Forrest Gump breaks every rule of film making yet touches the audience in such a way that the movie transcends being a hit and becomes part of the general culture
Not often, but occasionally, a film comes along that breaks every rule of film making yet touches the audience in such a way that the movie transcends being a hit and becomes part of the general culture. Forrest Gump is such a film. There is no real plot, no villain just a series of moments indelibly imbedded in our collective consciousness.
Forrest Gump begins with a simple enough effect but it contains the power of the film. A feather drifts upon the wind, blown by the breeze. It lands at the foot of a unassuming man sitting at a bus stop. This is the start of a powerful, human emotional story. Forrest (Tom Hanks) has an IQ below what is considered normal. While all the doctors and educators told his Momma that he would live a limited life, Mrs. Gump (Sally Fields) is determined to see to it that her son exceeds all their expectations. Through a combination of being able to run real fast and being in the right place at the right time Forrest Gump affects all those around him and influences history. All of life for Forrest Gump is filtered through three things, God, Momma and his one friend Jenny (Robin Wright Penn). Jenny befriends Forrest on their first day of school and they remain life long friends although the paths they take are completely different. He loves her in the purest sense possible even though Jenny’s life encompasses being a topless singer, a drug addict and party girl. Then there is Lt. Dan, Forrest’s commander in Viet Nam, sure that his destiny is to die in battle like most of the men in his family, Dan loses his legs but is saved by Forrest Gump. At first there is resentment on Dan’s part that turns to true friendship because of Forrest’s unconditional hope. In all the little tales told in this film nothing really changes Forrest Gump, he is one of the most innocent character ever in film.
Tom Hanks is absolutely perfectly cast in this role as Forrest Gump. I cannot think of any other actor that would have done justice to this character. He has the almost child-like sense of wonder and joy no matter what life brings to Forrest. Rather than attempting to overplay the role Hanks seems to go with the flow, drifting through this character life the feather that symbolizes Gump. This role demonstrates just how versatile Hanks is as an actor. With such award winning films to his credit as Apollo 13, Philadelphia, and Saving Private Ryan there is no role that this man cannot play in the best possible way. Penn as Jenny brings a lot to the character. She goes from the hippie girl, to fallen angel to drug addict with ease. You can actual see her body language change is scenes with Forrest. She reverts to a little girl again, safe in his presence, trusting implicitly in his innocence. Then there is Gary Sinise as Lt. Dan. Here is an actor that can also take on anything. From his start in the Steppenwolf theater as actor and director Sinise knows how to deliver to the audience. He takes acting the craft that many talk about but few achieve. Last but certainly not least is Fields as Momma. Ironically in tha last time she appeared with Hanks she was his love interest. The apparently remained friends over ther years since the interaction between the two is endearing.
With such a stellar cast and nontraditional story you need someone at the helm to bring it all together. Robert Zemeckis directs this classic with style, grace and sensitivity. According to the documentary in the special features disc he is not the type of director that gives free reign to the cast. What is in the script is spoke on film. While that would inhibit many actors with a cast like the professionalism on both sides of the camera shines through. Zemeckis allows us to view the world through Forrest’s eyes. Even in the war scenes there is a beauty present. He also pays a great deal of attention to the details of every shot. Every time I watch I see something missed previously. I had a copy of Forrest Gump on 4:3 VHS and I missed a lot. With the widescreen version the world open ups before you.
This two-disc set is far better than most special editions out there. The 5.1 audio is a bit disappointing, for those that enjoy a good sub woofer work out but the audio is generall clear and provides a reasonable sound field. The anamorphic 1.85:1 video is amazing clear. The second disc is a real treat. There is a hour plus documentary focusing on each aspect of the film making process. A look at the many special effects used in the movie including some you may not have realized was CGI,. The ping pong match, Forrest running and the homage to Birth of a Nation. There is also an deleted scene of Forrest and Martin Luther King Jr. Forrest Gump uses special computer effects not for loud explosions and monster but to reach the most human feelings we posses. This is a classic, a must have for anyone that loves a good story.Review by Doug MacLean of hometheaterinfo.com
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