Forrest Gump

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Forrest Gump

Original film poster
Directed by Robert Zemeckis
Produced by Wendy Finerman
Steve Tisch
Steve Starkey
Charles Newirth
Written by Winston Groom (Novel), Eric Roth (Screenplay)
Starring Tom Hanks
Robin Wright
Gary Sinise
Mykelti Williamson
and Sally Field
Music by Alan Silvestri
Cinematography Don Burgess
Editing by Arthur Schmidt
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date(s) July 6, 1994
Running time 142 min (US) / 136 min (Europe)
Country Flag of United States United States
Language English
Budget US$55 million
All Movie Guide profile
IMDb profile

Forrest Gump is an Academy Award winning 1994 film based on a novel by Winston Groom, and the name of the title character of both. The film was a huge commercial success, earning USD$677 million worldwide during its theatrical run (the top grossing film in North America released that year). The film garnered a total of 13 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 simple man (or gump) and his epic journey through life, meeting historical figures, influencing popular culture and experiencing first-hand historic events while largely unaware of their significance, due to his lower than average IQ of 75 (The average human IQ is 100). The film differs substantially from the book on which it was based.


The movie begins with a feather falling to the feet of Forrest Gump ( Tom Hanks) sitting at a bus stop in Savannah, Georgia. Forrest tells the story of his life to a woman seated next to him (the listeners at the bus stop change regularly throughout his narration).

Forrest is shown to have been taught much about life by his mother ( Sally Field). Forrest often recalls her favorite sayings, including "Life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you gonna get" and "Stupid is as stupid does." Both sayings became popular catchphrases following the movie's release. Other people who play key roles in Forrest's life include Jenny Curran, a childhood friend who is physically and sexually abused by her father; Benjamin Buford "Bubba" Blue ( Mykelti Williamson), a young African-American fisherman who serves with Forrest in the Vietnam War and knows "everything they' is to know about shrimping"; and Lieutenant Dan Taylor ( Gary Sinise), under whose command Forrest and Bubba serve. A few years after the war is over, Forrest and Jenny have sex. He then proposes marriage to her, but she turns him down and disappears. To cope with his heartbreak, Forrest runs across the country to raise money for cancer. Forest claims to " dislike the blackies" at this point in the movie.

Forrest is waiting at the bus stop because on March 30, 1981, he received a letter from Jenny who, having seen him run on TV, asks him to visit her. Forrest shows Jenny's letter to the current listener, a patient elderly lady; she tells him that the address is only a short walking distance away. He thanks the lady and immediately starts running. Once he is reunited with Jenny and her young son ( Haley Joel Osment), Jenny tells him that the boy is named Forrest, after his father. She also tells Forrest she is suffering from an unknown virus, which is most likely to be the then less commonly known HIV. Together the three move back to Greenbow, Alabama, where Jenny and Forrest finally marry, but their married bliss is cut short by Jenny's death "on a Saturday morning" according to Forrest. Her gravestone gives her date of death as March 22, 1982, which in the real world was a Monday.

The film ends with Forrest escorting his son to a schoolbus, where the father and son tell each other that they love each other. A feather in Forrest's book is blown away by the wind, and floats into the sky in the same fashion as the film's beginning.

Influences on pop culture

In his travels Forrest:

  • Teaches Elvis his trademark dance
  • Brings an end to segregation
  • Inspires the lyrics to John Lennon's " Imagine"
  • Foils Watergate
  • Starts the jogging craze
  • Brings about the " smiley" after wiping his face with a T-shirt
  • Provides the slogan for the "Shit Happens" bumper stickers
  • Lt. Dan Suggests that they invest some of their money from the shrimping business, and the company they invest in eventually becomes the Apple computer company (Forrest believes it actually sells fruit).

Meetings with famous people

  • While running to escape a group of bullies, Forrest's speed is noticed by Coach Bear Bryant of the University of Alabama. Forrest is recruited by Coach Bryant to play football, which he does for five years, mostly returning kicks. This means that he is a member of the 1961 National Championship team. It also means he would have played with Joe Namath. While at Alabama, Forrest impresses Bryant with his speed, but annoys him with his stupidity. Forrest's skills result in him being named to the All American Team.
  • He meets President John F. Kennedy after the All American Team of 1963 is invited to the White House. While there, since it's free, Forrest drinks 15 bottles of Dr Pepper. Over a handshake the president asks him how he feels, to which Gump replies "I gotta pee."
  • He later meets President Lyndon Johnson, who awards him the Medal of Honour for his heroic rescue of his fellow soldiers. After Forrest tells Johnson about his wound, Johnson says that he would like to see it some time, after which Forrest obediently pulls down his pants and shows the wound on his buttocks. President Johnson responds by walking away, chuckling, "God damn, son."
  • Finally, after being a part of the United States ping pong team, he meets President Richard Nixon, who asks him where he is staying, and then offers to put Forrest up in a much nicer hotel, which turns out to be the Watergate office and hotel complex. Forrest calls the front desk after he sees flashlights across the courtyard, bringing attention to the Watergate burglars and precipitating Nixon's downfall.
  • He meets Elvis Presley as a child, when Elvis was staying at their house as a boarding tenant.
  • He meets John Lennon on a TV talk show.

