In a series of episodic flashbacks, "Forrest Gump" relates the serendipitous life story of its titular character. The movie opens with the seemingly simple Forrest sitting on a park bench, chatting away his otherwise innocuous afternoon with a series of strangers. These humble beginnings betray a life filled with unexpected adventure -- Forrest encounters famous historical figures, saves lives and earns millions through a naïve, admirable sense of virtue.
Robert Zemeckis directed "Forrest Gump," which he shot in a variety of locations in the American South, including Beaufort, South Carolina, coastal Virginia and the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina. He filmed the Vietnam War footage near the Combahee River in South Carolina. Screenwriter Eric Roth adapted the film from Winston Groom's novel "Forrest Gump." Zemeckis shot many of the scenes against a blue screen and used CGI technology to integrate Tom Hanks' appearances into historical footage alongside John Lennon and John F. Kennedy, among others.
Tom Hanks starred as Forrest Gump. His co-stars included Sally Field, who played a mother so devoted to her son that she was willing to trade sexual favors for a better education and life for him. Robin Wright Penn appeared as Jenny, Forrest's off-and-on love interest, who indulges in the reckless hedonism of the 1960s. The amorality of her story parallels the simple virtues embodied by Forrest. Mykelti Williamson portrayed Bubba Blue and Gary Sinise played Lieutenant Dan Taylor, both former members of Forrest's platoon. The latter character was a co-founder of Forrest's successful shrimping business.
Historical Events and Figures
Roth's screenplay of Groom's story inserts Forrest's narrative into many historical events. These include the Vietnam War, in which Forrest saves the life of his platoon's lieutenant and also appears at the protests that took place on the Mall in Washington, D.C. After high school, Forrest helps integrate the University of Alabama through an act of sincere gentlemanly courage. He later plays ping pong during the "Ping Pong Diplomacy" tour of China, meets with then-Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson and rallies alongside political activist Abbie Hoffman. While talking about his trip to China on "The Dick Cavett Show," he innocently inspires the lyrics to John Lennon's "Imagine."
Revenue and Recognition
"Forrest Gump" earned a number of awards and award nominations. Academy Award wins included Hanks for Best Actor, Zemeckis for Best Director and Roth for Best Adapted Screenplay. The movie also won the Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Visual Effects and Best Film Editing. It received nominations in seven other categories. The American Film Institute lists "Forrest Gump" 37th on its "100 Years...100 Cheers" list of the most-inspiring films of all time. It opened on July 6, 1994, earned the top gross for that week and held the top gross for ten straight weeks. Zemeckis shot the film on a $55 million budget. By the time the movie left theaters, it grossed nearly $330 million in the U.S. and another $347 million overseas.