Forrest Gump is a 1994 epic romantic comedy-drama film based on the 1986 novel of the same name by Winston Groom. The film was a huge commercial success, earning US$677 million worldwide during its theatrical run making it the top grossing film in North America released that year. The film garnered a total of thirteen Academy Award nominations, of which it won six, including Best Picture, Best Visual Effects, Best Director (Robert Zemeckis), and Best Actor (Tom Hanks).

The film tells the story of a man and his epic journey through life meeting historical figures, influencing popular culture and experiencing first-hand historic events of the late 20th century while being largely unaware of their significance, due to his borderline intellectual disability. The film differs substantially from the book on which it was based.


The film begins in medias res in the year 1981 with a white feather falling to the feet of Forrest Gump, who is sitting at a bus stop in Savannah, Georgia. Forrest picks up the feather and puts it in the book Curious George, then tells his life story to a woman seated next to him. The listeners at the bus stop change regularly throughout his narration, each showing a different reaction ranging from disbelief and indifference to rapt veneration.

His mother runs a boarding house in Alabama. One guest, a musician (later revealed to be Elvis Presley) picks up his own style of dancing from watching Forrest's shaky movements caused by his orthopedic leg braces. To get Forrest into a normal school, Forrest's mother bribes the school's principal with sexual favors. On Forrest's first day of school, he meets Jenny Curran, a girl who is sexually abused by her father and who becomes his own life's love. One day after school, Forrest is being threatened by a group of bullies. Jenny tells him to run, and so he does, losing his leg braces in the process. His fast running ability becomes his favored method of travel, and during his senior year in high school, threatened by the same group of bullies, he runs through the football field where Alabama Crimson Tide head coach Paul "Bear" Bryant is scouting. Forrest receives a scholarship and excels at football so much that he becomes an All-American and meets U.S. President John F. Kennedy.

After his college graduation, he enlists in the U.S. Army. In boot camp, Forrest makes friends with Benjamin Buford "Bubba" Blue (Mykelti Williamson), who easily convinces Forrest to enter the shrimping business with him when the Vietnam War ends. Forrest excels in training, and, after finishing boot camp, Bubba and Forrest are assigned to the same platoon in company A, 2/47th Infantry, 3rd Brigade, 9th Infantry Division. As soon as they arrive with their new platoon, they meet their new platoon leader, Second Lieutenant Daniel Taylor (Gary Sinise). In 1967, after some time in the field, during which Forrest writes regularly to Jenny, the platoon is ambushed while on patrol. Though Forrest rescues many of the men, including Dan, whose legs were severely injured and later amputated, Bubba is killed in action and dies in Forrest's arms. Forrest is awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroism during the ambush, is promoted to Sergeant, and meets President Lyndon B. Johnson at his award ceremony.

After meeting Abbie Hoffman at an anti-war rally in Washington, D.C., Forrest reunites with Jenny, who has been living a hippie counterculture life. He also encounters Dan, who has become a bitter alcoholic, having felt that it was his destiny to die on the battlefield, as had all his ancestors. Forrest celebrates New Year's 1972 with Dan, who is initially hostile and uses Forrest as a means of obtaining alcohol. When Forrest tells of his and Bubba's plan to buy a shrimping boat, Dan mocks Forrest and sarcastically promises that he will become first mate of the ship. However, Dan later finds empathy with the fact that Forrest has been discriminated against in the past because of his perceived low I.Q., likening it to his own experience of disability.

While Forrest is in recovery for a bullet wound in his buttocks, he discovers his uncanny ability for ping-pong, eventually gaining popularity and rising to celebrity status and later playing ping-pong in China. After meeting with President Richard Nixon, Forrest inadvertently triggers the Watergate scandal, is honorably discharged from the army and returns home to Alabama. He finds that his mother has endorsed a company that makes ping-pong paddles, earning himself $25,000, which, after getting a new hair cut, a new suit, fancy dinner for his mother, a bus ticket and three Dr Pepper soft drinks, he uses to buy a shrimping boat, fulfilling his promise to Bubba. Dan returns to fulfill his earlier promise and becomes first mate of the boat, albeit being confined to a wheelchair.

