Ossus Library Index Drama Movie Index


Directed by Robert Zemeckis (1994, Paramount Pictures)
Starring Tom Hanks, Gary Sinese, Sally Field, and Robin Wright

The second half of the Twentieth Century leaves its mark on a mentally challenged man, from war to true love.

View Count: 5 times



5 stars

December 14th, 2002 on DVD

    A totally emotional movie, with incredible characterization, a plot that keeps us interested, and subtle but amazing special effects.

This is one of my favorite movies. It is satisfying in every sense of the word. I don't think there is another movie that brings tears to my eyes every time two characters meet on-screen. I don't remember crying the first time I saw this film. I guess growing into a loving relationship has brought it closer to home.

The main focus of the movie is Forrest's relationship with Jenny, and it is here that the movie really shines. The other stuff, interacting with history, was neat from a technical point of view, and was good for a laugh, but this is really a love story.

Their relationship is one of understanding right from the beginning. Forrest has an outside perspective on everything in life. It is either good or bad, with no in-between. This is why he doesn't accept excuses when Jenny is being hurt, and why he won't leave Lt. Dan to die in Vietnam. Jenny, on the other hand, has a troubled life, drifting from one home to another, from one guy to another, searching for she doesn't know what. From being sexually abused by her father (we never know what happened to her sisters), she accepts that as normal behavior from the other men she meets. She takes refuge in drugs and a life of "freedom". It takes her a very long time to see that she actually needs the stability that Forrest provides.

Forrest is a constant, never changing, always doing the good and moral thing, doing what he is told when it makes sense to him. He follows instructions amazingly well. So when he tells Jenny that he is being sent to Vietnam, the heart just breaks! It breaks again every time they meet; why, I don't really know. Maybe it's the knowledge of what happens later. When introduced to little Forrest, the heart simply melts, because the reaction is so beautiful.

The in-between stuff is what brings balance to the movie. While Forrest's relationship with Jenny is so sad, what he experiences in life is so funny, because he sees it differently from everybody else. Meeting all the famous people, where Tom Hanks was digitally placed in the picture, was played for as many laughs as we could get. Even much of Vietnam was funny, especially with Forrest spending time with Bubba. Afterwards, when Lt. Dan realizes that he has something to live for, after being touched by Forrest, we get more laughs. I loved Dan staring into the face of God on the mast in the middle of the hurricane. It was so funny! It was really touching when Dan appeared at Forrest and Jenny's wedding, with his new, magic legs.

Forrest's mother was amazingly played by Sally Field, so loving and tender. I love the way she was determined to have Forrest live as normal a life as possible, and was willing to do anything to see it through. I think she died satisfied that they both did the best they could, and that Forrest, though he was different, had enough life experience to live the rest of a normal life.

I think the movie was amazing for what it did. But it was also amazing for what it didn't do. I think portraying Vietnam through the eyes of Forrest only was a great idea, so that we didn't get bogged down through politics or other points of view. I am also glad that we didn't get any death scenes. Bubba came close, but at least we didn't see Jenny or Mamma slump over in their beds. We saw them before they got to their worst, which was an excellent directing choice.

There is so much that I could say about this movie, but I don't think it is necessary. I really don't know why I waited so long to watch it again, but perhaps it was worth it, because I had forgotten a lot of what went on, which possibly made it even more potent. Having it on DVD now secures it in my collection for a long time.

The extras on the DVD are about two hours long. They are not terrific, but are very respectable. The first feature is really more like an advertisement for people who haven't seen the movie. People tell us their opinions of what Forrest and Jenny are like. :earning about the invisible ping-pong match first hand was really fun, though. The visual effects featurettes were extremely well done. Ken Ralston, from ILM, is a great speaker, and introduces us to several sequences, including two that didn't make it into the movie. The sounds were equally interesting, but the speaker was rather annoying in his monologue. Finally, the trailers were actually very representative of the film, and while long, didn't give too much away. I was impressed.

As usual, I have not listened to either of the commentaries, which I assume will be very interesting whenever I get around to it.

This is a film that I will return to again and again. Its emotional core resonates with me, and it is well balanced by the comedy and the musical soundtrack, making it an incredible experience, even so many years later. It really did deserve every single Academy Award that it won, and many that it didn't.


5 stars

Also seen in September 1996 on Video


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