Thursday, October 28, 2010

Critical Essay on Forrest Gump

Essay on Forrest Gump Movie

"Life is like a box of chocolates...You never know what you're going to get" –says the main character Forrest in the beginning of the movie Forrest Gump. This very unusual quote that leaves a peculiar feeling in viewer’s mind. Forrest himself is a very interesting person. Although the readers and the viewers know that he doesn’t have an IQ of a “normal” human it doesn’t stop them from loving and understanding him, maybe even realizing how this “abnormality” gives him an uniquely positive perspective of life. During his life, Forrest becomes a football player, a war hero, and a successful businessman. However, he always stays true not only to his friends, family and believes but also to his love for Jenny Curran. There are many adventures that Forrest has to face during his life, and both in the film and in the book they are somewhat different, but no matter where he is or what he is doing he is always thinking about Jenny. Forrest takes part in Vietnam War and while saving lives of many people he gets wounded. In the hospital he meets another very important hero, Lieutenant Dan. The life of this character is so damaged by the war that he is unable to get it back. But even at this, as many would think, dead end situation Forrest helps him not only financially but also morally.

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Robert Zemeckis, director of Forrest Gump, chooses not to include several adventures that are present in the book and to change the character’s personality. However, the adjustments to the main heroes’s characters and the addition of several touching moments change the book into a heart breaking movie. The viewer of the movie might notice few changes to the characters such as Jenny, Forrest’s mother, Lieutenant Dan, and Forrest himself. Furthermore, the scenes such as the long run of main character, Forrest’s meeting with Dan, and especially the ending of the film change the plot and make it more touching.

There are many differences that Robert Zemeckis makes to the characters. Some of the minor heroes were not included in the film because director chooses not to include several scenes. However, the most obvious change is made to Lieutenant Dan. This character is an intelligent, smart, but at the same time psychologically damaged by the war. The reader sees how his life of being a successful, self-confident history teacher transforms into something that Dan doesn’t want. At the same time in the movie it is hard to identify this sudden changes of Dan’s life and also hard to see his true spirit before the awful incident that made him loose his legs.

Furthermore, director chooses to change not only the appearance of the main character but also his personality. It seems as if in the book Forrest is much more smarter but at same time less innocent than he is in the film. This significant changes play an important role in the viewer’s perspective of Forrest. Also he is described as a big, tall, and a really strong person while in the movie the viewer would describe him as an average man. Jenny, and Forrest’s mother are the only two people that love Forrest the way he is. In the book, however, it seems as if Forrest’s mother doesn’t take him more than just an idiot. “How you gonna have a plan, Forrest?..You is a idiot. How is an idiot gonna have a plan?”(220) In the movie Robert Zemeckis decides to change that and makes her more confident in her son’s mental skills. However, his mental impairment doesn’t seem to bother Jenny, the love of Forrest’s life, who’s feelings toward Forrest evolve differently in the movie compare to the book. The viewer of Forrest Gump doesn’t know her real feelings and might even think that the main character is the person to whom she runs for a comfort and a place to stay until she is strong enough to run away again. This change certainly changes the viewer’s perspective on Jenny’s personality. These differences in characters certainly played a big and an important role in the choices of director. It is clear that from the book one gets a better and a more sincere view on characters and their lives. The selection of the characters is one of the most significant parts not only of the book but in the movie as well.

There are a lot of changes that director has made to make the story seem more real and interesting. In this book several scenes seem so unreal and absurd that the movie with them wouldn’t make the same impression on the viewer. The main change to the plot was made by the resolution of the movie when little Forrest, the main character’s son, stays with his father. This makes the story seem more hopeful and touching. Another scene is added to the film that makes the viewer connect even more to the character- the long run of Forrest Gump. While watching this moment in Forrest’s life it makes viewer think how he really feels. Also one should realize that maybe people stereotypes of different action made by people are not always right. Even before this all happens the young war hero meets with his friend, Lieutenant Dan, but this scene is changed in the movie which makes the entire plot different. Forrest didn’t save Dan’s “unwanted” life like it is stated in the movie, he meets him in the hospital and not one time helps a young history teacher out of misery. Furthermore, as stated before, there are several adventures that were not included in the movie. As many would think, this is what makes the film Forrest Gump so original. The changes that the director makes changes the movie not always in a better way but all of them together are the things that made this film great.

The one scene that is not entirely different and that is considered a climax part is the battle where Bubba, Forrest’s good friend, gets wounded and dies because of that. The director of the movie uses several techniques to make a big impression on the viewer. By using high angle, he makes the viewer see how awful and horrifying the whole scene of war is and by doing so shows how small and weak the human being is as oppose to war and it distractions. He also uses trick props (special effects) to actually show the bombs fall and create fire behind the main character.

But these are not the only techniques that help set this scene, the viewer also hears a voice over to show that Forrest is telling the whole story and to make one connect even more to the character and the plot. This scene is very dynamic and the director uses it to show war in an action. It would be more touching and more eye appealing if he would use the stop motion animation and an asynchronous sound. However, all the choices that Robert Zemeckis makes help the creation of a horrifying scene that makes the viewer understand that life of the main character is not going to be the same after the war and what happened to his friend.

Forrest Gump is one of these movies that make one think about the meaning of life. The theme of the film is an admonition not to give up on life. The main characters simple way of looking at life makes the viewer realize that surrender is not the best choice that could be taken in life.

Forrest Gump makes a big emphasis on how life holds something in the future and nobody knows what lies ahead. By contrasting Forrest's life with the lives of those around him, and by showing how the passage of time brings solace to even the most embittered hearts, the movie underlines this theme. The feather that is present in the beginning and in the end of the movie shows that there is more to come and that life goes on. The director’s use of this element makes the viewer wonder and hope. It also creates a feeling of fulfillment after finishing viewing the movie. Even the choice of actors plays an important role in Forrest Gump. Tom Hanks does an outstanding job with helping the viewer see his feelings and thoughts of the main character. Often, music can be useful in establishing a mood, but Forrest Gump is not exactly that kind of movie. There are sequences when the music is required but the director decides not to have it (for example during the Vietnam battle, during which Forrest deserves to be a hero).

It is hard to distinguish which of the mediums tell the story more powerfully and more successfully. Both the movie and the book have something that makes them different and better than one another. If talking only about the characters and their personalities, it is clear that the book has more to them than the movie. The personality of Lieutenant Dan in the movie is repulsive while in the book he is the character that makes not only think but also sympathize with him. However, the adjustments that the director makes with Forrest Gump’s personality shows this character in a better perspective. Robert Zemeckis makes good choices about not having some of the scenes that are present in the book. This choices are the reasons why this movie became a big hit. Before I started reading this book I thought that this movie is one those that are better than books. However, I was only right in a way and I think that the book has its strong points as well. Several moments in the film are so memorable that it is unbelievable that in the book they were different or didn’t even exist. I was attached to the characters and their personalities and couldn’t stop reading about them. I would consider the film more heart touching and more real rather than the book. The ending of the movie promises the viewer something special while in the book it seems like there is nothing to aim for in the future. Forrest Gump is an inspiration to many different people all over the world and the story of a young “abnormal” person makes not only the book interesting but creates an amazing movie.

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