September 18, 2014

Finally I Gotcha, Gump!

A couple of days ago, I was among those 25-30 people sitting in the magnificent IMAX theater at PVR Phoenix, watching this celebrated picture. It can be assumed that most of them, if not all, had come for a re-watch - there will be very few cinephiles who haven't watched 'Forrest Gump'. And all those who know me have always been utterly surprised to find that I haven't, or hadn't, until that day. So, I was sitting there and more than half of the movie was over. We were back after the forcefully and clumsily done 'intermission' and soon came a scene that was backed by this line in Forrest's voice - "It was one of the most unforgettable moments of my life". I was surprised how unaffected I was when that happened. It was the scene where Forrest is made to speak at an anti-war rally and comes out from nowhere - Jenny, Forrest's love-interest. Cinematically, that scene looked ambitious and made to create a historical moment. Emotionally, it did nothing to me. It did nothing because it felt contrived, and forced. And by that time in the movie this had happened a bit too much - the writing had been manipulative and relying completely on chance events. Every time I was to get lost in the movie, the writer showed up, and did something smart, which for me was only gimmicky. "Is it again one of those mainstream Hollywood movies that will not be able to stand the test of time, that's going to age poorly?" - I thought. And also - "Winning Oscar over 'Pulp Fiction' was surely a fluke."

Some more minutes passed by. And then I realised I was smiling uninhibitedly at the misadventures of the lead character. I really cannot say when, after that over-critical reading of the film, it eventually won over me. I have to admit that my problem with the movie was only its writing. In every other aspects the movie was an absolute triumph, there was no doubt about it. But eventually, even the writing started making sense. The complete reliance on chance events, the unpredictible structure, the exaggerated plot elements, events happening without actually taking us anywhere in a clear, purposeful direction - everything made sense. Today, two days later, I know I can watch the movie all over again. I think I can also accept, now, that the biggest triumph for this picture is its writing. Finally, I got it, it seems.

The screenplay of 'Forrest Gump' bases itself on the pattern of life, especially an extraordinary life of a seemingly ordinary man. It covers emotions of all kinds, it touches people of as many kinds as can be, and does this with a playfulness, a never-ending sense of humour, making it insightful, uplifting, entertaining, and inspiring at the same time. What eventually convinced me of its greatness was Forrest's repetition of what his Mom told him about life, that it is a box of chocolates, and you never know what you'd get. It was consolidated by Lt. Taylor's belief in destiny. The movie, or its screenplay, has been designed purposefully in a melodramatic way - plot events driving the characters rather than the other way round. After all, isn't life very much the same? I can only call this as an extremely ambitious idea, extremely challenging, because such writing can often fail, and extremely well-executed. Watching this great film unfold before my eyes on the giant IMAX screen for the first time was an unforgettable experience. It seems, my wait of all these years was worth it. That I did not watch it for so long, despite people making fun of me, and a copy of it present on my laptop, and then suddenly a re-release making me travel all the way to Lower Parel so that I could experience it on big screen, in itself is an inexplicable chance event. Had I ever imagined that this is how I will meet 'Forrest Gump' for the first time, a film that I would call one of the most successful melodramas of our time. And hence, almost inimitable.

1 comment:

  1. Love it. Even though we can't make fun of you about this anymore, glad you got to experience it this way!