Visual effects

Ken Ralston and his team were responsible for the film's visual effects. Using CGI-techniques it was possible for Tom Hanks to meet dead presidents and even shake their hands.

Old documentary 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.


In Tom Hanks' words, "The film is non-political and thus non-judgmental". Nevertheless, in 1994, CNN's Crossfire debated whether the film had a left-wing bias or a right-wing one. Filmmaker Lloyd Kaufman has noted that Gump's successes result from doing what he is told by others, and never showing any initiative of his own, in contrast to Jenny's more forthright and independent character who is shown descending into drugs, prostitution, and death. As such, both film and fans are sometimes criticized for "glossing over" this important factor.

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'] performance is a breathtaking balancing act between comedy and sadness, in a story rich in big laughs and quiet truths....what a magical movie." 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.") Currently, the film garners a 72% "Fresh" rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes.

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." The film ranks 76th on IMDb's Top 250 films list.


Actor Role
Tom Hanks Forrest Gump
Robin Wright Penn Jenny Curran (Gump)
Gary Sinise Lieutenant Dan Taylor
Mykelti Williamson Benjamin Buford "Bubba" Blue
Sally Field Forrest's mother
Michael Conner Humphreys Young Forrest Gump
Hanna R. Hall Young Jenny Curran
Haley Joel Osment Forrest Gump Jr.
Sam Anderson Principal Hancock
Geoffrey Blake Wesley, SDS Organizer
David Brisbin Newscaster
Peter Dobson Elvis Presley
Siobhan Fallon Dorothy Harris, School Bus Driver
Afemo Omilami Drill Sergeant
Brett Rice High School Football Coach
Sonny Shroyer Coach Paul "Bear" Bryant
Kurt Russell Voice of Elvis Presley

Differences from the novel

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.
  • It is revealed near the beginning of the book that his father (a longshoreman) was killed by a falling crate of bananas (Forrest's father apparently left Forrest's mother in the movie but it is never explained).
  • The leg braces were not in the book; nor did Forrest's mother have sex with the school principal to get Forrest in the regular school. In the book, Forrest did not do well in the regular school and was put in a special school for mentally challenged children, which he refers to as the 'nut school'.
  • Forrest failed college and hence did not graduate.
  • Forrest's mother does not die in the book but does in the movie. Forrest's mother does die in the book's sequel Gump & Co.
  • The novel's Forrest is described as an idiot savant, with an extraordinary talent in numerical calculation. One memorable example of this is in college, when Forrest receives an A in his physics course (Intermediate Light) and an F in physical education.
  • Gump does not marry Jenny in the book; she instead marries another man, though she joins a band called "The Cracked Eggs" with him at one point. Jenny does not die in the original novel. She does die from unstated causes in the sequel—the book simply states that she and her husband got sick and both ended up dying—with the novel recounting Forrest's subsequent adventures with little Forrest when the boy is sent to live with him.
  • Gump and little Forrest do not have the loving relationship that the end of the movie seems to imply. In fact, Little Forrest (who was a teenager at this point in the second book) was mad at his father for not being in his life, and during a pivotal scene in the book calls out Gump for pretending to be his father. Forrest's response is to spank his son, changing their relationship.
  • Gump does not meet Lt. Dan until he is in the hospital in Vietnam. In the novel, Lt. Dan is not a professional soldier but a drafted teacher. He has no wish to die in combat and is more of a philosopher. Bubba is white and was previously on the football team with Forrest.
  • Forrest does not actively catch shrimp with a shrimping boat and sell them; rather, he has a small shrimp hatchery and builds success upon that. He learns how to farm shrimp from a friendly Vietnamese; back in Bayou La Batre (Bubba's hometown), Bubba's father helps him get started.
  • Forrest also has many other adventures in the book that are not mentioned in the movie. During his trip to China, he rescues Chairman Mao from drowning in the Yangtze River (parodying Mao's actual much-publicized swim).
  • Later in the book, Forrest becomes an astronaut and crash-lands on a small jungle island in New Guinea with his crew, Major Janet Fritch and a male orangutan called Sue (a homage to the Johnny Cash song A Boy Named Sue'). They are captured by cannibals and made to plant cotton.
  • In the book, Forrestbecomes a professional wrestler (under the alias of "The Dunce"), a champion chess player (first playing with the cannibal chief and then in a formal tournament), and even stars in a (fictional) remake of The Creature from the Black Lagoon (with Raquel Welch). After his shrimp business booms, he is persuaded to enter politics with the slogan "I've got to pee" (spoken to John F. Kennedy in the film), but withdraws when his opponents spread the word about his earlier misadventures.
  • Forrest's run across America never happens in the book.
  • The movie shows Forrest as a sober-minded man and cuts back scene from scene of Jenny doing a number of drugs. In the book Forrest is a smoker of cannabis and towards the end of the novel smokes tobacco more and thinks about his past and all that he's done in life. At the end, he leaves his crew (which includes many people he has met over the years) to run the business, and goes to live with Lt. Dan and Sue as street musicians.
  • The book features rather explicit sex scenes between Forrest and Jenny which do not appear in the movie.
  • The movie leaves out a lot of the unexpected details; such as when the feather blows onto his shoes and when he gets chased by the "bullies" and by the car.
Spoilers end here.


