Forrest Gump  

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"Presidential candidate Bob Dole stated that the film's message was "no matter how great the adversity, the American Dream is within everybody's reach.""--Sholem Stein


"In brief, Forrest Gump is another idiot-savant picture, in the commercially lucrative line of King of Hearts, Being There, and Rain Man; and like those movies, it's marred by sentiment and cant and much flattery of the audience. (A smart film hero, would risk offending the many Americans who now get angry if there's even a hint that they've been outclassed.)"--David Denby in New York Magazine - 18 Jul 1994

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Forrest Gump is a 1994 American epic romantic comedy-drama film directed by Robert Zemeckis and written by Eric Roth. It is based on the 1986 novel of the same name by Winston Groom and stars Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, Gary Sinise, Mykelti Williamson and Sally Field. The story depicts several decades in the life of Forrest Gump (Hanks), a slow-witted but kind-hearted man from Alabama who witnesses and unwittingly influences several defining historical events in the 20th century United States. The film differs substantially from the novel.

Principal photography took place between August and December 1993, mainly in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Extensive visual effects were used to incorporate Hanks into archived footage and to develop other scenes. The soundtrack features songs reflecting the different periods seen in the film.

Varying interpretations have been made of the protagonist and the film's political symbolism. In 2011, the Library of Congress selected the film for preservation in the United States National Film Registry as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

Visual effects

Ken Ralston and his team at Industrial Light and Magic were responsible for the film's visual effects. Using CGI techniques, it was possible to depict Gump meeting deceased personages and shaking their hands. Hanks was first shot against a blue screen along with reference markers so that he could line up with the archive footage. To record the voices of the historical figures, voice doubles were hired and special effects were used to alter the mouth movements for the new dialogue. Archival footage was used and with the help of such techniques as chroma key, image warping, morphing, and rotoscoping, Hanks was integrated into it.

In one Vietnam War scene, Gump carries Bubba away from an incoming napalm attack. To create the effect, stunt actors were initially used for compositing purposes. Then Hanks and Williamson were filmed, with Williamson supported by a cable wire as Hanks ran with him. The explosion was then filmed, and the actors were digitally added to appear just in front of the explosions. The jet fighters and napalm canisters were also added by CGI.

The CGI removal of actor Gary Sinise's legs, after his character had them amputated, was achieved by wrapping his legs with a blue fabric, which later facilitated the work of the "roto-paint" team to paint out his legs from every single frame. At one point, while hoisting himself into his wheelchair, his legs are used for support.

The scene where Forrest spots Jenny at a peace rally at the Lincoln Memorial and Reflecting Pool in Washington, D.C., required visual effects to create the large crowd of people. Over two days of filming, approximately 1,500 extras were used. At each successive take, the extras were rearranged and moved into a different quadrant away from the camera. With the help of computers, the extras were multiplied to create a crowd of several hundred thousand people.

Plot

In 1981, Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks) sits at a bus stop in Savannah, Georgia, telling his life story to strangers nearby. His tale starts about the childhood braces he wore around his legs. At Forrest's home, he meets Elvis Presley and teaches him a dance move, which Elvis later displays at a concert. On his first day of school, Forrest meets a girl named Jenny Curran (Robin Wright), with whom he immediately falls in love and whose life is followed parallel to his. Despite his below average intelligence quotient (IQ), his ability to run very fast gets him into the University of Alabama on a football scholarship. He ultimately becomes an All-American and meets President John F. Kennedy. While attending college he witnesses George Wallace's attempt to prevent integration at the school.

After graduation, Forrest enlists in the Army. He makes friends with Benjamin Buford Blue, nicknamed Bubba (Mykelti Williamson), who convinces him to be his partner in the shrimping business when the Vietnam War is over. He also meets Jenny again, who is now part of the counterculture movement and working as a stripper. In 1967, he and Bubba are sent to Vietnam, and after several months of patrolling with the 9th Infantry Division, their platoon is ambushed. Forrest is shot in the buttocks but rescues many of the men in his unit, although Bubba is fatally wounded and dies. Lt. Dan Taylor (Gary Sinise), the platoon's commanding officer, is also seriously wounded and loses both legs. He chastises Forrest for saving him, insisting that he would rather have died honorably on the battlefield than become a cripple. For his actions, Forrest is awarded the Medal of Honor by President Lyndon B. Johnson. While in Washington, he becomes swept up in an anti-war rally where he again meets Jenny. They spend the evening walking around Washington, but when the morning comes she leaves with her abusive boyfriend.

