When this great movie was released in the summer of 1994 I originally thought that it was going to be mostly a comedy. When I saw it, I knew that this movie was not only going to win the Academy Award for best picture and it was far more than just a comedy; this was a great drama that had moments of tremendous emotion unprecedented in my movie-going experience even to this day. Tom Hanks won for best actor for the second year in a row, having already won the previous year for Philadelphia about a gay man who was dying of AIDS. This picture also won for best director for Robert Zemeckis and best screenplay for Eric Roth , which represents the top four for all awards given by the Academy of Motion Pictures.
Probably the greatest parts of this movie include the empathy that you gain over the two hours for Forrest Gump who is mildly retarded and has physical problems with this legs that he eventually overcame. Despite Forrest’s mental disabilities he was able to go to college on a Football scholarship and excel as a running back and then inexplicably volunteered for the Vietnam War. During the movie, several flashbacks, where Forrest met President Kennedy and other famous people in history were shown that provided a humorous and different dimension to the film that I have never seen in any movie. Additionally, the empathy you feel for Forrest include his difficulty in making his childhood girlfriend his wife mainly because of his mental disabilities and her very bad childhood and as a result her dangerous lifestyle as a “flower child” . Forrest chasing Jenny is the central plot of the story and is the source of the best emotional scenes most especially the ending which was almost impossible to sit through.
In all my years of watching movies I have never had a worse experience as far as an emotional overload at the end of a movie, with the possible exception of “Terms of Endearment” , which came out in 1983. For those who have not seen this movie after almost 22 years, I will try to not give anything away, but there is a devastating death at the end that is unbearable to watch and the barometer I always use to measure any movie is audience reaction. At the end of this movie in the theater I was in, there was not a dry eye anywhere. The music, the emotion of the actors and at the very end a floating feather, which was symbolic of life was extremely well done but just made the whole ending so difficult to get through.
When it was all over, I remember having great difficulty getting out of the theater when it was time to leave at first because of the crowd and then because of seeing the emotional devastation in the eyes of so many people in the crowd. I also remember driving home being especially difficult because of the emotional roller coaster I had just experienced.
I have not seen Forrest Gump too many times after I saw it in July 1994 mainly because of the ending, but for those after 22 years who have not seen it, you owe it to yourself to see it at least one time, because you will never forget the experience.