I was twelve when Forrest Gump was released in theaters and I still remember walking to the mall with my mom to go and see it, how amazing the storytelling in the film was, the unforgettable characters and that awkwardness of being twelve and sitting next to your mother while Jenny takes off her bra and places Forrest’s hand on her chest. And to think Jenny’s roommate in that scene thought she had it bad! Since then I’ve only watched the movie once, I believe, and that was well over a decade ago, so revisiting it with its 25th anniversary release was something I was eager to do.
First and foremost, the movie holds up wonderfully, as Forrest Gump remains an iconic film character that Tom Hanks gave into fully. The movie is two hours and twenty minutes and the first half of the film flies by with Gump telling his story to various strangers while he waits for the number nine bus to arrive. It remains a wonderful way of taking us through the journey of his life without just starting at the beginning and growing up with him. By having Gump tell his story we’re more connected with him, and the fact that the strangers at the bus stop keep rotating out over the course of his tale without him starting over fits incredibly well with how Forrest thinks, as he’s just happy to be talking to whoever will listen.
It’s been a long time with lots of incredible advancements in technology, yet the work in Forrest Gump to place Gump in various historical moments, be it meetings with multiple Presidents of the United States, or having him show up at multiple well-known rallies within footage captured from that day, still looks great. Sure it may not be as impressive as it was 25 years ago, but the fact that it still looks pretty natural speaks volumes to how much work was put into it over two decades prior. The same goes for Lieutenant Dan (Gary Sinise) and his amputated legs. I remember watching behind the scenes footage a long while back about how they were always sure to place things like a table or other objects close by so that when Sinise adjusted himself on the ground before getting back into his wheelchair he’d swing himself around right beside a table, which wouldn’t be possible if he had legs because they’d bang into it. It’s things like this that seem small but are actually major reasons as to why this movie is so impressive from a technical standpoint.
The story itself also stands up quite well, though it does slow down a bit heading towards the final act once Forrest decides to start running across America for three plus years. It’s doesn’t wreck the story at all, but it doesn’t really fit into the flow of things as much the rest of the story more tightly intertwines. That aside, it’s really the characters that make this film so easy to watch, as Gump is incredibly easy to listen to and become emotionally attached to, and Bubba (Mykelti Williamson), Forrest’s best friend he meets when he joins the army is also quite charming in his love of everything shrimp. Then there’s Lieutenant Dan, who is a wonderful supporting character to Forrest, as Dan is a positive man turned somewhat pessimistic after losing his legs – and also what he believed to be his destiny – during the war in Vietnam. So watching him and Gump interact as the film progresses, and how Gump’s mindset helps Lieutenant Dan recalibrate his mindset is a wonderful journey on its own.
Then of course there’s the overall love story that is Forrest and Jenny (Robin Wright.) I’m sure there are still mixed feelings to how this relationship works, as Jenny is a damaged child who grows up wanting to be free of men that hurt her, yet she continuously finds herself pulled to them while pushing away Forrest’s love at the same time. It’s an interesting love story that Forrest’s stories always find a way back to, yet it is just a piece of what this movie is about, and that’s this incredibly memorable journey taken by this man who was thought to be different or stupid by those from his small town, and just how many lives he touches and influences in spectacular fashion along the way.
If you’ve yet to pick up the film on Blu-ray or 4K in any of its previous releases, then I’d recommend doing so with this 25th Anniversary edition, which sees the Blu-ray remastered and looking the best it ever has. It’s not as sharp as some remasters we’ve seen over the years, but it does the movie justice where it needs to and anything that isn’t up to our usual high standards doesn’t actually detract from the story in any way, so that’s a major plus.
The 4K version does look best overall, but it’s hit or miss from scene to scene, so for those expecting the close to perfection that often finds its way into these transfers with most releases, that’s simply not the case here. Again though, this is the best version there is of the film on the market, so if you love everything Forrest Gump or are looking to revisit the movie without waiting for the 30th Anniversary release in whatever format may be around at that time, then you should go pick this version up and enjoy it.
On the audio side of things the movie sounds wonderful. The soundtrack and score blast through the speakers in surround sound whenever required, but don’t overwhelm the dialogue or sound effects at any time. Everything works harmoniously on the audio side of things, which is a major plus for any release because if there are issues with the audio they’re often far harder to overlook than some images that aren’t as sharp as we’d like them to be.
There are really too many special features to get into in great detail, as they reach over three hours in length when put together! Needless to say if there’s something you want to learn about Forrest Gump, the filmmaking process, the characters, the actors process or the special effects, you’ll find pretty much all you want to know within these re-released special features from the previous Blu-ray releases.
Here we’ve got two Audio Commentary tracks, one by Director Robert Zemeckis, Producer Steve Starkey and Production Designer Rick Carter. This is an incredibly in-depth commentary that touches on all sorts of aspects of the filmmaking process and is a must-listen for anyone who is into commentary.
The second track is by Producer Wendy Finerman who is on her own here. She talks about Forrest as a character a lot, his trials and tribulations and the likes. It’s not as engrossing as the first commentary track, but fans of the film that can’t get enough will probably want to listen to both.
Musical Signsposts to History – There’s also a four-minute featurette that sees Zemeckis and a couple of others talk about the soundtrack of the film and its importance to the telling of Forrest’s tale.
Greenbow Diary – This feature is 26-minutes in length and takes the viewer right behind the scenes in a wonderful piece that makes you a part of the filmmaking process intertwined with interviews from various cast and crew.
The Art of the Screenplay Adaptation – This is a 27-minute feature that is pretty self-explanatory in its title. Here we get to see a breakdown of how they took author Winston Groom’s book Forrest Gump and brought it to the big screen. It’s a lengthy process but incredibly informative and intriguing. Like pretty much everything else on the disc, this is a must watch for fans of the film and filmmaking or writing in general.
Getting Past The Impossible: Forrest Gump and the Visual Revolution – This feature is 27-minutes in length and focuses on all the crazy feats that the visual effects team did on the film in a time when a lot of this was breaking new ground in some cases.
Little Forrest – This feature is just under 15-minutes in length and how they decided on casting Michael Conner Humphreys for the role of Young Forrest Gump, and how his voice inspired Hanks’s take on the character as well.
An Evening with Forrest Gump – This feature is just over 55-minutes in length and sees the cast and crew talk about the film and take questions while at the University of Southern California.
There’s also archival special features to be viewed for those who want even more:
The Make-up of Forrest Gump – This is 8-minutes in length and looks at the make-up work done in the film by Make Up Artist Dan Striepeke.
Through the Ears of Forrest Gump – This looks at making the sound effects for five different scenes within the movie.
Building the World of Gump: Production Design – This feature is also pretty self-explanatory and is just over 7-minutes in length.
Seeing is Believing: The Visual Effects of Forrest Gump – This one takes a look at some scenes that didn’t make it into the movie, so that may make it of interest to check out for some.
Screen Tests – We’ve also got a few screen tests of various actors for the movie for those who are interested in checking those out.
Paramount Pictures Presents Forrest Gump. Directed by: Robert Zemeckis. Written by: Eric Roth. Based on the Novel by: Winston Groom. Starring: Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, Gary Sinise, Mykelti Williamson, Michael Conner Humphreys. Running time: 142 Minutes. Rating: 14A. Released on Blu-ray: May 7, 2019.
Tags: Forrest Gump, gary sinise, Mykelti Williamson, Robin Wright, Tom Hanks