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For all you folks thinking that there is some other movie out there that is better than Forrest Gump, you’re wrong. Okay, fine, I’m a fangirl of the movie. But I have facts to back up my claim. Hang in there, and you may just become a believer (if you weren’t already – because c’mon – most of the world is already in agreement with me on this one, right?)

Now before I get into the story of Forrest Gump, I’m gonna geek out on a few elements of story that back up my claim. For all our sanity, I’ll try to limit myself (I could probably talk about the awesomeness of this movie for days, so you’re welcome).


Oh, and… If you’re one of the crazies who hasn’t seen this movie, (insert facepalm emoji here), do yourself a favor. Watch it. Seriously. It’s worth it. And this blog is not going to do it justice.


Depending on your knowledge of story elements, you may already know that the three main types of conflict that are present in story are: man vs. man, man vs. nature, and man vs. self. Another, more simplified way of putting it is “external vs. internal” conflict. Forrest Gump hits on all these like nobody’s business. I’ll point these out more in the “Character Transformation” section. Sit tight.


In this category alone, Forrest Gump would probably still win the best-movie-ever award. Themes  are “an underlying topic of a discussion or a recurring idea in an artistic work.” (Thanks, Universal themes are themes that would ring true for people around the world – such as love or suffering – and generally focus on human nature or the human condition. Some of the UT’s that are present in FG are overcoming obstacles (“run, Forrest, run!” – which came in handy on more than one occasion), finding love (“I’m not a smart man, but I know what love is.” – Forrest to Jenny, they both struggled to find love and acceptance in their lives), and life and death (each character faced with death has a unique outlook, and Forrest makes his own conclusions about life and death in the end – re: Lieutenant Dan’s destiny vs. Momma’s box of chocolates).

I could talk SO MUCH MORE about these themes and how they are played out in the movie, but I’ll specify more about both conflict and universal themes in the “Character Transformation” section.


Empathy (defined by – “the ability to identify with another’s feelings.”

Alright, y’all. This is a big one.

Empathy is my favorite part of being a storyteller. Everyday I get to help build bridges to help connect people on a deeper level. Empathy helps mend misunderstandings and open our hearts to people who are different than we are. It’s legit.

Forrest Gump takes a character that is a societal outsider and makes us love him. We connect with his feelings and experience, even though most of us will never experience his struggles personally. How do we develop this connection? The movie humanizes Forrest Gump as someone who is like us. He wants the same things that we want and struggles with some of the same things that we struggle with. The movie also gives us a glimpse of an unfamiliar world, the struggles of Forrest that we can’t relate to, to broaden our perspective into this other human’s life and experience. By showing us that Forrest is like us, we gain empathy. By showing us his unique struggles, we also gain empathy.

And (hopefully) our lives were impacted after watching the movie to be more understanding and accepting of people like Forrest, people different than we are.

And I’d be completely insane to not mention that Tom Hanks, the actor who plays “adult” Forrest in the movie, is one of the key reasons that our gain of empathy is successful. He is a believable and wonderful actor who is able to communicate sooo much in his voice and body language. (Side Note: It’s not difficult for “Forrest Gump” to be the best-movie-ever with the best-actor-ever, Tom Hanks. I mean, I don’t think the race is up for debate, but find me if you think anyone comes close to this uber-talented, versatile, inspiring creation.)

Examples of empathy run wild throughout the movie. With characters who are single parents, abuse victims, war survivors and more – you are sure to find a character who teaches you something about the human condition and opens up your heart.


Another reason Forrest Gump is the best movie, ever, is that it can reach the widest audience. No matter what type of movies you like, chances are your favorite genre is incorporated into this movie.  (Well, except Sci-fy, but there are still some pretty cool visual effects in FG.) Forrest Gump has love, drama, humor, adventure, war, sports, history, entrepreneurship and politics. It’s literally jam-packed with genres.

For brevity’s sake, I’ll focus on one that I think makes this movie stand out. History.

I’m biased because I love history, but bear with me. I’m gonna geek out for a sec. This movie does an excellent job bouncing from micro to macro stories, using history as a common thread and narrative device to move things along. Micro stories focus on individual people, while macro stories focus on big picture narratives.

Forrest Gump uses history to jump between the micro and macro narratives and to give us a context of timeline, political climate, and American culture throughout the chronology of the film. While Forrest is narrating his life, he talks about his relationship to widely-known historical figures or events. He refers to JFK’s assassination, the integration of black students into a southern college, the war in Vietnam, Chinese Communism, and more. Oh, and he taught Elvis how to dance, gave John Lennon the lines to his “Imagine” song, accidentally uncovered the Watergate scandal, and was an early investor in “some fruit company” (Apple).

