I love the Academy Awards and last year I realized how few of the “Best Picture” winners I’d actually seen. So I made it a goal to see all 83 winners and blog my thoughts about them along the way.

Why did it win? Should another movie have won instead? Has it become a beloved classic or do many of you not even recognize the title? I invite you, my friends and guests, to comment along with me. Do you agree/disagree? I should be fair and place a SPOLIER ALERT on this blog since I’ll be writing about various parts of the movie. So read at your own risk…

I have often told people that I have movie amnesia… I can see a movie and forget all about it years later. So for that reason, I am re-watching the 27 I’ve seen before. That said, if no one visits or reads my blog and I basically perform the online equivalent of talking to a brick wall, that’s fine; if for nothing else, it’ll be my own reminder. Enjoy!

And the Oscar goes to…


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Forrest Gump, 1994











Rated PG-13

Ah… Forrest. Forrest Gump. How do I begin to write about a movie that has been ingrained so deep in popular culture? I bet if you stopped anybody on the street today, s/he could recite at least one "Gumpism" from this movie. How did a movie get away with SO many memorable phrases without being corny?

“Forrest Gump” is a drama with basically no plot. I’ve seen this movie several times before, but I still asked myself about an hour into it, “What’s this movie about??” It’s a series of recollections spanning four decades that Forrest walks us through while he sits on a bench waiting for a bus. He entertains at least 4 other citizens on that bench while he regales us of his life’s unbelievable journey for over two hours. Forrest is a gentleman with a lower-than-average IQ who proves to us that life is indeed like a box of chocolates… you never know what you’re gonna get.

Forrest’s hodge-podge of life adventures include fighting in the Vietnam war, shaking the hands of three US Presidents, discovering the Watergate scandal, becoming an international ping-pong champion, becoming a successful shrimp boat captain, and also somehow coming up with the smiley face icon and the catchphrase “sh*t happens”. Oh, and he’s the one responsible for Elvis’ famous moves.

Although the film invokes a few “come on!”s… there are some deeper and more meaningful moments to take away. While speaking at his beloved Jenny’s grave at the end of the film, he says “I don't know if we each have a destiny, or if we're all just floatin' around accidental-like on a breeze. But I, I think maybe it's both.” The computer-generated white feather that flows “freely” around in the air at the beginning and end of the movie obviously symbolizes Forrest’s free spirit. Just as the feather blows wherever the wind takes it, Forrest’s life experiences are just as random. I think the use of a feather is especially significant because of its delicate nature. Forrest’s spirit is a delicate one, but not breakable like a dried leaf; he is a resilient individual. Another awesome spark of symbolism I noticed this time around was the sight and sound of birds leaving the tree when Forrest walks away from Jenny’s grave- when she was young, she had prayed for God to make her like a bird so she could fly far, far away. Perhaps the most important thing to take away from the film is the impact that Forrest had on those around him. He is a selfless individual who stays devoted to his loved ones and influences friends and even passerby.

“Forrest Gump” won six awards from its thirteen nominations on Oscar night. This movie was up against “Pulp Fiction”, “The Shawshank Redemption”, “Four Weddings and a Funeral”, and “Quiz Show”. I’ve seen the first two additional nominations and figure this was a tough choice for the Academy. “Shawshank” is one of my favorite movies that I could watch again and again and I think it got snubbed by walking away with no wins. “Forrest Gump” also won Best Visual Effects and Best Film Editing thanks to its cutting-edge editing that allowed for impossible scenes (ie. Forrest meeting the Presidents, his presence at the first day blacks were allowed at school, and Gary Sinise’s amputated legs). And of course, Tom Hanks won for “Best Actor” which is to be expected. I found it fascinating when I learned that this role was first offered to John Travolta, who turned it down. Could you imagine? No worries for him though; he went on to make the cult classic “Pulp Fiction” that year.

FAVORITE SCENES:

Forrest decides to get up and run one day and it results in a cross-country running trip that lasts 3 years. I find this funny because there is nothing I hate more than running. I never FEEL like running. In fact, I often make fun of marathoners (to no one other than myself, really) because they PAY to run. I feel like telling them, “You know, I can run too. Except I can do it anywhere I want and for FREE.”



Forrest’s devotion to his friends in this movie is so moving. When fighting in Vietnam, he goes back into the strike zone and rescues his lieutenant and fellow soldiers because he couldn’t leave them to die.



LESSONS LEARNED:

A promise is a promise. If you make a promise, you better deliver. Forrest promises to join with Bubba to be captains of a shrimp boat and even though his friend perishes, he goes on to do it alone (and gives the money to Bubba’s mama).

Do want you want to do in life. Whether it’s running (ahem), becoming an all-star athlete, chasing after the woman you love, or being the best Mommy you can be, but your whole heart into it and do it to the best of your ability. Life is too short to put things off and you shouldn’t placate yourself with “it’ll get better” or “I’ll do it later”. Do it now. Be happy.

Everyone's life is valuable and has purpose, no matter the IQ. I take this lesson especially personally because I have a younger sister with special needs. There is no doubt in my mind as to the amount of positive impact she has had on her world, as I am thankfully directly affected. Because of charmingly unique individuals like her, there is always a need for compassion in this world.

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