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Forrest Gump

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Forrest Gump
Robert Zemeckis I 1994 I USA 

One of the most extraordinary things about this film is the magic of it all. Needless to say, Forrest Gump is a magnificent movie, a film that both moves and amuses with its scenes and sheer cinematic power. Winner of 6 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Director, it grossed over 600 million dollars worldwide, and proved to be one of the most successful movies of all time, both with the public and the critics. One might wonder why all this occurred, but the answer is really quite simple: Forrest Gump is so fresh, original, imaginative and totally honest that it is impossible to look away.

 It tells the inspiring story of a simple-minded man from Alabama with an IQ of 75 called Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks), whose seemingly simplistic life throws him into some of the most important events in American history, even though he is not aware of the importance of them all. He becomes an acclaimed football player, meets president Nixon, goes to the Vietnam war (where according to him they were always looking for a man named Charlie), is witness to the Watergate incident and even becomes leader of an international shrimp company. At one point of the movie, he even becomes a national hero, having unceasingly run round America for more than two years for no particular reason. Since he was a kid, his mum (played by an impeccable Sally Field) has always been telling him that hes no different from the rest, even though his spine cord was more twisted than a politician. Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get, he learns from her, and that gives him hope. Sitting on a bench at a bus stop, he narrates his story to the people waiting for their bus to arrive while at the same time enthralling us in a truly magical story.

In the truest Capra sense, the film has a very positive and optimistic view on life. Of course, it also shows us the bad side of it; we contemplate people taking drugs and drinking alcohol, thinking of committing suicide and resorting to prostitutes. However, what the film does tell us is that even the smallest people can make a difference and that, despite all odds, good things can and do happen. Okay, so maybe this message has been used somewhere else before, but the clarity and sweetness it is portrayed with transforms it into something much more magical. The film is a tale of history, forgiveness, death, lost friends, broken families, memories, courage and sacrifice, and this collection of classic themes makes it so very real and uplifting.

Director Robert Zemeckis, who helmed such projects as Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, and the Back to the Future Trilogy, proves with this masterpiece that he can also do serious films and he does it all with passion and never-ending confidence. He pulls the greatest performances he can from all his actors; here, Tom Hanks, who already won an Oscar before working on this movie in 1993's Philadelphia, delivers one of the most sincere and utterly convincing performances I have ever seen. He makes the title character so empathetic that we, the audience, are able to feel his emotions and feelings with incredible ease. We identify with him, we share his loneliness and his problems, and that's an almost out-of-this-world thing because of its absolute incredibility. The supporting cast is also a standout with Gary Sinise giving an incomparable performance in the role of Lieutenant Dan and Robin Wright is excellent as Forrest's girl.

Making use of state-of-the-art special effects created by George Lucas's company, ILM (Industrial Light & Magic), the film contains many scenes in which we can see Forrest Gump interacting with popular icons of the 20th Century; thus we are able to observe John Lennon or president Kennedy talking to Forrest Gump and the result is a bunch of memorable scenes that are as outrageous as they are spectacular. When Forrest ventures into the heart of the jungle in Vietnam along with a group of troopers, a battle suddenly ensues and bullets fly by like stinging bees; and the special effects team ensure that were kept on the edge of our seat by portraying the hell that war is with breathtaking accuracy, using several shots of dismembering limbs and Napalm explosions to incredible effect.

Many things have been said about Forrest Gump, and I'm pretty sure that I could write about this film for ages but there's no denying that one of the most effective weapons in the film's armory is its brilliant music. The score of Alan Silvestri (Zemeckis's usual music composer) is fantastic. Suiting the mood of the film perfectly, it just could not get any better. Apart from that, thirty-two American songs were specifically chosen in order to convey the passing of time and to capture the feel of different époques, such as Elvis Presley's Hound Dog, amongst others. It contains some of the most memorable lines that I've ever heard, so it comes as no surprise that it is also one of the most quotable films I've ever seen. And the cinematography by Don Burgess is impressive, too; with swift and elegant moving camera shots he manages to wonderfully capture the beauty of the story.

Almost ten years on, Forrest Gump remains a classic film. Its ability to entertain, touch and amuse is, as I've already said, purely magical. This was the film that finally confirmed Tom Hanks as one of the most gifted and versatile actors of today's Hollywood and it also launched Zemeckis into the field of most talented directors working today. An unforgettable gem for the ages, Forrest Gump is a beautiful movie with a heart and soul that will captivate any true film lover. It rightly deserves its place as the best film of 1994 and is without a doubt one of the greatest of all time.

[90] 

Reviewed by Pablo Hernandez, 2003