Oct 5 2014

Destiny, chance, and choice in the motifs in Forrest Gump

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gump shoes“I don’t know if we each have a destiny, or if we’re all just floatin’ around accidental-like on a breeze. But I, I think maybe it’s both,” Forrest tells Jenny as he stands over her grave. Forrest Gump begins and ends with the feather caught on the breeze. Yet this seemingly random feather lands at Forrest’s feet and he picks it up.

It lands there as he waits for the bus that will reunite him with Jenny twenty-something years after their first meeting. He picks it up and puts it in his Curious George book, the book his mother read to him when he was little. Later it falls out of the book at another bus stop and is carried away by another breeze. (Notice how many films begin and end with bookend scenes like this.) 

A motif is a repeated image, symbol, object, or word in a film that points to a theme. When something is repeated several times in a film it usually is important. Forrest Gump has a number of motifs including the feather and the chocolates that point to the themes of destiny, chance, and choice.  Continue reading


Sep 13 2014

Reflections on Forrest Gump: Forrest knows what love is

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Forrest Gump says “I’m not a smart man but I know what love is.” And he does. He loves his Momma, Bubba, Lt. Dan, and, most of all, Jenny.

Forrest shows his love for his mother by remembering and respecting what she teaches him. Mrs. Gump equips Forrest with an outlook that marks the way he processes the things that happen to him throughout his life. It is Forrest’s acceptance of whatever comes out of the “box of chocolates” that allows him to become a participant in historic events without questioning whether he belongs there. He accepts himself and believes he has something to offer because His mother instilled worth and confidence in him. He values other people in the way Mrs. Gump teaches him to value himself.

Forrest rushes into the Vietnam jungle to save his friend Bubba and ends up saving four other men. Forrest honors Bubba by following through with the plans they made to go into the shrimping business even though Bubba is dead. So deep is Forrest’s connection to his friend that he shares his fortune with Bubba’s family even though he doesn’t know them well and they think he’s stupid. Continue reading


Nov 11 2011

My favorite American movie veterans

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Thank you to our veterans who are changed forever to preserve our freedoms. They go when they would rather stay home, they bear the marks of war on their bodies and their psyches. They are our friends and neighbors and our heroes. Here’s a list of my favorite veterans from some of our major wars.  Who are yours?

Benjamin Martin (The Patriot) – Revolutionary War. Brings not only his experience, but his wisdom and regrets to his second war. He won’t fight until it’s personal, leads reluctantly as a citizen soldier standing with his neighbors. It’s not about power.

54th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry.(Glory.) Civil War. A black regiment led by an idealistic white captain learn to put aside distractions and disagreements and focus on the cause. When one fell another took up the flag, a symbol of their determination to win freedom.

Sergeant York – World War I. Kinda hokey but I love this guy. He resists violence but he fights when his default setting is peace and love for his fellow man. Continue reading


Nov 23 2009

Top 10 Movie Prayers

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Here are 10 of my favorite film prayers and what they’ve taught me. Sometimes touching, sometimes irreverent, prayer in movies reflects the gamut of our attitudes toward God and what we expect from him. The 7 Deadly Sins can even come into play when we are trying to pray.

1. Shenandoah The dad in this old movie returns one of the most prideful prayers of thanks I’ve ever heard. This attitude represents the hubris of “self-sufficiency.” Introducing God into the equation changes the impact of words like “deserve” and “earn.”  God really is the source of provision for everything I have and deserves my thanks.

Continue reading