After Forrest Gump begins running, news reports tell their audience Gump is a, “gardener from Alabama.” Two things – it’s a statement on media illiteracy as Gump is Medal of Honor winner, ping pong champion, millionaire shrimp boat captain, and more. Second, this calls out American naivety toward its heroes. In the tumultuous ‘60s, no one took notice of heroes.
Through the lens of Vietnam, the moon landing, and other historical events, Forrest keeps on living. America changes around him. The culture shifts. People turn on one another. It’s a violent and turbulent period of American life but for Forrest, it’s always simple.
There’s a sense of Forrest’s naivety acting as a shield. Despite mention of Kennedy’s assassination and John Lennon’s murder, Forrest Gump shies away from civil rights. A brief excursion with the Black Panthers sloppily brings race into the film, a grueling shouting match of minimal consequence. George Wallace’s wrong-side-of-history stand against school segregation only plays for a laugh. Forrest Gump exists with blinders.
Forrest Gump portrays what it believes to be a loss of innocence
Forrest Gump portrays what it believes to be a loss of innocence
Gump represents the easy life. A farm, large home, financial stability, and safety. His girlfriend Jenny (Robin Wright), she lives the mistakes, mostly away from Gump’s eyes. A hippie, a stripper, a musician, a drug addict, and a protester, Jenny is America’s instability, bottled up and always portrayed as wrong. She’s against core ideals, a deviant and rebellious. Dirty, sexually expressive, and non-believer. She pays for her lifestyle in the end, less an empathetic fall for her than it is for Gump’s inability to save his childhood girlfriend through simple American values.
Much of Forrest Gump is about loss. Part of that is physical. Gump endures a number of deaths in his adventure. He carries on, of course, mostly through running. But, Forrest Gump portrays what it believes to be a loss of innocence. Gump is, by the 1980s at the end of the film, the last of his kind, a simple American boy with the purest of values, a staunch believer in God, and patriot.
Forrest himself is a darling character. Tom Hanks’ portrayal is organic and pure, infinitely likable too. The way he deals with life does inspire, even if he does so without facing much of his reality. That’s a gift in most cases. Imagine life without the stresses of politics or understanding of world events. To be so lucky, to just live freely, gently, and kindly. That’s Forrest Gump. Inspiring, if a bit sheltered.
Here’s the positive of Paramount’s 4K release: This is definitely a 4K scan. It’s evident from the second the bus pulls away, revealing the park behind Forrest and that bench. The resolution gives new life to those trees and that grass, shining and defined. Precision grain reproduction adds a natural clarity to the imagery, even in the many moments where the print ups grain thickness.
HDR effects too add zest and energy to the scenery. Sunlight glistens with natural intensity. Mostly, black levels reach outstanding levels. Vietnam scenery at night provides the best of both, especially as Bubba and Forrest sit back-to-back. Moonlight glazes them both with bright streaks, while blacks reach their deepest point.
The rest struggles. There’s detail. Close-ups deliver the needed fidelity and shots of the Gump home look wonderful. Look deeper and you’ll find low level filtering seeping into the image. Grain smears lightly on movement, enough to be noticeable. The first instance of visible tinkering comes as Sally Field sits with the school principal, faces and clothing muddy and plastic. Medium shots struggle even as Forrest Gump looks its best.
The bevy of early digital effects take their shots too, forever part of the film and unavoidable. Their presence, from the napalm attack in Vietnam to Lieutenant Dan’s digitally removed legs leave the scenes murky and low res. That’s nothing to do with the filtering or the encode, but it’s worth noting. The price of progress and all.
Even scenes without digital effects wander. During his impromptu visit with the Black Panthers, crush wipes out shadow details. It’s a rare issue for this disc, but significant during that scene.
Forrest Gump is flushed with beautiful color however. It’s bright and natural, with precision flesh tones and fine primaries. Saturation keeps Forrest Gump pleasingly bright. It’s certainly a jump over the Blu-ray. Shame the other pieces don’t match up.
Remixed for Atmos, Forrest Gump arrives in 4K with a fine audio offering. If dynamic range seems a touch low, expect a bump as Gump begins his landing in Vietnam. Helicopter rotors throb in the low-end, boomy and tight. As troops trade bullets, restriction of the mix comes into view. Originally 5.1, Forrest Gump sounds as such. Prominently, bullets whip into the rears, ignoring the additional space. Rear soundstage use lacks dynamism.
Another key scene, the shrimp boat at sea during a storm, performs better. Crashing waves slam into the boat, water rushing into the positional channels while the LFE blasts a consistent weight to the scene.
Dialog stays centered. That’s no bother. Ambiance still flows outward, from chirping crickets or birds, adding life to dramatic scenes. Still, it’s caught in the typical surrounds, leaving those additional speakers on vacation.
Forrest Gump comes loaded on three discs, the UHD and the original two disc Blu-ray set. The discs shared dual commentaries, first by director Robert Zemeckis, producer Steve Starkey and production designer Rick Carter. Producer Wendy Finerman goes solo for her track.
A pop-up feature titled Musical Signposts to History brings on journalist Ben Fong-Torres, director Robert Zemeckis, and music supervisor Joel Sill to discuss the musical selections and their impact on the film.
Disc two is spectacular, including Greenbow Diary, split between fly-on-the-wall behind-the-scenes stuff and interviews. The Art of Screenplay Adaptation is 27 minutes, looking at how Winston Groom’s novel was adapted and changed. Getting Past Impossible is a detailed look at the effects work. Little Forrest focuses on Michael Conner Humphreys who played Young Forrest and shaped Hank’s entire performance.
An Evening with Forrest Gump is a panel at USC that runs for an hour, with Hanks and Zemeckis (and others) discussing their time on the movie. Four sections are shoved into the Archival section of the disc, pulled from two-disc DVD. Most of the material is covered elsewhere, although the screen tests are a fun watch.
Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.
Forrest Gump is a stand-in for the good ol’ days of America, living through a troubled time in history without a care in the world – except his girl.
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