forrest Gump. The plot tends to show the protagonist as someone bound to live a life of sadness, discrimination and isolation.
The central theme of the film is actually an irony of how much a simple and innocent life such as Forrest Gump can affect the lives of so many people, much less his whole nation. From the people around him, whose lives would be less significant without him, to Elvis Pressley, to Bubba Gump, to Apple, to the Chinese, and to the bus stop people, Forrest Gump did not even notice the effect he had on them. But the question is, how could he have done such a magnanimous feat? It all boils down to the basic premise in society that states that everyone affects everyone, meaning Forrest affected his society, for they helped mould him, as well as gave him a chance to be a part of it.
The fascination of the story shows Forrest meeting various people, who later on help him build a business, become successful in life. These people are the ones that Forrest holds onto for support, for love and more importantly, for companionship. This is how Forrest Gump came to be the man that he is: the people affected him such that he changes their lives, and vice versa.
Forrest Gump portrays the typical country raised American, who, though given a slow mental thought process, comes to rise as a successful person without him even planning to do so. Being raised by his mother in a conventional church boy way, Forrest turns out to be a principled man, who later through his mother's upbringing, changes the lives of people around him for the better. Though having a great impact on the society around him, Forrest remains innocent, only knowledgeable to the basic human emotion: love. He may be successful by luck in life, yet in love, he is not.
However, though Forrest's story may be tragic, it can be seen that he is the epitome of the American dream, somewhat of an oddity though, since his restrictions in life did not affect the outcome of his life. His entrance into the military, characterized Forrest as a person with personal limitations and rules, as well as morals and values. His environment had failed to overshadow his innocence, that which characterized his life, for he saw things in black and white, right or wrong, never in mixture, always absolute.
The film shows that no matter how successful Forrest is in life, it is all irrelevant if he lived it without his one true love, Jenny Curran. Jenny is the typical American girl, who protects Forrest against bullies. She later becomes his protector, before she leaves to live the American dream. Contrast to Forrest's limited view on life, Jenny is more of a wild card, exploring various things, experiencing numerous causes, etc. She is the type to speak up and fight for what she believes in. This attitude is similar to Forrest's who fought for his loved ones, yet with Jenny doing the same without innocence and with a slight moral deviation. One scene in the film depicts her as the girl singing nude in a bar, while another shows her getting hit by one of her fellow partners in the cause. She understands that life is hard and not perfect, what could be, not what should be.
Jenny and Forrest share a love story through the film, which one might say is one sided, with Forrest loving Jenny unrequitedly and blindly. However, it can be seen that Jenny in truth loved Forrest more than he did her. This causes her to leave and come back a number of times, for she had to make herself ready to love Forrest, ready for her to be worthy of his love. That reason may be stupid and invalid, but it was necessary for their kind of relationship. This can be said as true because the love people usually have would not be enough for Jenny to sustain and love Forrest the way he needed to be. His mother would have been a tough act to follow. Jenny felt that she needed to stay away from Forrest for those moments so that he can focus his love and attention on others.
The mother of Forrest is the depiction of a perfect mother who would just plainly do anything for her son. She would sleep with the principal of a school just to get her son in despite his handicap. Forrest's mother became the inspiration, the genius, the motivation of Forrest in his early years, and his anchor to his innocence and values during the latter part of his life. His mother dies in the film, to depict that Forrest, and most people like him cannot always depend on other people, and that their life is hard and usually lonely. This was one of the lessons she made him learn early on, that one day she would not be there for him, wherein later Forrest will base his lifestyle.
The famous line in the film was one of the sayings of his mother, that
Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get. Many people subscribe to this saying made famous by the film. It is seen as true, for sometimes you may be up, sometimes you may be down. We do not know what life will give us, or what different mix of good or bad we get, just like a box of chocolates. The film depicts this perfectly. Forrest may have been mentally slow, or physically unfit, yet he had wealth, a loving mother, and a simple life. It may have been spectacular to others, but to the point of view of Forrest, it was very simple.