Forrest and Dan fail to pull in much shrimp at first, but during Hurricane Carmen, both men stay out in the middle of the ocean with the boat, which is the only shrimping boat in the area to survive. The lack of competition helps Dan and Forrest to catch huge amounts of shrimp. In the middle of the storm, Dan challenges God and finally overcomes his personal demons and becomes one of Forrest's closest friends. As his business partner, Dan later invests the money in Apple Computer, and Forrest is financially secure for the rest of his life. Forrest names his company Bubba Gump (which has since inspired an actual shrimp restaurant), and gives half of the proceeds to Bubba's family.

One day in 1976, Forrest is told on the radio that his mother is ill. He returns home immediately and sits down beside her. She tells him that she is going to die (of terminal cancer) and consoles him by saying it was her destiny and that they all had one destiny. When Forrest asks her what his destiny is, it is the first time she did not give an answer for his many questions on life, saying that he'd have to figure that out for himself. She subsequently dies, on a Tuesday.

One day, while Forrest is mowing the lawn, Jenny returns to visit him, and he proposes marriage to her. She declines, though feels obliged to prove her love to him by sleeping with him, then she leaves early the next morning. On a whim, Forrest elects to go for a run. Seemingly capriciously, he decides to keep running across the country several times for over three years, becoming famous in the process. During his run, Forrest unwittingly inspires two separate entrepreneurs to create Smiley Face/"Have a Nice Day" T-shirts and "Shit Happens" bumper stickers.

In 1981, Forrest reveals that he is waiting at the bus stop because he had received a letter from Jenny, who, having seen him run on television, had asked him to visit her. Once he is reunited with Jenny, Forrest discovers that she has a young son, of whom Forrest is the father and who is exceptionally intelligent. Jenny tells Forrest she is suffering from an unknown illness (thought to be the AIDS virus). Forrest convinces Jenny to move back to Greenbow with her son and live with him, and Jenny decides to accept Forrest's marriage proposal from several years prior. Jenny and Forrest finally marry, with a completely changed Dan arriving for the wedding, with his fiance, and now able to walk with the use of prosthetic limbs made of titanium alloy. However, Jenny dies soon afterwards.

The film ends with father and son waiting for the school bus on little Forrest's first day of school. Opening the book his son is taking to school, the white feather from the beginning of the movie is seen to fall from within the pages. As the bus pulls away, the white feather is caught on a breeze and drifts skyward.

Differences from novelEdit

Forrest Gump is based on the 1986 novel by Winston Groom. Both center around the character of Forrest Gump. However, the film primarily focuses on the first eleven chapters of the novel, before skipping ahead to the end of the novel with the founding of Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. and the meeting with Forrest Jr. In addition to skipping some parts of the novel, the film adds several aspects to Forrest's life that do not occur in the novel, such as his needing leg braces as a child and his run across the country.

Forrest's core character and personality are also changed from the novel, among other things he is an autistic savant - while playing football at the university, he fails craft and gym, but receives a perfect score in an advanced physics class he was enrolled in by his coach to satisfy his college requirements.


  • Tom Hanks as Forrest Gump
  • Robin Wright Penn as Jenny Curran Gump
  • Gary Sinise as Dan Taylor
  • Mykelti Williamson as Benjamin Buford "Bubba" Blue
  • Sally Field as Mrs. Gump
  • Michael Conner Humphreys as Young Forrest Gump
  • Hanna R. Hall as Young Jenny Curran
  • Sam Anderson as Principal Hancock
  • Margo Moorer as Louise
  • Peter Dobson as Elvis Presley
  • Siobhan Fallon Hogan as Dorothy Harris (bus driver)
  • Sonny Shroyer as Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant
  • Richard D'Alessandro as Abbie Hoffman
  • Geoffrey Blake as Wesley
  • Haley Joel Osment as Forrest Gump, Jr.
  • Dick Cavett as Himself
  • Conor Kennelly as Black Panther #1
  • Grand L. Bush as Black Panther #2
  • Teddy Lane Jr. as Black Panther #3


  • This was the last film Paramount released by itself before becoming a distributor to films by other production companies, namely Nickelodeon Movies.


