I recently watched the movie, Forest Gump, and I had forgotten just how good this film is. Not only is it beautiful from a visual standpoint, it is profound in so many ways. I could do a blog just on this movie, but I won’t.
It’s amazing how skillfully this movie explores the distinctions between intelligence and wisdom and asks questions about predestination and free will. But I think the basic movement of the film comes from this idea: Forest may not be the most intelligent person, but he is an exceedingly wise person, at least most of the time. When he isn’t wise it’s because he’s too much like a child. It might be better to say that he’s a very wise child.
I was watching the part where Jenny comes home the first time, then sneaks away in the morning, leaving Forest without any explanation. There is an extended group of shots where the soundtrack goes dead silent. Forest is shown sitting in different parts of the house, trying to make sense of what she’s done, but it’s something he can’t make sense of. All he knows is that he’s hurting. Truly, he has been used in a painful way. Finally, the camera shows Forest sitting on his porch, thinking. Then the music begins to swell as Forest says something like, “All of a sudden, for no particular reason, I felt like running.”
And for the next umpteen minutes of the movie we get shots of Forest running across the country and back again, and I remember not really getting this part of the movie when it first came out. It seemed out of place. Even the humor in this section is much broader than the rest of the film. But if you think back to the beginning of the movie where some local punks throw rocks at Forest it makes sense. He’s hit with these rocks and Jenny yells at him, “Run, Forest, run!” So he does. He runs so hard that his braces fall off his legs and he gets away from the boys. He runs from them all through his childhood until it lands him a football scholarship. Later, Jenny tells him that when he gets to Vietnam he needs to run if people try to hurt him.
Jenny teaches him to get away from pain by running.
The reason he runs so long and hard after Jenny abandons him is that the pain of his life has finally caught up to him. The pain of his childhood. The pain of his war wounds and the death of his friend Bubba. The pain of mistreatment. The pain of his mother’s death. And finally, Jenny has given him the greatest pain of his life by using him and abandoning him without an explanation.
All of this pain, festering under the surface, pushes Forest to run for over three years, even though he doesn’t totally understand why he’s doing it. His pain is a silent motivator and running is the only thing he knows to do. But, finally, he says, “Momma always said you got to put the past behind you before you can move on. I think that’s what my running was all about.” So he stops running. He says, “I’m pretty tired. I think I’ll go home now.”
All that running would wear anybody out, don’t you think?
Peace to you.
© LW Publishing 2010