A white feather comes to rest by Forrest’s right foot. He sits on a park bench. He exclaims that he’s worn lots of shoes, shutting his eyes tightly to picture his first ever pair. When Forrest was young, his mom’s told his back’s crooked like a politician, so he must wear leg braces. They live in Green Bow, Alabama in a big house — letting out the spare rooms. Mrs Gump is told that Forrest is 5 IQ points below the required school IQ. She sleeps with the head teacher to get him admitted.
On the bus, the first day of school, only one person’s friendly. Forrest is immediately smitten by Jenny. She asks about his legs, he replies that they’re just fine and dandy. She asks if he’s stupid, he tells her that stupid is as stupid does. From that day on, they’re always together — like peas and carrots.
One miraculous day, school bullies with bikes throw rocks at Forrest. Jenny says “run!” Forrest then runs so hard his leg braces break apart around him. He outruns the bullies and from that day on, if he’s going somewhere, he’s running.
Years later, Forrest runs away from bullies driving a truck. He inadvertently runs across a football game — faster than the player with the ball. He then gets a scholarship to go to Alabama College. During games, he easily outpaces those around him — running to the edge of the field, through the marching band and out of the stadium.
The lady on the bench catches her bus and a mother with toddler takes her place. Forrest joins the army. On the bus, Forrest meets Bubba. Bubba asks if Forrest’s ever been on a real shrimp boat. When Bubba leaves the army, he’s going into shrimping.
The drill sergeant asks Gump what his sole purpose in the army is. Gump replies that it’s to do whatever the drill sergeant tells him. The drill sergeant says that’s the most outstanding answer he’s ever heard.
Gump presents his assembled weapon, setting a new company record. Bubba then details the many ways you can eat shrimp: “the fruit of the sea”. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, sauté it, there’s shrimp kebab, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo, you can pan fry it, deep fry it, stir fry it, there’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger and shrimp sandwich.
One night, Forrest watches Jenny perform. When an audience member throws his drink on her, Forrest defends her honour -although she doesn’t like being rescued. He tells her he’s going to Vietnam soon. She says run away if ever he’s in danger.
Forrest and Bubba arrive in Vietnam. Forrest notices the beer and barbecues. Bubba is assessing the amount of shrimp in the surrounding waters. They both meet Lieutenant Dan Taylor. Someone from his family has fought and died in every American war. His two standing orders are:
i) Take good care of your feet, and
ii) Try not to do anything stupid, like getting yourself killed.
One day, it starts raining and it doesn’t stop for four months. There’s every kind of rain: little, bitty, stinging rain, big, ol’ fat rain, rain that flies in sideways, sometimes even rain that seems to come straight up. It even rains at night.
In a skirmish, Forrest runs away until he’s all alone. Then, he remembers Bubba. On his way back for Bubba, he finds and carries back to safety many other wounded men. He rescues Lt Dan and gets shot in the buttocks. Afterwards, Bubba dies in Forrest’s arms. In hospital, Forrest has as much ice cream as a he can eat. Sadly, Lt Dan’s has had both legs amputated at the knee. Gump’s shown how to play table tennis, to never take his eye off the ball. He plays all the time after that.
Lt Dan is upset. He wanted to die like all his ancestors had. Meanwhile, Gump’s given the Medal of Honour for bravery. After meeting the president in Washington, Gump, still in full uniform, goes for a walk. He ends up on stage at a massive, anti-war rally. After he talks, Jenny splashes out into the Reflecting Pool yelling his name. They run together and embrace as the crowd cheers.
Jenny and Forrest are like peas and carrots again. But, when he sees someone slap Jenny across the face, he ferociously attacks the man. Forrest and Jenny walk and talk all night. Then, Jenny leaves for California.
Lt Dan’s in a wheelchair, drinking heavily. When Gump talks about shrimping, Dan scoffs and says when that happens, he’ll come and be Forrest’s First Mate. As 1972 is ushered in, one of the girls with them calls Forrest stupid. Lt Dan kicks them out. Afterwards, Gump apologises — the girl tasted like cigarettes.
Gump is discharged and returns home to see his Mama. He’s offered $25,000 for endorsing a ping pong paddle. With this money, he buys fuel, ropes, new nets and a brand new shrimping boat. His first catch is unsuccessful. Then, Lt Dan shows up wanting to be First Mate. Sadly, they still catch nothing. Forrest prays for shrimp in church. Still nothing — until a mighty storm blows in. Forrest is scared but Lt Dan — perched above the sails — is actively goading Hurricane Carmen. Every shrimp boat except Forrest’s is destroyed.
Now, every catch is full of shrimp and Forrest and Lt Dan go from strength to strength. They soon have twelve boats and a warehouse selling merchandise. Forrest tells the man on the bench with him that he’s got more money than Davey Crockett. The man walks off laughing, but Gump shows the woman remaining a photo of himself and Lt Dan on the cover of Fortune magazine.
Forrest’s Mama is dying of cancer. Lt Dan takes over the shrimping and Forrest gets a job riding a lawn mower in Green Bow. They also invest in Apple computers. Gump donates to charities, as well as giving Bubba’s family his half of proceeds. Bubba’s Mom employs a white cook. Forrest starts mowing the grass for free, since he’s now a gazillionaire. Jenny appears again and they embrace. They go for long walks together. Jenny recognises the childhood home where her father abused her and starts throwing rocks at it. Sometimes, there just isn’t enough rocks.
Forrest and Jenny are like peas and carrots again. She buys Forrest a pair of trainers and teaches him to dance. After he proposes marriage, she turns him down, but climbs into bed with him — leaving the next day.
Forrest goes for a run, never finding a good enough reason to stop. As he runs, he thinks of his Mama, Bubba, Lt Dan and Jenny. He only pauses to sleep. After having criss-crossed North America, he attracts followers. He helps someone with a bumper sticker slogan and someone else with a smiley face idea. Then, after three years, two months, fourteen days and sixteen hours, he stops running and goes home.
He goes to Savannah to find Jenny. From the bench, it’s apparently just six blocks away. Now suddenly aware of this, he runs directly there, narrowly avoiding angry traffic.
Jenny shows him the scrapbook she’s kept of his clippings. He’s pleased she’s a mama. She then tells Forrest that the boy is his. Forrest takes a pace back; stunned. Jenny says he’s the smartest boy in his class. Sadly, Jenny’s sick with an unknown virus. Forrest suggests they come to live with him in Green Bow. On Forrest and Jenny’s wedding day, Lt Dan shows up with new titanium legs.
Forrest tells Jenny about the beauty he’s seen. The stars in Vietnam when it’s not raining. When the sun goes to bed on the Bayou -showing a million sparkles on the water. Like a mountain lake that was so clear it looked like it was two skies — one on top of the other. Or, in the desert when the sun comes up and it’s hard to tell where heaven stops and the earth begins — it’s so beautiful.
Forrest teaches his son to play ping pong and they fish together a lot. Forrest places a letter written by Little Forrest on Jenny’s grave. He doesn’t know if Mama or Lt Dan was right. Do we each have a destiny, or are we all just floating around? He thinks maybe it’s a bit of both. He tells Jenny if there’s anything she needs, he won’t be far away.
Lil Forrest’s first day at school. Forrest notices he’s got his favourite book and a feather falls out. He sees his son safely off. Forrest remains sitting there by himself at the country bus stop. The white feather from the book is blown up and into the air.
Starring Tom Hanks. Robin Wright. Gary Sinise. Rated 12. Dir Robert Zemeckis. Released in the UK 1994. Runtime 2hr 22mins