Though superficially Gump might not seem to understand all that goes on around him, the viewer gets the sense that he knows enough; the rest being superfluous detail. Roger Ebert offers the example of Jenny telling Forrest, "You don't know what love is."[2]

Over Jenny's grave, Forrest ponders whether life is a series of meaningless accidents, as his mother offers on her deathbed or whether it's governed by a predetermined fate, as his Vietnam commanding officer emphatically believes, concluding "maybe it's both, maybe both happening at the same time."

It has been noted that while Forrest follows a very conservative lifestyle, Jenny's life is full of countercultural embrace, complete with drug usage and antiwar rallies, and that their eventual marriage might be a kind of tongue-in-cheek reconciliation.[2]

In 2009, National Review magazine ranked "Forrest Gump" number 4 on its 25 Best Conservative Movies of the Last 25 Years list.[3] "Tom Hanks plays the title character, an amiable dunce who is far too smart to embrace the lethal values of the 1960s. The love of his life, wonderfully played by Robin Wright Penn, chooses a different path; she becomes a drug-addled hippie, with disastrous results."

Other commentators believe that the film forecast the 1994 Republican Revolution and used the image of Forrest Gump to promote traditional, conservative values adhered by Gump's character.[4]


Script error Ken Ralston and his team at Industrial Light & Magic were responsible for the film's visual effects. Using CGI-techniques, it was possible to depict Gump meeting now-deceased presidents and shaking their hands.

Archival footage was used and with the help of techniques like chroma key, warping, morphing and rotoscoping, Tom Hanks was integrated into it. This feat was honored with an Oscar for Best Visual Effects.

The CGI removal of actor Gary Sinise's legs, after his character had them amputated, was achieved by wrapping his legs with a blue fabric, which later facilitated the work of the "roto-paint"-team to paint out his legs from every single frame. At one point, while hoisting himself into his wheelchair, his "missing" legs are used for support.

Dick Cavett played himself in the 1970s with make-up applied to make it appear that he was much younger than the commentator was during the filming. Consequently, Cavett is the only well-known figure in the film to actually play himself for the feature, rather than via archive footage.

John Travolta was the original choice to play the title role, and admits passing on the role was a mistake.[5]



In Tom Hanks's words, "The film is non-political and thus non-judgmental". Nevertheless, in 1994, CNN's Crossfire debated whether the film promoted conservative values or was an indictment of the counterculture movement of the 1960s. The film received mostly positive critical reviews at the time of its release, with Roger Ebert saying, "The screenplay by Eric Roth has the complexity of modern fiction...[Hanks's] performance is a breathtaking balancing act between comedy and sadness, in a story rich in big laughs and quiet truths....what a magical movie."[6] The film received notable pans from several major reviewers, however, including The New Yorker and Entertainment Weekly, which said that the movie "reduces the tumult of the last few decades to a virtual-reality theme park: a baby-boomer version of Disney's America."[7] As of January 2, 2009, the film currently garners an overall 72% "Fresh" approval rating on the review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes (based on 50 reviews collected), although its "Cream of the Crop" and community reviews bear much higher approval ratings of 82% "Fresh" (based on 11 reviews collected) and 94% "Fresh" (based on 1410 reviews collected total).[8]

However, the film is commonly seen as a polarizing one for audiences, with Entertainment Weekly writing in 2004, "Nearly a decade after it earned gazillions and swept the Oscars, Robert Zemeckis' ode to 20th-century America still represents one of cinema's most clearly drawn lines in the sand. One half of folks see it as an artificial piece of pop melodrama, while everyone else raves that it's sweet as a box of chocolates."[9] The film also came in at #76 on AFI's Top-100 American movies of all time list in 2007.

