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July 1994


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
"Brian L. Tanner" <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 23 Jul 1994 20:37:32 EDT
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
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I know I'm new to this mailing list but from what I've read so far from what
people have said about Forrest Gump and from the two reviews that I have read
(Owen Gleiberman from Entertainment Weekly gave a C and the other was from a
local paper who didn't seem to particulary care for it either), it seems that
the general concensus is that the film isn't very good.
I know that there are critics who like it:  From the Critical Mass section in
Entertainment Weekly the grades went as follows:  Cinemascope (U.S.audiences)
A+;Roger Ebert A;Gene Siskel B+;Jami Bernard (Knight-Ridder Syndicate)
A;Carrie Rickey (Knight-Ridder Syndicate) B; Mike Clark (USA
Today)A-;combined with Owen's grade of C comes to B+.  I haven't had the
luxury of reading any of the positive reviews but I liked the film immensely.
 I just wanted to tell why I liked it and offer up some defense for what I
feel is a well done film.  Note:  what follows is entirely my opinion.  If
you must respond, please don't shoot me down for having one but rather think
about my points and then if you have a counter-arguement please respond
rationally.  I've been on the list long enough to see how a flame war can
flare up.
Anyway:  I think what the two critics' reviews that I did read missed the
basic point of the movie.  Forrest Gump is not so much about history as it is
about destiny.  Several characters speak of destiny in the movie.  His mom
says that it was her destiny to bring Forrest into the world.  It was Lt.
Dan's destiny to not die (though Dan believes it he was meant to die in
Vietnam).  At the end Forrest wonders if there is a destiny for everyone or
if we are all floundering (or something like that).  He thinks maybe it's
both.  I subscribe to the notion that we are all on this world for one
purpose or another, some pruposes big, some small.  If there is a God (and I
believe there is one of some sort) I believe that in the movie Forrest is a
tool to influence certain lives and set things in motion.
I've noticed that some people attack the movie for altering history, esp. in
the Wallace scene.  I didn't mind those little scenes so much, I bought the
notion that this is a separate world in which a man named Forrest Gump
actually exists (i.e. it is a MOVIE, not reality) and that this is what the
world would be like had Gump actually existed.  And did he really change or
influence the world?  Someone prove to me that at some point in Elvis' life
before he appeared on Ed Sullivan that he wasn't influenced by a little kid
with leg braces.  Or that someone didn't report flashlights in the Watergate
hotel from across the way.  A lot of the historic "events" were minor.  the
Kennedy incident could very well have happened in real life and we would
never remember something so trivial.  Later on, media events become a part of
the background, not something that Forrest actually causes, such as Reagan
being shot, or buying into Apple stock.  In each case I found it noteworthy
that Gump goes on to tell what happens to Elvis, Kennedy, Lennon, and so on.
 He tells us their destiny.
Destiny aside, Gump is also about human compassion, forgiveness, dedication
and tolerance.  Watch what concerns Gump and what doesn't; such as the
ranting of a Black Panther in his ear while his girlfriend is being abused or
the Wallace scene.  Jenny has run from Gump again and again but when she asks
to come back he doesn't hesitate to take her back.  He follows up on Bubba's
plans (and Dan stands by his word) and gives Bubba's mom her share.  I for
one, embrace, Forrest's wholesomeness over such violent flicks such as True
Lies or Blown Away.  Look at what Gump remembers fondly from his past
experiences (the beauty of nature).
I also enjoyed the theme of running.  I found it interesting to watch who was
running where, or from, or from who.  Running became a symbol for destiny,
just like the feather that floats at the beginning and end of the movie.  The
feather also stands for Forrest Gump and his, floating along and going where
the wind blows it, much like Gumps wandering life.
I apologize if it seems like I'm rambling but yes, I'll admit it, this film
moved me and made me think about people and destiny (couldn't you tell?)  I
thought the story was well written (all the history stuff takes a backseat to
a person's feelings and dreams), well acted, and well made.  I didn't find it
boring but very enlightening.  I'm going out on a limb here and now and
saying that it will recieve 8 nominations and take at least three home (place
your bets now and beat the rush).  Tom will take home his second oscar and be
the first two win two in a row since '36 or '37.
Sorry this got so long but thanks for your time and patience.
Brian L. Tanner
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