"Life is like a box of chocolates," says Forrest Gump (as played by Tom Hanks) to anyone who will listen."You never know what you're going to get."
This homily introduces us into the "world of Forrest Gump," both the random strangers Forrest encounters on his park bench, as well as the film's potential audience.Its folksy wisdom is meant to characterize for us the commonsense, down-to-earth, accepting and exceptional attitude supposedly unique to Forrest Gump; an attitude we will better understand once we have, as the advertisements put it, "seen the world through the eyes of Forrest Gump."Thus this dictum about chocolate is meant to capture what we might call the Gump Worldview: life is full of surprises, some of them odd or funny looking, but all of them enjoyable.
Yet, if we can pull ourselves away from the tempting treats for a reflective moment, we might ask ourselves: is a box of chocolates really all that full of surprises?Is it really the case that you never know what you're going to get?If your experience with chocolates is anything like mine, you might agree that, finally, there are ultimately very few surprises to be had this way; that in fact chocolates exist in a fairly simple world where everything is either full of nuts or conceals a gooey center.And so this epigraph does indeed capture the Gump ideology--and a sugary, binary ideology it is.
Yet it certainly does not capture the philosophy or mood of the book upon which the film is based.Forrest Gump, by southern writer Winston Groom, begins with the line, "Let me tell you this: being a idiot is no box of chocolates."Thus the film takes what is in the book a statement of protest and cynicism and...
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...historical events in which it deals; and that ideology is disturbing.To protest the war is seen as indicative of a personality disorder; in fact, to protest anything is characterized as a psychological flaw, a self-destructive, self-indulgent neurosis.The epigraph for the film reads: "The world will never seem the same after you've seen it through the eyes of Forrest Gump."How true.How troubling, for it suggests that if our vision of history were as blinkered and our desires as ideologically vaccuous as are Forrest's, then all of our dreams (which we shouldn't have) will come true, and all of the world's conflicts (which are mere shams) would be solved.For Forrest Gump the film, life is indeed a series of chocolate-coated surprises--as long as you forget each chocolate the moment it is consumed and you desire nothing more than a steady diet of nuts and gooey centers.
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