While in the hospital, Forrest discovers an uncanny ability for ping pong. He begins playing for the U.S. Army team, eventually competing against Chinese teams on a goodwill tour, sometimes referred to as Ping Pong Diplomacy. He goes to the White House for a third time to meet President Richard Nixon who provides him a room at the Watergate hotel. While there, Forrest witnesses a burglary and calls security, inadvertently exposing the Watergate scandal. He also goes on the Dick Cavett Show in New York City and talks with John Lennon, presumably inspiring him to write the song "Imagine". When leaving, he meets Lt. Dan, now an embittered drunk living on welfare. When Forrest tells Lt. Dan about his plans for a fishing business, the lieutenant replies jokingly that the day Forrest becomes a shrimp boat captain, he'll be first mate.

Forrest is honorably discharged, and uses money from an endorsement for ping pong paddles to buy a shrimping boat, fulfilling his wartime promise to Bubba. Lt. Dan joins him as first mate, citing his earlier promise. They initially have little success, but after Hurricane Carmen hits the Gulf states, their boat is the only one to survive. Business now booms and Forrest buys an entire fleet of shrimping boats; the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company becomes a household name. As a result, Forrest makes a lot of money, donating much of this to the local Gospel Church and giving Bubba's family a share of the profits. He leaves the company in the hands of Lt. Dan, who invests a portion of their wealth in shares from Apple. This provides Forrest with even more money while Lt. Dan, after having had an epiphany on the boat, forgives Forrest and thanks him for saving his life. Forrest returns home when his mother falls ill, and she dies soon afterward.

In 1976, Jenny returns to visit Forrest, and he eventually proposes to her. Although she declines she tells him that she does love him. They sleep together but she leaves the next day. On a whim, Forrest elects to go for a run and simply decides not to stop. Over the next three years, two months, fourteen days and sixteen hours, he runs coast to coast across the country several times, gathering a small following. Realizing that he had been running to try to make sense of his feelings for Jenny and the deaths of his mother and Bubba, he abruptly stops and returns home.

While finishing his story, Forrest reveals that he is waiting at the bus stop because Jenny has contacted him and asked him to visit her. Once they are reunited, he discovers they have a young son together, also named Forrest (Haley Joel Osment). She also tells him that she is suffering from an unknown virus. She proposes to him and he accepts. The three move back to Greenbow where they marry. While visiting her grave, Forrest sees a flock of birds fly overhead and remembers when he and Jenny were children and asked God to turn Jenny into a bird so she could "fly far, far away." On his son's first day of school, Forrest Sr. sits with his son at the bus stop. As the bus picks Forrest Jr. up and drives away, Forrest Sr. sits on the same tree stump that his mother did, watching a feather float into the air.

Soundtrack

The 32-song soundtrack from the film was released on July 6, 1994. With the exception of a lengthy suite from Alan Silvestri's score, all the songs are previously released; the soundtrack includes songs from Elvis Presley, Fleetwood Mac, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Aretha Franklin, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Three Dog Night, The Byrds, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, The Mamas And The Papas, The Doobie Brothers, Bob Seger, and Buffalo Springfield, Michael McDonald among others. Music producer Joel Sill reflected on compiling the soundtrack: "We wanted to have very recognizable material that would pinpoint time periods, yet we didn't want to interfere with what was happening cinematically." The two-disc album has a variety of music from the 1950s–1980s performed by American artists. According to Sills, this was due to Zemeckis' request, "All the material in there is American. Bob (Zemeckis) felt strongly about it. He felt that Forrest wouldn't buy anything but American."

The soundtrack reached a peak of second place on the Billboard charts. The soundtrack went on to sell twelve million copies, and is one of the top selling albums in the United States. The score for the film was composed and conducted by Alan Silvestri and released on August 2, 1994.





Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Forrest Gump" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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