Why is Forrest Gump such a powerful movie?
My youngest son and I were going to be home all alone for the evening so we wanted to get some movies to watch. Tom Hanks was on the top of the list and both of us had Forrest Gump on our minds. We had been quoting Forrest who was quoting his ever wise mother saying “Life is like a box of Chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.” So we were so happy that the movie store had the movie in stock.
Within 5 minutes of the darn movie beginning I was crying like a baby already and through much of the movie I was moved so deeply that my son would be hearing sniffles from me. Even this morning I woke up thinking of the movie and I was moved to tears again. So that raised the question in my mind what in the world is it about that movie that is so darn powerful? What makes the movie so moving to me and a few million other viewers? It the paragraphs that follow I think I have come up with a few ideas of why the movie is so powerful for me and probably for you also.
Forrest is treated badly by so many
Right from the start we see that Forrest is different, he is slow and then he is also in those stupid leg braces. He does not have a father in the house so he has so many strikes against him. Because of these things he is teased by all the kids. I think that is a universal experience for all or at least most of use. No matter how gifted or awesome you are, we all have those days where the world is against us. Nothing goes right. We feel so all alone. That is the way of the world so often and it is so painful. But through all this Forrest perseveres. He can do this because of the incredible support of his super star mother and the deep friendship of his one friend, his most special friend Jenny. This is so insane I am moved to tears as I write this now. I am thinking through all of Forrest’s pain of being the teased and hated one, he has the most important ingredient to help him continue on. He had the support of someone who loved him deeply.
Forrest lives with freedom that we all wish for
This one kind of stems from the first one, being Forrest was on the outside of society teased and hated, he did not have to care what people thought of him. So in so many ways that makes him incredibly free. He is not moved at all by what people think, he is only moved by that inner voice of doing the things that are right. Of course that voice is so often times the voice of his loving mother and then of Jenny. So he lives a life of no fear of others, no fear of the crowds and no fear of getting accepted or rejected. Living this life of no fear is a life of perfect freedom. But do you notice what the life of no fear brings? Living of life of No Fear brings Forrest many successes in life. He become a football hero, a military hero, a business success, he meets many presidents and best of all he becomes a great friend to those who need a great friend. This is such a huge life lesson. Fear is a killer, Freedom to do what we are meant to do is complete liberation, it is life and Forrest lived a real life.
Forrest is brave
So if you live a life of no fear there can be a character trait that is built that is incredibly attractive. That trait is of course the trait of being brave. Forrest could go to college even though he was not mentally gifted. He could go off to the military and leave the protected environment of his mothers love. Forrest could become very close friends with a colored man even while living is times of such great racial prejudices. Forrest could run into the heat of battle to save many of his comrades without a single thought of his own life. Forrest could meet president after president and think nothing of it without any need to try to show that he was better than was. And Forrest could love Jenny even after she let him down again and again and again. Forrest was brave like we all want to be.
Forrest loves like we wish we could love
This point is the most important point for me. Many of use want to really love but our regular selfish nature gets in the way all the time but Forrest Gump gets it, he loves with all his heart and he does not care about the pain it may case. I think the first example of that is his friend the shrimp fisherman (Bubba) while in the army. There were no thoughts of race or differences. It was all about friendship, love and commitment. Forrest was willing to give his life for him. And even after Bubba died, Forrest lives up to his commitment to buy a shrimping boat and go into business with his now dead friend. If you remember in the end he gives much of the profits from the business to Bubba’s family. Can you say totally selfless?
Intertwined into this shrimping business is Lt Dan, the man that hates Forrest for saving his life when he had the destiny to die bravely on the field of battle. Forrest feels the anger of his friend but he loves him anyway. Of course this constant strength of Forrest eventually softens the heart of this worldly vile man and there is another person that owes their life to Forrest Gump
And then there is Jenny, the most beautiful thing in the world to Forrest. Jenny had a terrible home life and was abused by her father and as you can expect she was very messed up. Even though she loved Forrest deeply for being the incredible friend and strength in her life, she kept running and running do more and more to destroy her life. And Forrest was her continual cheer leader, her continual rock and savior. He would always take her back in a completely accepting way again and again and again. And finally like the prodigal son, she comes home to live and die with Forrest. But not before she gives him Forrest Jr. The most beautiful thing is Forrest’s life again.
So can you tell me that you don’t wish you could love like Forrest?
I guess after looking at all this, there is not wonder why I am moved very deeply by the movie. Yes of course it is a comedy. Yes of course life does not always work out that way but I think many if not most of use wish we were much more life Forrest Gump. And yes, it is ok to cry.
BTW check out what Gary Sinise (Lt Dan from Forrest Gump) is doing with the Lt Dan Band