Throughout the movie, we find out how Forrest had a hand in America’s history and culture. We also get a nice visual tour of the country during Forrest’s three-year run-a-thon. Dang, all this FG talk is making me want to watch this movie again. Like, now.


Finally! The section has arrived for talking about character transformation. In most movies (maybe all movies?), at least one character goes through a transformation. Be it physical, relational, emotional or philosophical, the character undergoes some kind of transformation that displays growth, usually for the better. Let’s dive into some of the transformations that FG characters underwent. (Yay!) I’ll limit myself to three because – we ain’t got all day.


From Jenny’s first endearing meeting with Forrest on the school bus, we’re hooked. She notices that Forrest is different and asks if he is “stupid, or something,” but quickly accepts Forrest as her best friend. Jenny sneaks over to Forrest’s house because she’s scared – but Forrest doesn’t know why. We find out that her father has been abusing her. She is bounced around from home to home, always wishing she was somewhere new. She asks Forrest to pray with her, that God would make her a bird, “to fly far, far away from here.”

Almost her entire life Jenny runs away. She gets caught up in abusive relationships looking for love and acceptance. Forrest comes in and out of her life, but she always chooses someone or somewhere else. Even when she finally seeks him out, she runs away from Forrest after he shares that he loves her.

The beginning of the movie opens with Forrest sitting at a bus stop, on his way to Jenny’s apartment. This gives us a window into her eventual character transformation of finally acknowledging and accepting something she’s always known – that home, love, safety and acceptance is with Forrest. She reaches out to him and ends up moving back to their hometown of Greenbow, Alabama, with little Forrest.

She’d always accepted Forrest as a friend, but did not always appreciate his dedication to her. He was, after all, the only male figure in her life who treated her with respect, and she didn’t know what to do with that. We can assume that her diagnosis helps push her to back to Forrest (she tells him she’s “sick,” but the audience might assume she has HIV/AIDS). As she looks back on her life, she wishes that she would have been with Forrest during his adventures. She has regrets, but makes the most of the time she has left.

*Conflicts: Internal and external

*Universal themes: finding love, pain and struggle, rejection and acceptance, life and death


Man oh man, Lt. Dan. Where to start. He was introduced to us as the no-nonsense leader of Forrest’s and Bubba’s military unit in Vietnam. He was brave and smart, but wanted to die – like generations of his family had done – fighting for America.

He treated Forrest well, but didn’t think much of him. He was upset when Forrest saved his life. He thought Forrest didn’t understand him. He was outraged when Forrest received the Medal of Honor. He laughed at Forrest’s idea to become a shrimping boat captain (to honor Bubba’s memory), and jokingly offered to become his first mate.

But when the cigarette-flavored ladies called Forrest “stupid” on New Year’s Eve, Lt. Dan roared like a papa bear. He stood up for Forrest and was protective of him – something that he probably would not have done had he not experienced rejection and ridicule after losing his legs in the war.

After wishing for years that his life would have ended on the battleground, Lt. Dan ended up becoming Forrest’s first mate on the shrimping boat and found “peace with God.” He found joy again, found love, and even found new, magic legs.

*Conflicts: Internal and external

*Universal themes: life and death, acceptance and rejection, pain and struggle


Forrest is a character who embodies physical, relational, emotional AND philosophical transformation. He goes from walking with braces on his legs, to becoming a fast runner. He learns from his relationship with his mother how he would like to treat his own son (telling him he loves him before the first day of school instead of “don’t let anybody tell you you’re different.”) He grows emotionally as he learns to relate to the different people in his life. It seems so simple, but he has to advocate for himself that he “knows what love is” even though he’s “not a smart man.”

But the main transformation I want to focus on is philosophical. Forrest is constantly told what to do, how to act and what to think. From his mother who “did the best she could,” to Jenny who told him to not be brave and “just run away,” to Lt. Dan who said everything is part of a plan and “destiny” – Forrest mostly listened to what the people in his life told him. As a member of the audience, we don’t know if this information goes in one ear and out the other, if he agrees, disagrees or is indifferent to it.

The golden moment that starts the waterfall tears for us is during Forrest’s monologue to Jenny’s grave. He opens up about his confusion over life and death. He says he doesn’t know who is right – Momma (“life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna get,” or Lt. Dan (“everyone has a destiny”). Forrest concludes that “maybe it’s both. Maybe both is happening at the same time.” This is one of the only times that we see that Forrest is introspective and thinks about life’s big questions just as anyone else might. Truthfully, it isn’t surprising that he is questioning life and death. He watched his mother, best friend and wife die, after all.