Lt. Dan was Forrest's commanding officer in the Vietnam War. Though after being saved by Forrest in an ambush, Lt. Dan survives, yet ends up having no feet. This can be seen as a humbling experience for him, for he once had the air of a commanding officer. Later on, Lt. Dan works with Forrest on the Bubba Gump Shrimping Company, wherein they find themselves the only fixed ship after a hurricane. Later on, the money they make, Lt. Dan invests in Apple, making himself and Forrest financially stable for life.
As it can be seen, Lt. Dan had everything, lost it all in the war, and then got back on his feet. The fact that he did not have feet was a very brilliant irony such that it shows that one does not need feet to get back up. Humility, determination and hard work were all that it took for Lt. Dan to turn his life around. This was something that he learned from Forrest, something he became very much grateful for.
Bubba was a black who became the best friend of Forrest in the army. They planned to do the Bubba Gump Shrimping Company together, but Bubba died in the war. Bubba was like the black version of Forrest, for he was also mentally slow, very innocent, humble, simple. This shows that even though Bubba and Forrest may be the same in personality, their fate was different, so as to further illustrate the box of chocolates analogy.
One string of scenes showed that Jenny came back and Forrest proposed. Jenny then slept with Forrest to prove that she loved him even though she decided not to marry him, for she believed it would be hard for both of them, and because she felt she had not earned nor deserved the love yet. Forrest starts running after Jenny leaves him the morning after they make love. This he does for 3 years.
This running can symbolize the determination and perseverance of Forrest, and more importantly, that he is a human who feels. This run was his way of getting over the incident, and because by running he thought about nothing but the run. This run of Forrest symbolized the healing process, the getting over, the time and distance one does reach in order to let go. It symbolizes Forrest's innocence and simplicity that a simple run without stopping makes him forget.
As the story telling of the film is nonlinear, but more of a flashback, the bench storytelling can be seen as a symbol for the assessment and turning point in Forrest's life. As in a bus stop, one changes vehicles, switches routes, stops and waits, or simply decides to continue the journey. Forrest stops and assesses his life, and tells it to the people there, total strangers. This symbolizes the fact that Forrest was at his turning point, since he was caught in the decision to either man up and see Jenny, or decide to go home. This was the importance of this scene, for his story being told, the opinions of the people who listened, and moreover the decision that Forrest made here, would be the plot for the end of the story.
Since Forrest chose to show up at Jenny's invitation, and found out he had a son, Jenny and Forrest chose to move back to Greenbow and get married. Yet the question was, did Jenny finally deserve the love of Forrest? Did she choose to marry him just so that their son would be taken care of? It can be seen that they both really did love each other, and that Forrest finally felt that his life was complete with Jenny in it. However, since Jenny dies, Forrest later feels the loneliness once more. He may have his son, but one day he will live a lonely life. Jenny was his one and only, he would never love again. It is tragic that this is bound to happen, though not depicted in the film, just implied.
The final scene shows Forrest sitting alone in the rock along the road, most probably to wait for his son to come home. A feather floats in the wind as the final credits play. This feather can mean so much. It can represent the randomness of life, the effect of society as we move to its currents, or to destiny, chance. Some related the feather to Jenny as she wanted to be a bird and fly away.
However, the white feather can also symbolize Forrest himself, how a simple object such as a feather, can fly up and reach great heights. It symbolizes the simplicity and the intent he has in life. This feather complete, and perfect in shape symbolizes the Forrest has lived a full life having experienced the love of Jenny. The white feather symbolizes the innocence and simplicity of Forrest, his morals, values, disabilities, and more, that never held him back in life.
The feather being Forrest, this illustrates the overall theme of the film. Everyone, as well as the events that unfold, become a thread in the stalk of the feather. Forrest being the stalk, makes up the feather by holding together the different threads (people, events etc). The threads in return make up the feather, for there would be no feather without the threads. These people and events around Forrest make him what he is, and thus able to reach the great heights he is meant to attain.
Forrest Gump got the girl, the cash, and yet he doesn't even realize how lucky he is. Yet it could be vice-versa, in which he thinks that he is just lucky, but it's actually his hard work that got him there.