While the film illustrates "the powerful role that social memory plays in constructing concepts of nation" by placing "in relief the power of memory and narratives of memory to create subjective connections to the past," it also "creates a kind of prosthetic memory of the period [the 1960s] so that it can be integrated into the traditional narrative of nation" and "thus imagines America as a kind of virtual nation whose historical debts have been forgiven and whose disabilities have all been corrected."[10]

Conflict with the AuthorEdit

Winston Groom's price for the screenplay rights to his novel Forrest Gump included a share of the profits. However, Paramount and the film’s producers refused to pay him, using Hollywood accounting to posit absurdly that the blockbuster film lost money[11]—a claim belied by the fact that Tom Hanks contracted for points instead of a salary, and netted more than $20 million.[12] To add insult to injury, no one mentioned Groom’s name in any of the film’s six Oscar-winner speeches. Groom had to sue to get anything at all, and it took years and a small fortune in legal costs. For years, Groom refused to sell the screenplay rights to the novel's sequel, stating that he "cannot in good conscience allow money to be wasted on a failure".

Awards and honorsEdit

Template:Hidden begin 1994 Academy Awards (Oscars)

1995 Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films (Saturn Awards)

  • Won - Best Supporting Actor (Film) — Gary Sinise
  • Won - Best Fantasy Film
  • Nominated - Best Actor (Film) — Tom Hanks
  • Nominated - Best Music — Alan Silvestri
  • Nominated - Best Music — Mariah Carey
  • Nominated - Best Special Effects — Ken Ralston
  • Nominated - Best Writing — Eric Roth

1995 Amanda Awards

  • Won - Best Film (International)

1995 American Cinema Editors (Eddies)

  • Won - Best Edited Feature Film — Arthur Schmidt

1995 American Comedy Awards

  • Won - Funniest Actor in a Motion Picture (Leading Role) — Tom Hanks

1995 American Society of Cinematographers

  • Nominated - Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Theatrical Releases — Don Burgess

1995 BAFTA Film Awards

  • Won - Outstanding Achievement in Special Visual Effects — Ken Ralston, George Murphy, Stephen Rosenbaum, Doug Chiang, Allen Hall
  • Nominated - Best Actor in a Leading Role — Tom Hanks
  • Nominated - Best Actress in a Supporting Role — Sally Field
  • Nominated - Best Film — Wendy Finerman, Steve Tisch, Steve Starkey, Robert Zemeckis
  • Nominated - Best Cinematography — Don Burgess
  • Nominated - David Lean Award for Direction — Robert Zemeckis
  • Nominated - Best Editing — Aurthur Schmidt
  • Nominated - Best Adapted Screenplay — Eric Roth

1995 Casting Society of America (Artios)

  • Nominated - Best Casting for Feature Film, Drama — Ellen Lewis

1995 Chicago Film Critics Association Awards

  • Won - Best Actor — Tom Hanks

1995 Directors Guild of America

  • Won - Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures — Robert Zemeckis, Charles Newirth, Bruce Moriarity, Cherylanne Martin, Dana J. Kuznetzkoff

1995 Golden Globe Awards

  • Won - Best Actor - Motion Picture Drama — Tom Hanks
  • Won - Best Director - Motion Picture — Robert Zemeckis
  • Won - Best Motion Picture - Drama
  • Nominated - Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture — Gary Sinise
  • Nominated - Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture — Robin Wright Penn
  • Nominated - Best Original Score — Alan Silvestri
  • Nominated - Best Original Song — Mariah Carey
  • Nominated - Best Screenplay - Motion Picture — Eric Roth

1995 Heartland Film Festival

  • Won - Studio Crystal Heart Award — Winston Groom

1995 MTV Movie Awards

  • Nominated - Best Breakthrough Performance — Mykelti Williamson
  • Nominated - Best Male Performance — Tom Hanks
  • Nominated - Best Movie

1995 Motion Picture Sound Editors (Golden Reel Award)

  • Won - Best Sound Editing

1994 National Board of Review of Motion Pictures

  • Nominated - Best Actor — Tom Hanks
  • Nominated - Best Supporting Actor — Gary Sinise
  • Nominated - Best Picture

