Monday, July 7, 2014


“Life is like a box of chocolates…”
This month marks the 20th anniversary of Robert Zemeckis’ FORREST GUMP.

Fresh off the success of his immensely popular BACK TO THE FUTURE trilogy of films, director Robert Zemeckis FORREST GUMP was loosely based on Winston Groom’s novel. The story unfolds several decades in the life of Forrest Gump, a dim-witted and somewhat slow native of Alabama, who witnesses and sometimes accidently influences some of the defining moments in the latter half of the 20th century.
The role of Forrest, who despite a slow IQ was athletically superior and fiercely loyal to the people he loved, was first considered to be filled by John Travolta and Bill Murray. The role went to Tom Hanks, who at the time of the film’s release was the reigning Oscar winner for Best Actor; having won the previous year for his role in PHILADELPHIA. The rest of the excellent cast was rounded out by Gary Sinise, Robin Wright, Sally Field, Mykelti Williamson, and a very young Haley Joel Osment.

Director Robert Zemeckis shot the film in and around authentic locations, and by using the most-excellent services of Industrial Light and Magic, was able to create the eye-popping and landmark visuals of Hanks’ character interacting with famous figures in history. A comprehensive soundtrack of pop and rock hits helped to pinpoint specific time periods throughout the film, and Alan Silvestri added a touching score.
The film was a major success. FORREST GUMP would earn over $677 million worldwide during its theatrical run, and would eventually win Best Picture at the Oscars…along with Best Director, Best Visual Effects, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Film Editing. As icing on the cake, Tom Hanks would win his second consecutive Best Actor award; becoming only the second actor at the time to accomplish the feat. The film would be selected by the Library of Congress in 2011 for preservation in the United States Film Registry, and it appears on many of the American Film Institutes’ Top Lists. As a film saturated in American culture of the past, FORREST GUMP would ironically become a part of pop culture…eventually inspiring a themed restaurant (Bubba Gump Shrimp Company) which would eventually expand to multiple worldwide locations. The soundtrack of rock and pop hits would eventually become one of the top selling albums in the United States.

There are a lot of elements to admire about FORREST GUMP; so many to choose from that it is no wonder that the film is able to reach so many people. The look at history, the music, the technological innovations…for starters. But what really makes the film succeed is that the life story of Forrest Gump, as told on film, unspools like a folk hero out of legend; the type of stories that you tell your children to learn them a lesson or two about life. FORREST GUMP is heavy on the nostalgia, but it is also heavy on heart, which brings us one of the most endearing characters in cinema history.

“…You never know what you’re gonna get”.

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