Forrest Gump: Analysis Of Interpretation Of Real-life Events

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Forrest Gump (1994) is a romantic comedy film directed by Robert Zemeckis and stars Tom Hanks in the leading role of Forrest Gump himself. Forrest is a kind-hearted but slow-witted man from Alabama who shares his life story with a number of people waiting at the bus stop. Forrest Gump uses film techniques such as lighting, varied camera angles and shot types and sound to provide an accurate representation and interpretation of real-life events.

Lighting in films is important as it helps create an atmosphere and sets the mood for the film as well as providing an effective representation of real-life events such as emotional conditions which people go through. As people cannot physically be lighter or darker, it is a great metaphor to represent one’s emotional state of being. There are three main lighting techniques used in films; low-key lighting, high-key lighting and natural lighting. Low-key lighting is used mostly to create mystery, to dramatise or to create a sense of sadness. Forrest Gump uses great low-key lighting when Forrest is writing letters to Jenny, his childhood best friend, during the Vietnam war in which Forrest was fighting in. The low-key lighting used in this scene creates a dreary mood as it is dark and raining during the middle of the war. Forrest is fighting for his life and his country, which inevitably, should make him worried and sad about potentially losing his life and to never be able to see Jenny again. A great example of high-key lighting used in the film is when Forrest and Jenny are getting married. This bright and vibrant lighting creates a happy and uplifting mood to help compliment the joyous event happening at the time. As a wedding is a celebration of two people who are happily in love, it is only appropriate to have such bold lighting to help physically and emotionally brighten the scene. The lighting techniques used in the film provide an accurate representation of real-life events because it is a representation of the emotional state of people rather than using it as a measure for day and night.

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Camera angles and shot types help set the mood similar to lighting, but it can also create superiority for certain characters as well as give tenseness to a scene. These types of camera angles and shot types help provide an accurate and effective interpretation of real-life events as they collectively work together to tell a story. The camera angle in the first scene is focused on a feather floating through the breeze. We’re all just floating around accidental-like on a breeze, the feather is used as a symbol for Forrest because he is like a feather just floating absentmindedly through the breeze. A great use of co-ordinating shot types is at the beginning of the film when there is an extreme close up of Forrest’s dirty shoes. This extreme close up jump cuts to a long shot of Forrest siting alone at bus stop which slowly zooms into a mid-close up. In this shot, Forrest says I bet if I think about it real hard, I can remember my first pair of shoes. The sequencing of the shots make it look like the thought process of Forrest as the extreme close up of his shoes would have been his point of view, followed by him thinking hard like he is going to tell a story. This is similar to a real-life situation as certain items can resurrect memories of similar items. Camera angles are another great film technique to create superiority amongst characters, similar to real-life events. An example of this is when Forrest is talking to Lieutenant Dan, his former commanding officer, after not seeing each other for an extended period of time due to injuries they had both received in the war. When Lieutenant Dan is in a shot, a high angle is used whereas when Forrest is in the shot, there is a low angle used to make him seem larger and more powerful to Lieutenant Dan even though he is inferior to him. This is an accurate interpretation of real-life events as people who are in a similar situation to Forrest and Lieutenant Dan, where there are rankings, will look up to those of higher ranking and look down on those who have less power. Therefore, proving that camera angles and shot types used in the film effectively recreate an accurate representation of real-life events.

In the film, there are two main sound types used that are most effective in representing real-life events effectively; dialogue and atmospherical sounds. Dialogue is anything in which the character says in a film; this can be thoughts, conversation or narration of events. Forrest is a very social person and talks to anyone that comes his way as shown in the film when he chats with people at the bus stop. As dialogue occurs throughout the majority of the film, it is quite simple to say that it effectively represents real-life events, such as the war, as it is the way in which people communicate amongst one another. Without some type of language, soldiers would be unable to communicate with each other, which would have caused many more deaths. Atmospherical sounds occur throughout the entire film and are sometimes unnoticed. These sounds include many everyday sounds like the wind blowing, birds chirping or guns being shot. These atmospherical sounds are effectively used throughout the film to represent real-life events as they are able to remind people of memories such as war, or the first time they stood back on home ground after war. The sounds of gun shots can remind soldiers of wars they may have gone through and bring back vivid memories of the event. Consequently, the film effectively used sound to create an accurate interpretation of real-life events as they are able to trigger memories as well as being the form of communication in everyday life.

To summarise, just like other movies, Forrest Gump uses many film techniques to aid the film in the story it is trying to tell. These vary from camera shots, lighting techniques and sound techniques. These three all work together effectively and harmoniously to create an accurate representation of real-life events as they imitate feelings and emotions similar to what people in today’s world are able to relate to.

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