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4K UHD Review: Forrest Gump

June 26, 2018

By John Corrado

Released in 1994, Forrest Gump is one of those classic movies that has garnered a lot of adoration since it first came out, but has also attracted a very sizeable backlash over the years.  I have personally always had a soft spot for the film, and now Paramount has given it a 4K Ultra HD upgrade with this new release.

Directed by Robert Zemeckis, the film follows Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks), a simple man from Alabama who has an IQ of 75 and finds himself living his life against the backdrop of the major events of the mid-20th century, including the Civil Rights movement, the Vietnam War, and several different presidencies.

Right from the opening sequence – a buoyant single take that gracefully follows a feather floating through the air, a motif that Zemeckis revisited a decade later with the lost ticket sequence in The Polar ExpressForrest Gump has an almost fantastical quality to it.  Yes, the film is unabashedly sentimental at times and parts of it are admittedly a little hokey, but I also get why it has connected with so many audiences over the years.  It’s a sweeping film that is expansive in scope, spanning several decades and taking us through multiple different storylines and tones.

I have always chosen to view the film uncynically, and find it to be a touching and engaging journey through several decades of American history, as seen through the eyes of a character who finds himself unwittingly at the forefront of the country as it goes through radical changes, yet blissfully unaware of the importance of his place in it.  Tom Hanks delivers a charming portrayal of the titular character, and the film also showcases memorable performances from Sally Field as his mama Mrs. Gump, Robin Wright as his childhood friend Jenny, and especially Gary Sinise as the grizzled Lieutenant Dan.  It’s all set to an excellent soundtrack that showcases several decades worth of classic rock music.

The film was nominated for a total of thirteen Academy Awards, and took home six of them, including the second of back-to-back Best Actor trophies for Tom Hanks, who also won for Philadelphia the year earlier.  The film famously beat out both The Shawshank Redemption and Pulp Fiction for Best Picture, in what remains one of the most argued about Oscar races in history.  It’s clear that at least some of the animosity towards Forrest Gump comes from the fact that it triumphed over these other cinematic favourites, causing many to reevalute their thoughts on the film and deem it overrated.

There is a magical quality to the fable-like story in how it shows the impact that one life can have on so many others, and the aspects of Forrest Gump that some choose to mock are the same things that make it endearing to so many others, myself included.  It’s a true piece of Americana, and love it or hate it, the film has left an indelible mark on popular culture that shows no signs of fading, despite the best efforts of internet haters.  While it’s doubtful this new edition will change anyone’s mind on the film, dedicated fans of Forrest Gump who are looking to upgrade are sure to be quite pleased with it.

The 4K disc includes a pair of commentary tracks to accompany the film, both of which have been imported over from the 2009 Blu-ray release.  The set also comes with a regular Blu-ray of the film that features these same commentary tracks along with the previously released featurette Musical Signposts to History, as well as a secondary Blu-ray disc devoted entirely to supplemental material, which appears identical to the bonus disc that was included with the 2009 edition.

Forrest Gump is a Paramount Home Media Distribution release.  It’s 141 minutes and rated PG.

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