Reviewed September 3rd, 2001 by Brian White
There’s been an awful lot of ink spilled over Forrest Gump. This movie clicked with the public like nobody ever expected, and the film and phenomenon have been dissected ever since. Siskel and Ebert even hosted a special half-hour about why the movie was so popular and why so many people kept flocking to it. There was also critical backlash against the movie, partly because it was competing against Pulp Fiction for the Oscar that year. Gump was seen as a safe, feel-good movie compared to the edgier fare of its competition. This is an injustice that time with hopefully repair.
I will provide an insight into why I think people enjoyed the film so much. In school, we had to write a story about ordinary life viewed from an alien perspective. This meant that you had to describe things in a very unique way, because the speaker in the story had no frame of reference. A chair would become a “posterior placement object,” or something like that. In Forrest Gump, we have an alien perspective of events that are very familiar to us. Gump’s observations and rationalizations of the world and events of recent American history come with a freshness and innocence that people really appreciate.
Is this the story of the American Dream? Can a very simple man live so large, and get as much out of life as Forrest does? Is life as random as a box of chocolates, or is there a fate that guides Forrest through his remarkable life? Is Forrest’s complete lack of cynicism what saves him from the dangers of this world? Certainly other characters in the film find less than prosperity when they abandon Forrest’s way of life: Lt. Dan and Jenny are the examples. Maybe Forrest’s America is Norman Rockwell’s America. It’s different, but preferable.
One last question? Why so long for the DVD? Tom Hanks lays his heart out in this role, and the movie is too special to have waited this long.
I really shouldn’t complain about the lovely, 2.35:1, anamorphic transfer, but bear with me. I expected a little more lushness from the movie. It is beautiful, but I think it could have been better. There are a few blemishes here and there. The colors are nice, and the transfer is quite detailed at times.
The 5.1 Dolby Digital mix is a little flat. Certainly, it adds to the story telling, and the warmth of the film. I really didn’t feel surrounded by the mix. I believe that this film could benefit from a more active surround mix. The score should be all around you, and invite you into the experience. That isn’t the experience on this disc.
The two-disc set boasts quite a few extras. There are two commentaries, one from Director Robert Zemeckis, with Steve Starkey and Rick Carter, the other with producer Wendy Finerman. I found Finerman’s commentary to be quite sparse. There are screen tests with the actors. The tests with Haley Joel Osment as Forrest Jr. were quite cute. There are behind the scenes looks at the scenes where Hanks is placed into archival footage, and some interesting deleted scenes of this nature. There is a documentary about the film, done at the time, and a few documentaries about production design, sound design, the evolution of the film, etc.
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