And then he nonchalantly goes back to talking about the very straight-forward ways that he is taking care of their son – by making him breakfast, lunch and dinner, brushing his hair, etc. He starts crying when he reflects on how smart little Forrest is. (The main concern he had when he found out that he had a son was if he was smart.)

That last monologue was filled with truth bombs as well as simple, everyday life things that make your heart feel things. I mean, he leaves his son’s letter to Jenny (addressed “Mom” in the cutest handwriting) on her grave and doesn’t look at it. Little Forrest told him that he wasn’t supposed to read the letter, so he doesn’t. I MEAN HOW CUTE IS THAT. And how simple a display of love, respect and affection for his son. *Cue the tears*

*Conflict: Internal and External

*Universal themes: acceptance and rejection, love, family, overcoming obstacles, life and death (and so many more!)


Happy day, y’all. I’m about to wrap up my thoughts on this super awesome nothing-comes-close-to-it, movie. The Story.

You may have heard of common Story Arcs that are found throughout history in literature – Rags to Riches (think Cinderella), Overcoming the Monster (think Odyssey), Hero’s Journey (think Hobbit), Voyage and Return (think Alice in Wonderland), etc. Forrest Gump mostly resembles a Hero’s Journey since we are following one character’s story through obstacles and triumph. But, you guessed it, this movie incorporates many of these common arcs throughout. (Example: Jenny overcomes inner demons, Forrest goes to Vietnam and back, oh and becomes a ‘gazillionaire’).

For now, I’m going to focus more on the “underdog” narrative of Forrest’s Hero’s Journey (which also has hints of Rags to Riches).

This kid starts out with a crooked back and a low IQ, yet he becomes so so successful in basically anything he puts his mind to. He walks with braces on his legs, but then miraculously outruns the bullies at school. He runs right into an Alabama football practice and gets to go to college on scholarship (he’s really fast!). He runs to save his platoon on the battlefield, which earns him a Medal of Honor. He also runs across the country multiple times! (Side note: Forrest runs because he loved running. Jenny “runs” because she wanted to escape.)

Entrepreneurially, Forrest’s “Bubba Gump” shrimp company became a huge success. And he was an early investor in Apple – which we’re all jealous of, let’s be real.  Oh, and he got to meet three Presidents (and even show off his million-dollar wound! “But the army must keep that money ‘cause I still haven’t seen a nickel of that million dollars” – Forrest quotes are the best quotes. Sorry, I’m a little obsessed with this movie if that isn’t already clear.)


Alright guys, for those of you who might use the absurd argument that FG can’t be the best movie, ever, because it doesn’t have a super happy ending, let me explain. I’m a sucker for a happy ending. Happy endings > sad endings.

But for the purposes of what makes a good movie (and not merely a happy audience member) I’m going to say two things:

  1. Happy endings aren’t always the “real” endings. Let’s be real – life sucks sometimes. Whose life is smooth and without pain, struggle and death? The experiences of love and loss that Forrest faces are some of the strongest forces of connection that we have with him.
  2. Forrest (and other characters) find renewed hope in the end. Even in the darkest of times, we can always find hope that gets us through. Lt. Dan finds love and new legs in the end. Jenny finds love and acceptance. Forrest gets to raise little Forrest.

And the feather that drops out of the Curious George book as Forrest sends his son on the school bus for the ending scene SO PERFECT. (The movie also opens with Forrest finding this feather right before he starts narrating his story).



Alright, y’all. I’m realizing there is just too much awesomeness about this movie to fit into a single post. Like, I didn’t even talk about Forrest’s best bud, Bubba. Or about how Forrest played ping-pong around the world. Or about all the different US Presidents he got to meet. (facepalm to myself).

I also didn’t even mention ALL THE AWARDS that this movie won. Six Academy Awards! (Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director, Best Editing, Best Visual Effects and Best Adaptation of a Screenplay). And lots of other awards that back up this claim of mine.

As you can see, there are a lot of things about this movie that were left out of the post. SO, I would LOVE to keep this conversation going! Please post your comments or questions and I’ll be happy to dive deeper into movie analysis mode.

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  • Whitney says:

    Love this movie! Definitely BEST MOVIE OF ALL TIME!

  • Paul says:

    I liked that Forrest was an obedient guy , he did what they order to him, like in the army , he díd exactly what he was indicated to do in how to clean the weapons , and never complain , even he makes so Many times he díd it better and faster..
    he didnt have a plan for life but he made a plan to acomplish his promisses like how to Start buba gump bussiness, he knows he wasnt so smart but he knows who will , so he called lt. Dan to Work with him.
    And finally he knows sometime he will be with Jenny so he must be prepared , because he knew that if he was thinking a lot in her maybe she was too and one time must meet.