The soundtrack from Forrest Gump had a variety of music from the 50s, 60s, 70s, and early 80s performed by American artists. It went on to sell 12 million copies, and is one of the top selling albums in the United States In addition, an album featuring only the score by Alan Silvestri was released as well.

Awards and nominations

1994 Academy Awards (Oscars)

  • Won - Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role — Tom Hanks
  • Won - Best Director — Robert Zemeckis
  • Won - Best Film Editing — Arthur Schmidt
  • Won - Best Picture — Wendy Finerman, Steve Starkey, Steve Tisch
  • Won - Best Visual Effects — Ken Ralston, George Murphy, Stephen Rosenbaum, Allen Hall
  • Won - Best Adapted Screenplay — Eric Roth
  • Nominated - Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role — Gary Sinise (as Lieutenant Dan Taylor)
  • Nominated - Best Achievement in Art Direction — Rick Carter, Nancy Haigh
  • Nominated - Best Achievement in Cinematography — Don Burgess
  • Nominated - Best Makeup — Daniel C. Striepeke, Hallie D'Amore
  • Nominated - Best Original Score — Alan Silvestri
  • Nominated - Best Sound Mixing — Randy Thom, Tom Johnson, Dennis S. Sands, William B. Kaplan
  • Nominated - Best Sound Editing — Gloria S. Borders, Randy Thom

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
  • Music Best Music — Alan Silvestri
  • 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 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


  • The bus stop bench does, in fact, exist in Savannah in a local museum. On a side note, traffic runs the opposite direction around Chippewa Square.
  • The picture of Forrest Gump receiving his Congressional Medal of Honour used in the movie was actually of an American soldier with Tom Hanks' head superimposed on his body. As a result, the soldier, Sammy L. Davis, who also received the award for his service in Vietnam, is sometimes called "The 'Real' Forrest Gump."
  • After leaving the shooting of the The Dick Cavett Show, Forrest Gump meets Lieutenant Dan. While going to his apartment Lieutenant Dan is almost hit by a car, to which he responds angrily "I'm walking here!", as a homage to Dustin Hoffman's character in the movie Midnight Cowboy.
  • Forrest says he got a letter from Lt. Dan stating that he invested some of Forrest's money in some kind of fruit company. On the letter, it had Apple Computer's logo. Also, Lt. Dan investing in Apple Computers is a reference to political activist and founder of the Youth International Party, or yippies, Jerry Rubin, who was one of the first to invest in Apple Computers, leaving behind political activism. This joke is an allusion to the protest held in Washington, DC in the movie, and its speakers.
  • In some scenes Forrest is portrayed by Tom Hanks' younger brother.
  • Jenny supposedly dies of AIDS, which had not yet emerged or been identified when she died.
  • Comedian Dave Chappelle was originally offered the role of Bubba, but he turned it down because he thought that the role was racially demeaning and stereotypical. He has since stated that he largely regrets not taking the role.
  • A number of exterior shots taking place at the University of Alabama were actually filmed at the University of Southern California; also the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (home of USC's football team) was used to film the scenes in the University of Alabama's Bryant-Denny Stadium.


A sequel to the book Forrest Gump was written, Gump and Co., but due to a dispute between the author and Paramount Pictures, the screenplay written in 2001 based on the book was not put into production. The dispute has been worked out and Paramount producers are taking another look at the Forrest Gump II screenplay.

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