By Stefanie Shears (Hurstbridge, Victoria, Australia)
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“Stupid is a stupid does” says Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks) as he discuss his relative level of intelligence to a stranger while waiting for a bus. Robert Zemeckis’s intriguing, award winning movie Forrest Gump is one of the most memorable and most creative movies the public has ever seen. It follows the life of a simple man that accomplishes great things, in each case, far exceeding what anyone imagined he could do. His “mama” teaches him the ways of life and leaves him to choose his destiny. This proves to be somewhat easy for Forrest, who manages to become a part of every major historic event between 1950-1980 in America. You could say that Robert Zemeckis’s screen play is a comedy, or more drama-love story, or maybe fictional drama, but no genre can describe the fictional deep hearted tenderness that you get when you watch this film.

However this is not a heartwarming story about a mentally retarded man says Robert Heimlich. … The movie is more of a retake of American times, as seen through the eyes of a man who lacks cynicism and takes things exactly as they are. Tom Hanks’, Oscar winning performance is breathtaking, he takes Forrest Gump’s character and makes him so dignified and straight ahead that the complicity of his life was portrayed quite simply.

Forrest starts his story by thinking back to his “first pair of shoes”. A decision made by his mother to fix his poor posture to put him in braces. After being criticised for the braces his mother tells him, “Don’t let anybody tell you they’re better than you, if God intended us all to be the same, he would’ve given us all braces on our legs.” Although Forrest does not understand quiet what his mother says at the time, these words become his affirmation in life.

We witness young Forrest stepping onto the morning school bus for the first time, immediately the children judge his abnormalities and Forrest is not welcome to sit anywhere on the bus. Without a word Forrest turns and accepts this, until he spots, as he states “The most beautiful angel he had ever seen,” Jenny. His true love ( to which we find out later on). Growing up Forrest and Jenny are like “peas and carrots”

However whilst Forrest life sticks to a straight path, Jenny’s is somewhat different again to Forrest, growing up in an unstable home with a drunk alcoholic father and no mother. Jenny goes on a parallel Road of American history and experiences the counterculture. Growing up in an unstable home with a drunk alcoholic father, after her dreams of becoming a singer fall apart she gets involved in psychedelics and flower power, anti-war rallies, drugs and needles of the 1970s. Thus explaining her rebellious acts and disappearances from Forrest throughout the movie. Despite Jenny’s way of life Forrest doesn’t despise this at all, proving to love her from the very start, even naming his shrimp boat “Jenny”.

After college, Forrest life becomes a continuous gag of good luck. He becomes Gump the medal of honour war veteran in Vietnam, Gump the ping pong champion at the Olympic Games. Gump the shrimp boat captain, Gump the millionaire stock holder and Gump the man who runs across America and retraces his steps.

Zemeckis’s ingenious magic using special effects allows him to create the tour of American history placing Gump within them. Forrest stands next to the schoolhouse door with George Wallace, he teaches Elvis how to swivel his hips, he visits the White House three times, he’s on the Dick Cavett show with John Lennon, and in a sequence that has you rubbing your eyes with its realism, he addresses a Vietnam-era peace rally on the Mall in Washington. Special effects are also used in creating the character of Forrest’s Vietnam friend Lt. Dan (Gary Sinise), who quite convincingly loses his legs.

His charming, so patiently sincere and so damn nice personality makes you begin to accept how the world revolves to him. Even though many parts are debatable and sometimes unjust. We never really understand how serious Gump is to life, of course, since Gump’s philosophy seems to be contained in the idea that “life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.” His low level IQ of 79 puzzles the audience and argues his level of realisation and certainty to the events and things that happens to him. Not so, he does understand everything he needs to know, and the rest of the movie suggest it is just surplus. The movie suggests because of the label that is put on him as being “different” that Forrest is not a smart man. Truth is that he is. His intelligence cannot be defined. Each event that happens he cannot help being the hero. His smart acts of kindness are what makes his label un-relevant. He saves his wounded platoon by carrying them out one by one, helps people through problems when he ran across America and even understands the importance of love.

There is so much to this movie that, it is nearly impossible to explain it all at once. Gump will appeal to adults more than children, but everyone in general, because you can make of it what you will. It’s deeply conservative film that takes you on an emotional journey ending with the death of Jenny, who dies of what can be identified as Aids.

What is most heartwarming is that, to his surprise Forrest is blessed with a beautiful child. These last moments are very emotional for Forrest and the audience is invited to experience the loving bond between father and son. It is only then when we realise that Forrest Gump’s true destiny was to be a father. Ending with Little Forrest hopping on the bus at the same spot he did at the start of the movie. This is truly extraordinary movie.

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