    • Chelsey Griffith says:

      Paul –

      I completely agree! Forrest had a very matter-of-fact response to many things throughout the movie. I remember the Drill Sergeant asking Forrest why he put his weapon together so quickly, and his answer was “Because you told me to, Drill Sergeant?” – Love this scene! He also showed President LBJ his “million dollar wound” after the President said he’d like to see it. Too funny!

      I also love that he showed such loyalty throughout the movie. Especially with Jenny and Bubba. He’d promised Bubba they would start a shrimping company together and split everything 50-50, and Forrest honored that commitment admirably. Forrest also came to Jenny’s rescue several times and, though she pushed him away, his loyalty never wavered. And I think she started out frustrated that he kept punching her boyfriends, but then came to appreciate that he stood up for her no matter what (or when or where for that matter! even at the Black Panther party!)

      Man. I could talk about this movie ALL DAY. Thank you so much for your comment and being part of the conversation of why “Forrest Gump” is a wonderful movie!

  • edward g reck says:

    I agree. Best of all time for all the reasons stated.

  • Nate says:

    Fabulous article…this is my favorite movie ever and you so eloquently stated why. Best line: “Sorry I ruined your Black Panther Party”
    Also, FG has been my favorite movie ever since it came out (I was 9 at the time), but now that I’m 34 and have my own baby boy it’s even more of a tear jerker…the scene when he meets him for the first time and they watch sesame street together…oh my cue the tears…

  • Jason K says:

    Love this piece. Thank you! My favorite and transcends time or popular culture. Why? Occam’s Razor – the simplest answer usually the best. Forrest embodied the essence of simplicity “childlike faith” that Christ calls out in the New Testament. His ego never infects relationships with others, it’s always about what he gives rather than receives. He’s others centric always focused on their best. Don’t we wish we were always these kind of people? He profits from building relationships with people who offer no worldly value: money, position or power. All relationships come from darkness to light because Forrest’s simple faith that God is good. When he says He’s a gazillionaire, he then says Lt. Dan manages all his money as if he really doesn’t care because when he finds out he’s close to Jenny he’s off to the races. His faith and steadiness give way to the ultimate example of love we want in all of our lives…No greater love hath a man than to lay it down for his brothers” Jesus John 15:13. Forrest’s faith gives way to this ideal of love. He asks for nothing personally, never caring for the worldly trophies he’s earned, no trophy case or shrine to Forrest, he could care less. All of his actions were inspired by love. The beauty of the movie is this this to me, the absence of ego led to the most fulfilling life I’ve ever seen in a movie. It’s a religious experience that I connected to when I was 19 years old, wondering for so many years why we all don’t see how beautiful this work and our lives could be of we stopped asking what do I receive, but what can I give….

  • CM says:

    The music!! Best OST ever

  • Jim says:

    After I first saw this movie years ago, I immediately concluded it was the best movie I had ever seen. I even modeled my life to be someone as honest and loyal as FG. It truly is a great movie that transcends time! Thank you for the great analysis! Jim

  • Mark Klouda says:

    I came across your blog about the greatest movie there ever was and it was like an instant magnet that I had to see more. Forrest Gump has always been my favorite movie from the time I first saw it when I was 34 years old. By then I had been a widower for just 3 years and maybe at the point in my life when I was the most sentimental.
    I have seen this movie more times than I can recall. I think I watched “Billy Jack” 3 times when I was a teenager and it was first in the theaters and that was the only time I ever really set out to see a movie more than a couple times. I never set out to see “Forrest Gump” so many times, it just seemed to work out that way like some kind of magical thing. I do not even buy movies because I don’t intend on watching them over and over. These days, I would not see the need to buy the movie “Forrest Gump”, because with a smart tv I can just say “Forrest Gump” and watch anytime. I rarely do that because it always just magically shows up just at the perfect time and I watch. I swear, it is magic.

    I was reading an online article in the Washington Post today and it was about the Trump administration and Lindsey Graham. I usually go to the comment section while reading the papers and see what people are saying. Well, someone said that they were “academic forest gumps”, and I immediately thought that was an insult to “Forrest Gump”. I replied to the comment, “I am sorry but, please do not use the star of my favorite movie in your otherwise list of good points.”. Well the person replied to my post, “Sorry, I don’t get what you are talking about:
    who is the star of which favorite movie of yours?”. I thought, “oh my God”, this is not the guy that I replied to. I knew who I replied so it had to be him thinking I was talking to the wrong person. Nope, his original post was right there. So then I thought, okay-he doesn’t know anything about the movie, but he is using “forest gump” with 1 “r” in “Forrest” as a generic term for a simpleton or something like that. Then, I said to myself well maybe “Forrest Gump” was a generic term for such a person.

