Forrest Gump is a film based on a novel of the same name. It was directed by Robert Zemeckis in 1994, and Forrest, portrayed by Tom Hanks, immediately became one of the most ever popular film characters.
Give a brief description of the man you see in the picture below (his age, appearance, the way he is dressed and behaves).
In "Forrest Gump" we get to meet the physically and mentally disabled boy Forrest who was born in Alabama in 1944. According to his mother, who is portrayed by Sally Field in the film, his father is “on vacation”. When Forrest asks her what “vacation” means, she explains that it is when you go away and never come back. In spite of his considerable handicaps, Forrest succeeds in many walks of life, he even excels! We are admitted to his life story from his birth until his beloved Jenny dies in 1982. As a backdrop to his extraordinary life, we are witnesses to many historical events and “hot” social issues from the 50s right up to the early 80s.
Before you start watching the trailer or the movie, answer the following questions.
- Look up the word "gump". What does it mean? Dictionary reference - gump
- Where is Alabama? In which part of the USA is Alabama located? Do you think this is significant? Why? Why not?
- Animated Atlas Timeline Use the bar and scroll until you arrive at the late 1950s up to the start of the 1980s. Focus on the orange bar – society. What are the main events?
Watch the Trailer
- Describe the first scene in the trailer. How do you think that scene suggests what the film is about?
- What do you think is Forrest’s handicap?
- In which ways is Forrest’s life extraordinary?
- Why do you think Forrest found college “confusing”?
- How did Forrest get famous?
- Forrest was a great success in the American Army. Why was that do you think?
- Forrest gets to meet a lot of famous persons. How many do you recognize from the trailer?
- Which historical events do we get to see in the trailer?
- In which way may Forrest’s mother be credited for his success?
- How important is Jenny in his life? Why can’t they be equal partners?
- To which degree do you think this story is a story about a boy who succeeds against all odds?
- Is it a realistic story? Why or why not?
- What makes this story funny? Would it be funny if the story was told by another character, e.g. Mrs. Gump?
- Forrest refers to his mother saying: “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get.” How do you think that sums up what the film is about?
- Use the trailer as a source of inspiration and make up your own story. Call it either “Against All Odds” or ”Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get”.
- Use the trailer to make a report about Forrest’s life. Try to make it chronological (in the time order that the events take place).
Working with the Film
Watch the entire film and then work with the tasks below.
Group work: Each group use the web to look up key words to one of the incidents or concepts listed below. Remember to relate “your” concept to the USA. Elvis and Rock n’Roll; Segregation and desegregation; the Civil Rights movement; the Supreme Court and Brown v. Board of Education; KKK; the Cold War; the moon landing; the Black Panther Movement; the assassination of John F. Kennedy; the Vietnam War; the Hippie Movement; the Watergate Scandal; the outbreak of HIV/AIDS.
Make a table in your text editor, like this:
|Concept/Incident||When did it happen?||What happened? |
Why did it happen?
In which occupations/fields does Forrest succeed?
- War hero
- Car mechanic
- Family man
- Film actor
- Chess player
- Football player
- Describe Forrest’s relationship to the following characters and explain how they come to play important parts in his life: Mrs. Gump, Jenny, Bubba and Lieutenant Dan.
- Why is Jenny a character that finds it very difficult to settle down? In which way is Lieutenant Dan a dynamic character?
- Forrest is the narrator of the story. How does that affect the film?
- Use this link, choose a few examples and demonstrate how the musical effects contribute to the theme. Wikipedia - Forrest Gump Soundtrack
Many historical events and moments from the 50s up through the 70s are highlighted in the movie.
- You are journalists for a youth magazine and as a team you are asked by the editor to make an issue to commemorate one of the decades represented in the movie. The editor instructs you to focus on the historical events and persons that are depicted in Forrest Gump. Based on your research you are going to make and assemble articles that revolve around important persons and events from ONE of the decades.
- Study the sound track list provided on this link Wikipedia - Forrest Gump Soundtrack and make an oral presentation of how the music clips you have chosen from the film highlight issues and events in ONE of the decades depicted in Forrest Gump. Choose music that particularly highlights what you think is important and show how it defines “your” decade (the 50s, 60s or the 70s).