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Monday, 15 August 2011

Greatest Film of All Time: Forrest Gump (1994)

Warning: SPOILERS AHOY!

I watch a lot of movies. I like about 20% of them, but only 5% really stick and leave a lasting impression. Once I tried to make a top 5 list of my favorite movies, and it was so hard that I dropped the project before I could narrow down the top 20 movies I came up with.

But the moment I saw Forrest Gump in 2009 (15 years after its release), I knew I had my new favorite movie, and I bet it stays that way for a very long time. Naturally, it’s a book adaptation and according to a friend of mine the book (by Winston Groom) is quite amusing.

Now, let’s see what elements really made a difference in Forrest Gump.


1. Outstanding performances.

Tom Hanks is one of my all-time favorite actors. He didn’t just play the star-struck lover of Meg Ryan in the 90’s. He also played in The Terminal (2004) where he is a stranded tourist living on an airport, waiting for a war in his home country to subside, and in Cast Away (2000) where his only friend on a stranded island was a volleyball named Wilson. Most importantly, he’ll be remembered for being Forrest Gump, a young man with low I.Q. and great heart, who lived not one, but many lives in his lifetime. From accent to decorum, Hanks achieved perfection.

Robin Wright was equally adept at her part as Jenny, Forrest’s childhood friend and future wife. The supporting characters did the film justice as well. Lt. Dan and Forrest’s mom brought their own wisdom to the mix and made the film the cinematic equivalent of chicken soup for the soul. Those were real people on the screen. So real.


2. Special love story.

Forrest and Jenny were partners from the day they met in that school bus. They spent their whole life together and apart, and yet they always ended up finding each other, because Forrest only ever loved Jenny and Jenny only ever trusted Forrest. It's one of those stories that make you go 'aww' during the whole movie, NOT just the end. 

Remember, those are rare.

3. Strong morals.

Forrest Gump is a film riddled in strong lessons for life. But the most important one was presented in the form of the most memorable quote in the movie: “Stupid is as stupid does.”

While we’re busy talking, complaining, and planning our lives, Forrest was busy living his. He never turned on a promise and he took life one moment at a time. He gave his 100% to everything he did because he was unencumbered by everyday worries and fears of failure. In his mind, he was doing what his mama had taught him to do by saying: “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”

Toward the end of his lifetime, he had more stories to tell than the average person. He’d been a ping pong champion, a shrimp boat captain, gotten the Medal of Honor, met several presidents, ran across the USA, and come up with several well-known catch phrases, brands, and dance signatures in history.

And finally, he got to spend the rest of his life with the One.

4. Emotional resolution.

Although it’s kind of embarrassing to admit, I want to cry at the end of a movie (be it tears of joy or grief), unless it’s comedy or action. I want to be emotionally shaken and stunned at the resolution at the end. (I think this goes back to my deepest drive to live by extremes.)

And when--years after sleeping with his lifelong love--Forrest learned about his son, something amazing happened. This impervious man was brought down to tears asking the big question: is he smart or is he…? His whole life, Forrest stood up to people who called him stupid, but now he was terrified of having brought the same fate upon his offspring.

(I cry even just thinking about that scene.)

5. Timeless quotes.

Run, Forrest, RUN!


... and the others I just mentioned.


So if you’ve seen it once, go watch it again. If you haven’t… I’m sorry for spoiling it for you. Now go see it multiple times. It’s a sure fast recipe to get inspired. And remember…

You’re only as stupid as your actions.

13 comments:

SP Sipal said...

And you made me cry just reading your post and remember that scene. I loved Forrest Gump too. Such good writing and such emotional pulls.

Thanks for helping me remember a great movie while thinking about what made it so great. That's the best thing of watching movies now for me, is the analysis afterward. It can inspire me so! :-)

Paige Kellerman said...

I haven't thought about this movie in so long! My strongest recolection is learning the theme to this movie, on piano, by heart..LOL. I didn't even have lessons, I was just so moved by it, I wanted to learn to play it.

...and now I've dorkified myself completely.

Good post!

J. A. Bennett said...

This is one of my favorites too! Even though it's through the eyes of person with a less than average IQ we feel his pain in every sense. I haven't read the book, but I know the author wrote a squeal about the son. Anyway, great great movie, one I have loved for years. (The only draw-back was having the name Jennie - oh how many people yelled run, jenny, run at me I cannot count.)

traceyhansenwrites said...

This is one of the best movies ever made. It's one you can go back 2 again and again and still enjoy. It's timeless. I like how you broke it down and explained WHY it's good. : )

www.traceyhansenwrites.com

Marjorie McAtee said...

You sort of seem to imply that Forrest dies at the end? I don't think so, he can't be more than 40. I thought he just went ahead and raised his son.

Michael Offutt said...

You like Forest Gump over Avatar?

Over How to Train Your Dragon?

Over Titanic?

Over Finding Nemo?

hmmmm

Was it the way Tom Hanks said... "Jeeeennnnaaayyy...I know I'm not-a-smart-man..."

Lyn Midnight said...

@Susan Gotta love analyzing greatness. :)

@Paige Now that's inspirational!

@Jen He did? Now I'll have to read both books. And the story continues...

@Tracey Timeless is my favorite kind. &_&

@Marjorie Odd. I didn't mean to imply that! (He's not the one who dies.) Sorry. ;)

@Michael Yes. Maybe. (Haven't seen the Dragon one.) Perhaps equally as much as Titanic. Yes.

And yes. :D

Leslie Rose said...

Every time I see a floating feather I think of Forrest. My grown kids have never seen the movie. It's high time they did. Thanks for the reminder. Believe it or not, I have it on laser disk.

Marjorie McAtee said...

@ Lyn ~ No need to apologize, maybe I read it wrong. I've seen this movie umpteen times anyway -- it's soooo sad when Jenny dies. Forrest is tough, you know, he just rolls with the punches, he never spends a second feeling sorry for himself. I guess he's too smart for that. ;)

@Leslie Laser disk?! Those were the wave of the future, right? LOL

Michael Offutt said...

I think you should watch "How To Train Your Dragon" now that I know you haven't seen it Lyn. I think it is the best movie I saw in 2010...seriously. Go rent it. Like now.

Lyn Midnight said...

@Leslie Me too! The floating feather thing. <3

@Marjorie That's exactly it! I admire people who never give up, never wallow or complain... and also never hesitate to do what they want. Great. I need to buy more tissues.

@Michael Hold your dragons, Mike! Way ahead of ya. I've had it on a disc for a while. You'll hear from me when I finally see it. :D

Tiffany A White said...

FG was a great movie - great actors, great story, great morals, feelgood, sad, you name it. The music was great, the quotes will live on forever, and heck - even a restaurant was made famous (Bubba Gump). Great post!

James J Caterino said...

Has been one of my all time favorites ever since I saw it (3 times) in the theater in the summer of 1994. Alan Silvestri's beautiful score, the great work by Gary Sunise, the epic scope, the sweep, the emotion...I try to watch it on DVD every once in a while and it gets me every time.

Between Gump, Shawshank Redemption, and Pulp Fiction, 1994 was a heck of year for movies.