Forrest Gump (1994)
Directed by Robert Zemeckis
Based on the novel by Winston Groom
Screenplay by Eric Roth
Starring: Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, Gary Sinise, Sally Field
Forrest Gump (Hanks) might not be the most intelligent man, but his resilience has helped him to lead a unique life. Despite all of his different experiences, there is something missing. As he continues to stumble into the historic events of the sixties, seventies, and eighties; Forrest is after Jenny. His love for her has existed since they were children, and it’s driven him through many challenges. As Forrest says, “I’m not a smart man, but I know what love is.”
Author Winston Groom (As Summers Die) wrote Forrest Gump in 1986. The book was not a huge success, selling roughly 30,000 copies prior to the making of the film. The book was adapted by Eric Roth (The Insider), who took the relatively unknown story and brought it to life. The film was directed by Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future), who earned an Oscar for Best Director. The movie also earned the Oscar’s top prize, winning Best Picture.
Film critic Roger Ebert said, “I’ve never met anyone like Forrest Gump in a movie before, and for that matter I’ve never seen a movie quite like Forrest Gump.” This is a great way to explain the unique qualities of this fascinating story. The writing had the challenge of placing Forrest Gump in the right places at the right time, without making it seem too convenient. Eric Roth accomplished this, and much more. The minor details and major events of the story are written in a way that touches almost every generation of people in the audience. In addition, the popular culture references add a lot to the authenticity of the film. For his work, Eric Roth earned an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.
The visual work in this film is equally impressive. The combination of great camera work, wonderful sets and locations, and digital effects came together perfectly. The film went on to earn Academy Awards for Best Editing and Best Visual Effects. This in addition to nominations for Best Cinematography, Best Set Decoration, and Best Make-up. From the beginning of the movie the visuals are essential to the story, bringing to life the events that make this such a good film. It is especially interesting to see the archive footage used to bring Forrest Gump into contact with some of the modern historical figures of the United States.
The acting in this movie is incredible. Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips) earned his second Oscar in as many years, joining Spencer Tracy as the only other actor to do so. (Hanks had won Best Actor for Philadelphia the previous year.) Hanks really brought Gump to life, with a set of mannerisms and a unique way of speaking that made him likeable. He also gave his character a sense of intelligence that is not affected by his cognitive disabilities. In addition to Hanks’ great performance, the film also features incredible work by Robin Wright (The Conspirator), Gary Sinise (The Green Mile), and Sally Field (Lincoln). Sinise was also nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for an incredible portrayal of the troubled Lieutenant Dan. Wright and Field are also great in their performances in this one.
In addition to the numerous awards mentioned above, the film was also nominated for Best Score, Best Sound, and Best Sound Effects Editing. All of these little details came together as one of the most interesting films of the last 25 years. The acting, technical work, and the incredible story come together as a micro-history of the United States during decades of intense change. If you’re a fan of the stars, I highly suggest seeing this one. If you already have, this is one worth watching over and over. The film has everything, including drama, comedy, action, and even a little history. I give this one 5 out of 5 stars.