    That brings me to see your blog/article/story. I right away thought, “I have met my soulmate”. Of course that is when it dawned on me that I am not the only person in the world whose favorite move is “Forrest Gump”. I also realized that I have never really searched on the internet about “Forrest Gump”. That is odd , with it being my favorite movie and all, because I having been using the internet since before I ever saw the movie. I mean, I have looked up movies that Tom Hanks has been in, always looking for one I have missed over the years. And of course, the times I have told “Alexa” or “google” to play “Forrest Gump” . I guess, I have told a few people that “Forrest Gump” is my favorite movie. Even some people I do not know., but I have never met anyone that also has “Forrest Gump” as their favorite movie.

    I am glad that you are here and now I will definitely be searching out “Forrest Gump” on the internet, just because it is my favorite movie and I can’t believe I have watched this movie dozens of times and I have never did an internet search before today. I wanted to see if maybe “Forrest Gump” was a generic term, because in my mind, I definitely thought it was, but I didn’t know if it was because of the movie or the movie came from the generic term. Incidentally, I have not found it to be a generic term before the movie, but I did see that there is a book the movie was based on. This is crazy! I have read plenty of books before and after I saw the respective movie. Cujo and Rambo as a couple examples, although Rambo was based on the book “First Blood”. I have read all of Grisham’s legal thriller and Robin Cook’s medical thrillers of which both authors had several movies based on their books of which there is so many of those movies I am not sure which I have seen. I realize I have not been writing enough and my grammar and punctuation is mostly improper. I apologize for this. The guy still has not replied back to me . I told him he used the “Forrest Gump” example but maybe he is clueless, like I have much room to talk.

    Oh, one more thing I need to say after I read your blog. You used either simple or simplicity a few times. Some of your admires did as well. I was looking as I read it because what I have always felt about “Forrest” was either “Innocence” or “Innocent”. I have been thinking that for 26 years ever since I first saw the movie. “And that’s all I got to say about that”. God Bless You and I hope I hear from you. What do you think? Is Gump and Trump about as opposite as you can get?

  • Matt Ponteri says:

    This article is old, but I’ll leave a comment anyways. I’m watching Gump right now, for probably the 25th time, it never gets old, the story is amazing, and i don’t think there’s been a time I’ve watched and not cried. If this movie doesn’t affect you in some way, you need therapy. Can you imagine anyone other then Hanks playing Gump? Or Gary Sinise as Lt. Dan? Or Robin Wright as Jenny. Sally Fields as Gumps mama needs nothing from me. Fields has proved herself a Hollywood icon years ago, and hardly needs any approval from me. I watched her as a kid in The Flying Nun, and she’s been in our lives ever since. The other three, Hanks, Sinise, and Wright, since making Forrest Gump, have become nothing less then awesome. Hanks has become one of the greatest actors ever. Sinise does his thing on and off stage. And Robin Wright is the woman who was the perfect pick as Jenny. And for the past 25 years has managed to only take parts worthy of her talent. I’ll watch Gump till i die. I hope a part of me is just like him. Accepting of all, forgiving of all, love for everything around me.

  • Gregg Dorr says:

    I’ve tried to explain to my family and friends that Forrest Gump is the greatest movie of all time for years. Thanks for writing this…. Now I have the proof to back up my claims!

  • Allen King says:

    I am a Forrest Gump trivia nut I have watched this movie at least 40+ times and I know it by heart. I am disabled so collecting and watching movies has become a passion. FG is my all time favorite I get a lot of ridicule from my family for having watched it so much. Now I have this blog to plea my case. FG is the greatest movie ever. Thanks!

  • Allen King says:

    The movie Forrest Gump is the best movie ever in my opinion!
    I am a disabled veteran and collecting & watching movies is a passion of mine, I have a copy of more than 200 movies and Forrest Gump is my favorite I have watched it probably 40+ times I know it by heart! my watching it so much has become a family
    joke in some ways, now that I have this blog,I can show them that I’m not the only person that thinks Forrest Gump is the best movie ever

  • Allen King says:

    By far the BEST movie
    Forrest G ump is the GOAT of MOVIES !!

  • A King says:

    I can relate to every historical event in the movie I remember very much the Kennedy asasinations the moon landings, the Vietnam war, Watergate,the Nixon resignation,the Ford administration, the attempted Reagan asasination, etc and the music is purely a classic rock treasure chest what’s not to like about Forrest Gump? it is THE BEST movie of the 20th century!

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