Stupid is as stupid does (Forrest Gump movie review)

‘Forrest Gump’ is not a very realistic story, but no one said unrealistic things could not refer to the reality. The protagonist seems to be made of impossible, miraculous matter – he is an embodiment of love and goodness. Even if he is fictional, the world needs him. Forrest is like a visible god who gives people hope and let them believe in beautiful, but not necessarily saint, things.

‘Forrest Gump’ is a story about us and about our everyday dreams. It’s warm and pungent at the same time, incredibly funny tale of an idiot, who became a multiplied, hybrid embodiment of ‘American dream’ that came true.  What’s important – the director, Robert Zemeckis, doesn’t try to convince us that people like Forrest (incredible Tom Hanks) exists. He highlights improbability of presented story by adding semi-documentary pictures (for example – of Forrest meeting presidents of United States) to the main narration.  He also reveals the narrative character of our identity – ‘self’ can recognise and understand itself only in the process of building autobiographical story. That’s why Forrest keeps talking. In the world that is dominated by chaos, the shape of your story is one of these rare things that one can control.

‘Forrest Gump’ is a praise of friendship, honour and loyalty, but – what’s the most important – it’s a beautiful, poetic parable about otherness. Gump, a local idiot, becomes our guide through the world of war and political conflicts. We see reality from his naive and not infected by any kind of bad emotions perspective, and learn from him how to stay human in inhuman conditions. We laugh of his misinterpretations and enjoy his – mostly accidental – victories. We deal here with a redefinition of common space. What was supposed to stay in the shadow, or in the social margin, turns into a ruler of the story. What’s important, the director tries neither to ridicule this retarded protagonist nor to blur the boundary between Forrest and normal/normative part of the society. He constantly brings out Gump’s otherness and turns it into his power.

Forrest is different not only mentally, but also physically. As a child, he was wearing metal braces on his legs. His strange dance movements inspired a young musician, who was staying as a guest in the Gump’s mother house. Young singer became very famous. We know him as Elvis Presley. The story of creative potential of prosthetic extensions of human body seems to be especially interesting from both – post-humanistic and postmodern perspective. Forrest’s movements that Elvis turned into his hallmark, can be treated as a symbol of opening visuality for images that previously were excluded from the visible common space.

‘Forrest Gump’ is a beautiful, touching story about otherness that can save the world from distraction. Maybe – thinking about actual problems with tolerance and empathy – we all should watch it once again.