How disheartening for someone to be surrounded by people whom constantly torment and ridicule them because they are slow.
In Forrest Gump, directed by Robert Zemeckis, we follow an Alabama man throughout his life. Forrest Gump is a dim man who has a heart of gold. He has to face many obstacles in his life, but ends up overcoming them. Forrest is present for many famous historical events: such as the Vietnam War, the Watergate Scandal, and parts of the Civil Rights Movement, but he could care less about that, because all he cares for is Jenny Curran (Robin Wright). Jenny is his love since childhood, and the most of the film is based on Forrest’s attempts to win her over.
The film opens with a young Forrest and his mother (Sally Fields), and follows Forrest as he deals with childhood bullies and how he and Jenny become best friends. He ends up joining the high school football team, because he was so fast. He winds up graduating college after playing football with the University of Alabama. After graduating, he enlists in the Army and meets Bubba (Mykelti Williamson). They become best friends, and Bubba tells Forrest his plan to get a shrimping boat. Both Bubba and Forrest are sent to Vietnam to fight. They meet Lieutenant Dan (Gary Sinise) who is in charge of their platoon. While in Vietnam, the platoon is attacked, and Forrest ends up saving some of his unit. Forrest saves Lieutenant Dan, and they both get sent to a hospital. He comes home after being discharged from the service, and goes to pay his respects to Bubba, and his family. He only hears from Jenny every once in a while.
Meanwhile, Jenny is trying to escape her past by doing drugs, sleeping with countless men, and drinking. Jenny ends up coming to stay with Forrest for a little while. Forrest asks her to marry him, but she will not. She leaves once again, and Forrest goes on a three year run. Jenny sees him on television and invites him to her house. Forrest learns that Jenny is ill, and that he has a son. Forrest and Jenny marry, and then Jenny passes away. Forrest is left to raise Forrest Jr. (Haley Joel Osment) by himself. The movie ends with Forrest and Forrest Jr., waiting at the bus stop for the first day of school, just like his mother did with him.
The theme of this movie is that people cannot escape their fate. Each of the characters has a fate that they cannot outrun. Jenny’s fate is to be with Forrest. She has known Forrest since childhood, and he has always protected her. Forrest protects her from the boys at college, in the scene when Jenny was at an all girls school, Forrest beats up a boy that Jenny was kissing in a car. He protects her when she was a “folk-singer” and pulled the men off of her while she was singing on stage. He also protects her when she was in D.C., and her boyfriend hit her at the Black Panther Party, then he beat up her boyfriend. In all of these instances, Forrest protected her, but Jenny left soon after. She hitchhikes after Forrest takes her off the stage, and she gets back on the bus with her abusive boyfriend.
Every time Jenny gets close to letting herself be with Forrest, she leaves. Jenny’s father molested her when she was a child, and her grandmother probably physically abused her. She starts to go on a downward spiral to escape her past. She tries many different drugs, such as: cocaine, heroin, and LSD. She is seen snorting cocaine at a club, and she smears the lines of cocaine before she tries to commit suicide. She is with a different man every time we see her and she is always on the run. She never stays in the same place, because she is never satisfied. She is searching for something that will take away her pain and suffering, but she cannot find it. She doesn’t believe that she is good enough for Forrest, and that is why she will not be with him. After she sleeps with him, she leaves once again. After she has her son, she doesn’t tell Forrest for a few years.
When she finally forgives herself, and moves on, she calls Forrest. She tells him that they have a son together, and she asks Forrest to marry her. When she asked him to marry her, that is the key moment when you can see how far she has come. You know then that she is ready to love, and to be loved by Forrest. You can see in the scenes where she is at work, and in her apartment, that she has settled down. She has a job, a clean home, and her appearance is even relaxed. She has a whirlwind journey to find peace within herself, and to find the capability to love Forrest.
Lieutenant Dan believes that his fate is to die in battle like his ancestors. For instance, Forrest narrates a scene where he explains that Lieutenant Dan has had a family member die in every single war. In the scene where Forrest’s platoon is being attacked in Vietnam, Forrest saves Lieutenant Dan after his legs have been injured. Lieutenant Dan wants Forrest to leave him there, but Forrest picks him up, and carries him to safety. Lieutenant Dan is livid that Forrest wouldn’t let him die, and he believes that Forrest has changed his fate. For example, in the scene where Forrest and Lieutenant Dan are in the Army hospital, Lt. Dan yanks Forrest out of bed in the middle of night, and yells at Forrest for saving him. Lieutenant Dan is angry with Forrest because he did not want to become an invalid. He was a strong and capable military man who has his world turned upside down. He now has to be bathed like a child, and that is extremely hard for him to bear.
Although Lieutenant Dan is angry with Forrest, he still is fond of him. In the New Years Eve scene where they are with the prostitutes, and one of the prostitutes calls Forrest stupid, Lieutenant Dan becomes very upset and yells “Don’t call him stupid!” He protects Forrest because he is a simple man, but he is also his friend. Lieutenant Dan has turned to drinking, and is a very unpleasant man to be around. His appearance is disheveled and unkempt. He is not clean-shaven nor does he have clean clothes. He has bottles scattered around his apartment, and questions God. In one scene, Lieutenant Dan asks Forrest if he has found God. Lt. Dan mocks the existence of God and is very angry about his situation. Lieutenant Dan has to deal with his own demons before he can forgive himself. He blames himself for the attack in Vietnam. He believes that he got his men killed, and he also has to deal with his own situation, his lack of legs.
Forrest and Lieutenant Dan go into the shrimping business together, and they have a hard time on the boat. Lieutenant Dan is still battling God. In the scene where the huge storm hits Louisiana, Lieutenant Dan is on the top of the boat taunting God. He dares God to kill him. After that storm, it seems like Lieutenant Dan has made his peace with God. He and Forrest separate for some time, but they reunite at Forrest’s wedding. Lieutenant Dan is now clean-shaven, and is wearing a suit. He is out of his wheelchair, and now has prosthetic legs. He now has a fiancé Susan (Theresa Denton), and looks much happier. He then thanks Forrest for saving his life, and he has now made his peace with God and Forrest. He realizes that his fate was not for him to die in war, but to live a happy life.
Fate cannot be avoided, and you can never outrun it. Both Jenny and Lieutenant Dan tried to escape their fates, but ended up accepting and appreciating how their lives have turned out. Both of them have to forgive themselves for events that had happened in the past. They have to look past all of the negative and destructive problems and behaviors that they had. Forrest Gump is a complex film that will be a classic for years to come.