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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Forrest Gump


The film has been praised for many reasons, and criticized for being "overly sentimental."  I would like to comment on the two main characters in the film and by explaining their roles, also reveal how great of a film it really is.

The film shows us the world through 2 different perspectives:

1)      Forrest – seeing the world through someone challenged such as Forrest, allows us to see the events that we grew up in as a spectator, naïve to the gruesome and horrible ways not only the world has treated each other (the brutal and unnecessary event called the Vietnam war, assassination of many famous figures such as John Lennon and JFK for no apparent reason according to Gump).  Allowing us to view the world in the way Gump does allows us to see the unnecessary ways the world treats itself, which seemingly is for no reason, or as Gump says “no good reason at all.”  Not only do we see the world as it treats itself globally and politically but at a very human level as well.  Gump never understands why he is picked on, not fully anyway, nor why people do the things they do (abuse Jenny, throw rocks, and call him dumb).  When we see the world through Forrest's eyes, we see that the things we do are never really for any good reason (when Forrest runs across the country no one can understand why he would do it for no reason).  Ultimately the only thing that makes sense to him or motivates Forrest is his love for family (his mom) and Jenny.  Seeing the world and people in this way makes the viewer leave with a perspective that no other film I recall pulls off at such a vicarious and poignant level.  We feel as Forrest feels, that our troubles and quarrels are just as unnecessary as he sees them, yet they still exist and will continue to exist beyond our control, like how Jenny and his mother die.  

2)      Jenny – This perspective is paired with Forrest’s, juxtaposed and presented as the opposite view of the world.  Not ignorant at all but very much alive and attempting to understand every journey and take advantage of every dangerous path presented, if only to feel the true world as it is presented to her without ignorance (drugs, protest groups, playboy model, strip clubs, poverty, hitchhiking).  Even from a very young age (sexual and physical abuse) she is very much the opposite of Forrest in knowing the harshness or realities of life.  Jenny is the antithesis of Forrest, she is polarized in every way from gender to attitude.  When Forrest proposes to her, she refuses, insisting that he "doesn't want to marry [her]."  In this way she is insisting that Forrest doesn't want to become aware, or lose his innocence, for it is his innocence that makes him pure, successful and desirable.  Yet somehow, the two end up together in the end as she realizes that knowing the world for what it really is, is not how she wishes to see it at all.  The realities of the world are harsh and terrifying and for Jenny, they were the source of her death.  She chooses to end her life with Forrest, giving her prosperity to him.  She gives the most innocent part of her (her son) to Forrest in hopes that this will be a rebirth or a new life for herself, a life without knowing the real world and re-entering the innocence of a pure and happy life.  In other words, she proves that being ignorant to the world’s true, explored ways are how she not only wishes she saw it, but how she wishes her son to see it as well.  

Forrest Gump provides the viewer with a unique perspective of the world, a perspective of innocence and ignorance.  It’s ironic that Forrest overcomes the difficulties of challenges by being challenged himself.  It is his ignorance to pressures of life and innocence to the world that cause him to be successful.  He is so naïve to the things that Jenny knows and has experienced that his character becomes the enviable one.  Though “stupid is as stupid does,” Forrest proves not to be “stupid” at all, but the one character in the film that Jenny and the viewer wishes to be like and see the world as.

CONSENSUS
Rotten Tomatoes give this move a 72% rating

Zoom In Analysis will 
DISAGREE with this rating and give it a 9/10.  It's near perfect, one of the greatest films of all time.

1 comment:

Phillip Handy said...

Beautiful analysis! This is one of my favorite movies ever. I've even referred to it as a guide in my own life. I've often related to Forrest because he is not smart, but he is very wise - his heart is much more powerful than his brain.

I like how you framed the two perspectives as how we chose to see the world, and ultimately, see ourselves. We can either chose to see the good in everything and accept it, or see the bad in everything and try to conquer it. I think I'm going to go watch it again now! =)