TV & Film

5 life lessons from classic “Forrest Gump”

Today we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the six-time Oscar winning film “Forrest Gump.” This all-American film transported viewers through four decades through the eyes of Forrest Gump, a man who doctors, teachers, and classmates wrote off as a failure who would go on to become a war hero, a multi-millionaire and a national phenomenon.

Story by Dana Summers

It’s difficult to watch such an extraordinary film and not want to take a few tips from it to use in our everyday life.

1. F**k the expectations others have for you

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Forrest Gump, played by Tom Hanks, runs as fast as he can from local bullies, breaking and freeing himself from his leg braces. Gif courtesy of surfingbird.ru

Mrs. Gump never told her son that he needed to be a great man in order to succeed in life, but she would be damned before she would let someone strip him of same opportunities his peers had. When Forrest’s principal told her that her son had to go to a special school because of his IQ, she wasn’t having any of it. If that meant she had to sleep with the school principal in order to have her son admitted in public school, then she closed her eyes and got it over with. By allowing him to have the same chances in life and by not giving up on him even though he wasn’t book smart, she allowed him to believe in himself and crush the expectations his teachers, bullies, and even peers had for him.

2. Don’t get caught up in destiny

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Lieutenant Dan, played by Gary Sinise, wished he had died in war like his ancestors. He speaks with Forrest Gump about struggling with his disability. Photo courtesy of silverscreeningroom.com

Whether you believe in destiny or not, it’s never a good thing to let your life stop because you didn’t fulfill what you thought was your destiny. Lt. Dan thought his destiny was to die on the battlefield with honor and when he survived the war he put his life on pause. His misery led him to  slip  into alcoholism and loneliness. It wasn’t until his run-in with Forrest years after the war that he put his life back on track and became the hero he always wanted to be.

3. Running away ≠ escaping your demons

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Jenny, played by Robin Wright, and Forrest Gump, played by Tom Hanks, star in the hit ’90s classic film. Photo courtesy of beaufortcountynow.com

Jenny ran away from the horrors and memories of abuse she suffered at the hands of her father the moment she was old enough to leave Greenbow, Alabama. She left to go to college and when that didn’t work out, she became a hippie who tried to escape through LSD, and then to during the disco era she tried to escape through cocaine. Through all of this, she still found herself running from abusive men. It wasn’t until the birth of her son that she finally found a sense of stability and peace in her life. Running away and numbing yourself with drugs doesn’t make the pain go away. Sometimes you just have to stop and be kind to yourself and your body especially if you can’t trust others to do the same.

4. Always be a loyal friend even during bad times

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Bubba Blue, played by Mykelti Williamson, says goodbye to Forrest on the field. Photo courtesy of maxforce.smkh.ca

Forrest Gump was that kind of friend. He risked his life during the war when he pulled his unit to safety during an attack by the Viet Cong because he didn’t want to leave his buddy Bubba behind. Years after Bubba’s death, Forrest remained loyal to their pact to open a shrimping business and split everything 50/50 by giving Bubba’s family fifty percent of the profit. Forrest continued to be kind to Lt. Dan even though he hated Forrest after saving his life during the war. He was there for him even though it took a couple of years for Lt. Dan to thank Forrest for his brave act. Forrest continues to remain a loyal friend to Jenny and did not hold any bitterness when she didn’t love him the same way he loved her (how to be an actual nice guy 101). Everyone needs a friend you can rely on and trust for the long haul. What’s most important is that everyone needs to be that friend who will always be there.

5. Not getting what you want isn’t necessarily a bad thing

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Forrest visits Jenny’s grave. Photo courtesy of halofanon.wikia.com

No character got they wanted in the end. Lt. Dan didn’t die in a blaze of glory. Jenny didn’t become a famous singer. Bubba didn’t become captain of his own shrimping boat. Even Forrest only briefly got to have what he wanted most in the word before it slipped away. However, was it a bad thing? Nah. Forrest still found life long family and friendship through his son. Bubba’s mom gets to order maids around instead of vice versa. Jenny finally found the peace she needed in her final years. Lt. Dan didn’t have to die in order to become the man future grandchildren can tell their kids about.  You can get what you need without getting what you want.

“Forrest Gump” is an American classic that will be a must-watch for years to come. It manages be an epic film filled with action, love, loss, and triumph while still remaining humble. We haven’t witnessed a film like “Forrest Gump” since its debut 20 years ago and we probably won’t for years to come.

You can watch “Forrest Gump” now streaming on Netflix.

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