What better choice for a 4th of July weekend than a movie that navigates across American history through the life of its main character and hits upon everything from American politics to race, religion, war and even sex. The film carries us through the beautiful American landscape and into a special 4th of July. It touches upon the greats such as Elvis Presley and lets us come to terms with JFK’s assassination, with Vietnam, and mourn the troubles that we’ve had as a nation, through the sweet soul of Forest Gump. It is a movie that describes American history and our reactions to it, yet keeps the humor alive and entertains us. The film is profound as it uses its characters to show how the American population through 40 years has been stumbling from one historical event to another, swept along by circumstances, sometimes rising to great heroic action and sometimes falling by the wayside.
The 1994 film depicts several decades in the life of Forrest Gump, a slow-witted and naïve, but good-hearted and athletically prodigious man from Alabama who witnesses, and in some cases influences, some of the defining events of the latter half of the 20th century in the United States. More specifically, this is the period between Forrest’s birth in 1944 and 1982. Although the film is based on a Winston Groom novel by the same name, it differs substantially from the novel including Gump’s personality and several events that were depicted. Forest Gump is about a character that always puts others before himself. Whether it’s giving his friend Bubba’s mom his share of the shrimping profits, or saving his buddies on the battlefield, Forrest constantly puts others ahead of himself.
The character of Gump is played by Tom Hanks who won the best actor Academy Award for his role in this film. Forrest Gump has never thought of himself as disadvantaged, and thanks to his supportive mother, played by Sally Field, he leads anything but a restricted life. From dominating on the gridiron as a college football star, fighting in Vietnam and captaining a shrimp boat, Forrest inspires people with his childlike optimism. But the one person Forrest cares about most may be the most difficult to save. His childhood love, the sweet but troubled Jenny, played by Robin Wright, is off on her own leading a lifestyle that may be considered dangerous for the times.
4th of July and Forest Gump
In the film, there is a memorable scene that occurs on the Fourth of July. It is powerful and has dramatic implications for both Forrest and Jenny. The scene begins with the two seated outdoors on a large rock in front of the pond on the Gump property. As Jenny embraces Forrest, we see fireworks reflected in the water. Although the 4th of July is never specifically mentioned, the fireworks are a clear marker and then the scene moves to the Gump House living room where the fireworks continue in front of the Statue of Liberty as seen on the television. As Jenny turns off the TV and heads off to bed, Forest is left alone for a moment, he suddenly puts down the Dr. Pepper he has been sipping and follows Jenny into the staircase hallway. The next moments are the ones that have profound implications as Forest proposes marriage. Although Jenny doesn’t accept, later that night she makes it clear to Forest that she does indeed love him. The holiday mood in the Gump house is a quiet one, reminding me much of our own home and how simple moments can be quite special and impactful even during the holidays.
Forest Gump Cross Country
We not only experience a poignant 4th of July through the life of Forest Gump, but our eyes are opened to the natural beauty of America that is often forgotten through this film. In the south, Forest reflects, “just before the sun goes to bed down on the bayou, goes over a million sparkles on the water.” We are transported clear across to the desert “and then in the desert, when the sun comes up, I couldn’t tell where heaven stopped and the earth began. It was so beautiful,” says Forest.
This film is full of mise-en-scenes that make prolific statements and now famous quotes, such as “life is like a box of chocolates.” It makes it difficult to decide what to highlight upon because it is all so good and you may expect that I would provide some chocolate recipe, but I have chosen otherwise.
Bubba Gump Shrimp
For a movie that inspired an entire restaurant chain, “Bubba Gump Shrimp,” joining the rare club of movies-turned-restaurants (from Popeye’s – The French Connection to Roy Rogers – various westerns), what else could I cook but shrimp! Remember the great line that Bubba spoke:
“Shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, sauté it. Dey’s uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That- that’s about it.”
And so, in keeping his word to the fallen friend and soldier, Forest starts the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. From this sprouted the themed chain of restaurants worldwide. Looking out the window at the Bubba Gump Shrimp chain’s Times Square location, it just makes you think of Forrest and Lt. Dan’s botched New Year’s Eve. For my ode to Bubba Gump Shrimp and Forest Gump, I have chosen one that Bubba may have missed, Shrimp Chowder!
A Fork & A Flick Friday
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2 (10 3/4-ounce) cans cream of potato soup
3 1/2 cups milk
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 1/2 pounds medium-size fresh shrimp, peeled
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Garnish: 1 tablespoon sour cream, chopped fresh parsley, diced tomatoes
1. Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium heat.
2. Add onion, and sauté 8 minutes or until tender.
3. Stir in cream of potato soup, milk, and pepper; bring to a boil.
4. Add shrimp; reduce heat, and simmer, stirring often, 5 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink.
5. Stir in cheese until melted.
6. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkle with parsley and tomatoes.
7. Serve immediately with oyster crackers, if desired.