Welcome to Earthling Cinema, where we examine the last remaining artifacts of a once-proud culture and try to understand what human lives were like before their planet was destroyed. I’m your host, Garyx Wormuloid.
Forrest Gump (1994) | Directed by: Robert Zemeckis | Starring: Tom Hanks, Robin Wright Penn, Gary Sinise
Written by: Ben Steiner
Analysis & Directed by: Jared Bauer
Starring: Mark Schroeder
Edited by: Ryan Hailey
Original Music by: David Krystal (http://www.davidkrystalmusic.com)
Opening Animation by: Danny Rapaport
Producer & Additional Artwork by: Jacob S. Salamon
Forrest Gump Analyzed By Aliens
Greetings, and welcome to Earthling Cinema. I am your host, Garyx Wormuloid. This week’s artifact is Forrest Gump, starring Earth’s own Tom Hanks, widely considered to be the poor man’s Jason Biggs.
Forrest Gump tells the story of a feather-collector named Forrest Forrest Gump, who likes to bombard people with his life story for no apparent reason, often not even noticing when his audience changes.
Although he is born a cyborg [leg braces], his robotic implants soon fall apart and he is able to pass as a human. At human school, he meets a miniature female named Jenny. He plays football, which is really easy and doesn’t require anything but running in a straight line.
After that, Forrest joins the Army on a whim. He saves everyone from getting exploded, but his friend Bubba dies of shrimp poisoning. For his trouble, Forrest gets a shiny new necklace [medal of honor]. He plays ping pong and becomes a national celebrity, because ping pong was America’s most popular and widely discussed sport, other than flasketball.
Forrest coincidentally reconnects with his old sergeant, Lieutenant Dan, right around the time they start a chain of restaurants together [picture of a Red Lobster]. Jenny comes back for a quickie and runs away again just for kicks [“I’m not running away”]. Forrest goes for a jog to think things over, then meets his son, marries Jenny, and buries Jenny. Finally, we get one last look at the true hero of the film, that goddamn feather.
Aside from the Martin Luther King assassination and the Abraham Lincoln assassination, Forrest Gump features nearly every significant social or political event of the 60s and 70s [Elvis, JFK, George Wallace, Watergate, Abbie Hoffman]. But whereas everyone around Forrest is engrossed by all that political mumbo jumbo [Doctor: “Your back is as crooked as a politician” – 5:00], Forrest is oblivious, singularly focused on the thing he best understands: love [“You don’t know what love is, Forrest”]. Yes he does, Jenny.
The defining characteristic of the film is its perspective. Through the eyes of an innocent simpleton, we see an idealized vision of Earth that ignores grim social realities like a pair of cinematic beer goggles. When Forrest talks about the Vietnam war, he’s all sunshine and lollipops [talking about the barbecue – 0:41:38, talking about the stars – 2:08:11]. With Jenny, he sees a pretty, pretty princess, even though in reality she’s a pretty, pretty big mess [“Her father was a loving man who always hugged his daughters,” “Her dream had come true. She was a folk singer” – 0:37:16].
Young Forrest runs through picturesque Southern landscapes, and, moments later, breezes past a prison chain gang like it ain’t no nevermind [0:17:42]. He has an entire conversation with Lieutenant Dan before the camera reveals he lost his legs [1:24:15] — Forrest still sees him as a whole man, apparently unaware that human beings can’t regrow their limbs. What’s more, Forrest may be raising a kid that isn’t his. Jenny has a history of emotional manipulation, and could have just decided to call him once she got sick and needed help. Her “get out of parenthood free” card, if you will.
Yet Forrest sees it as high romance, as does the audience. In fact, it is entirely possible that Forrest is an unreliable narrator, something I find utterly deplorable [glances around nervously]. Much of the story depends on his memory, which is idealized and perhaps a bit faulty [“It’s funny what a man recollects…” – 13:44]. In both instances where Jenny tells Forrest to “run, Forrest, run” [roughly 13:00 and 20:30], everyone is wearing the same clothes — except Jenny, who only buys designer shit. Either this is magical realism, or Forrest’s mind is conflating the two memories. While with his platoon in Vietnam, he recalls unnatural weather shifts [shot of rain suddenly turning to sunlight], made all the more suspect when immediately punctuated by an enemy attack. And if we can’t trust a man to accurately report meteorological activity, we can’t trust him for anything.
In any case, as the great philosopher Forrest Gump’s mom says, life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get. But if you look at the world through Forrest Gump’s eyes, you can bet it’s going to be sweet. And knowing my luck, it’ll probably have fu**ing coconut.
For Earthling Cinema, I’m Garyx Wormuloid. To replace your legs with titanium rods, click the subscribe button.