While I have always considered the popular 1994 film Forrest Gump somewhat overrated (It’s a great movie, but when it came out some people took it waaay too seriously!), something did occur to me in recent years, when I caught it while flipping through the channels.
In fact, I don’t think 30 days go by without one of the major cable networks running it multiple times (so if you have not seen it, do so and you will get a better idea of what I’m about to share).
So, what’s the deal with Forrest Gump? Based on a 1986 novel of the same title by William Groom, this Robert Zemekis film stars Tom Hanks (You haven’t achieved real success until he plays you in a movie!) and a wonderful cast, with amazing special effects, a phenomenal score, and great storytelling.
Forrest Gump is a man from Alabama who is not very smart (but maintains a purity of heart and virtue). While entering adulthood during the turbulent sixties he, by pure chance, crosses paths with pivotal people, places and events of history during that time (and in some cases, plays a causal role, of course).
That said, by the end of the film (the story concludes in the mid 1980s), he is a multimillionaire, and has achieved far more in his life than many of us ever hope to!
A few examples of Forrest’s achievements:
- he teaches Elvis Presley how to dance
- he overcomes a disability in his legs while outrunning an automobile of bullies chasing him (“Run Forrest, Run!”)
- he becomes star football player (he keeps running, and “...got to to college!”)
- he saves the lives of multiple servicemen during a battle in the Vietnam War (ran some more while carrying wounded men over his shoulders)
- he becomes a world-renowned ping-pong champion (which included lucrative endorsement deals)
- he meets three U.S. Presidents (at personal White House invitations)
- he teaches himself how to “shrimp” and becomes a shrimping boat captain (and launches a multi-million dollar shrimp company)
- he runs across the country multiple times over three years (and organically gathers a cult following in the process)
I could probably add more but doing so would first require a re-screening of the film. But I think I’ve captured the main deliverables here.
So, it begs the question: how does a “slow minded” individual like Forrest Gump achieve such success? While the story of Forrest Gump is fiction, there is still a wise truth revealed here. If you know the movie well, you’ll get my point quickly. If not, check out this scene when Forrest discovers ping-pong, while recovering from wounds in a VA hospital (there is some minor objectionable language):
When introduced to the game by a fellow soldier, Forrest is told, “Never take your eye off the ball.”
Forrest tends to take what people tell him quite literally. While possessing a lower IQ, Forrest has something that most of us struggle to maintain, especially in our world of ever-increasing demands and distractions.
Forrest Gump has FOCUS.
And as Forrest Gump proves repeatedly throughout the film, as a man with a comparatively lower IQ than the rest of us: FOCUS. BEATS. BRILLIANCE. Every time!