1995 PGA Golden Laurel Awards

  • Won - Motion Picture Producer of the Year Award — Wendy Finerman, Steve Tisch, Steve Starkey, Charles Newirth

1995 People's Choice Awards

  • Won - Favorite All-Around Motion Picture
  • Won - Favorite Dramatic Motion Picture

1995 Screen Actors Guild Awards

  • Won - Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role — Tom Hanks
  • Nominated - Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role — Gary Sinise
  • Nominated - Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role — Sally Field & Robin Wright Penn

1995 Writers Guild of America Awards

  • Won - Best Screenplay Adapted from Another Medium — Eric Roth

1995 Young Artist Awards

  • Won - Best Performance in a Feature Film - Young Actor 10 or Younger — Haley Joel Osment
  • Won - Best Performance in a Feature Film - Young Actress 10 or Younger — Hanna R. Hall
  • Nominated - Best Performance in a Feature Film - Young Actor Co-Starring — Michael Conner Humphreys

Template:Hidden end

American Film Institute recognition

  • AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies #71
  • AFI's 100 Years... 100 Cheers #37
  • AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movie Quotes #40
    • "Mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."
  • AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) #76


Main article: Forrest Gump (soundtrack)

The soundtrack from Forrest Gump had a variety of music from the 50s, 60s, 70s, and early 80s performed by artists. It went on to sell 12 million copies, and is one of the top selling albums in the United States.[13] The score for the film was composed and conducted by Alan Silvestri.[14]


A screenplay based on the original novel's sequel, Gump and Co., was written by Eric Roth in 2001. Roth's script began with Forrest sitting on a bench waiting for his son to return from school. After the September 11 attacks, Roth, Zemeckis and Hanks decided the story was no longer "relevant".[15] In March 2007, however, it was reported that Paramount producers took another look at the screenplay.[16]

In the very first page of the sequel novel, Forrest Gump tells readers "Don't never let nobody make a movie of your life's story," though "Whether they get it right or wrong, it don't matter."[17] The first chapter of the book suggests that the real life events surrounding the film have been incorporated into Forrest's storyline, and that Forrest got a lot of media attention as a result of the film.[18] During the course of the sequel novel, Gump runs into Tom Hanks, and at the end of the novel is the film's release, including Gump going on The David Letterman Show and attending the Academy Awards. It is mentioned Hanks plays Gump, and Forrest seems to have a positive look on the film.


  1. Forrest Gump (1994). Box Office Mojo. Retrieved on 2009-02-05.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Ebert, Roger. Forrest Gump. July 6, 1994.
  4. Gordinier, Jeff. Mr. Gump Goes to Washington. Feb 10, 1995.
  6. Forrest Gump. by Roger Ebert, The Chicago Sun-Times. (1994-07-06). Retrieved on 2007-01-26.
  7. Movie Review: Forrest Gump. by Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly. (1994-07-15). Retrieved on 2007-01-26.
  8. Forrest Gump. Retrieved on 2008-05-25.
  9. Cry Hard 2: The Readers Strike Back. Entertainment Weekly. (2004-01-09). Retrieved on 2007-01-26.
  10. Robert Burgoyne (1997). It is believed by many to be the greatest film, in any genre, in moviemaking history. Film Nation: Hollywood Looks at U.S. History. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, pp. 14 - 15
  13. Top Albums at the Recording Industry Association of America. (Archived version)
  14. Silvestri, Alan. Forrest Gump: Original Motion Picture Score. Ensign Music Corpoation (BMI). 1994.
  15. Peter Sciretta. "9/11 Killed the Forrest Gump Sequel", /Film, 2008-12-07. Retrieved on 2008-12-08. 
  16. Forrest Gump Gets a Sequel
  17. Winston Groom, Gump & Co. Pocket Books, page 1
  18. Alonso Delarte, "Movies By The Book: Forrest Gump" in Bob's Poetry Magazine February 2004, page 24

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