Forest Gump is a film that was released in 1994 and directed by Zemeckis Robert. The story revolves round a man who was born with a below average mind but still managed to accomplish various matters in life. The movie is a drama-comedy that went ahead to receive more than one nominations and awards. Some of the awards and nominations include the Golden Globe Awards, the American Institute Awards, the People’s Choice Awards, and the MTV Movie Awards among others. The film used to be a reincarnation of a novel with the same name but used to be written by Winston Groom. The director, Zemeckis is applauded for his good work on the movie. Particularly, he made great selections on the camera techniques that were used in different scenes. In 1996, ‘Bubba Gump’ restaurant was opened in favor of the movie. The restaurant saw customers move from the Peak Galleria in Hong Kong to fill fit (Groom 4). A dramatic meaning in the opening scene of Forest Gump is developed through symbolism and the utilization of various distances, angles, and camera movements.
The movie’s opening scene is filmed magnificently and beautifully. The floating feather in skies gives the picture an aura and also creates the mood for what is about to happen next. In addition, Robert’s choice of soundtracks is exceptional. As the music plays, the tone is automatically created for other scenes to come as the movies progress. Right from the start of the film, the feather is in the air, drifting around. It is a symbol and a sign. Its white color symbolizes the innocence and purity of Forrest. It also shows his determination towards achieving not only his dream but also that of his friends and family. His enthusiastic nature is in line with what he wants to achieved despite his perceived disadvantaged position. The white floating feather also seems to symbolize a famous quote by his mom. “Life is like a box of chocolate. You never know where you will get.” The feather is floating randomly on floors, on people’s shoulders and even on top of cars (Groom 9). Such movement is a symbol the random nature of life and how one can never be certain of what direction life will take, what their destiny is and the obstacles they will face and how they will overcome them.
The opening scene sees the floating feather have some extreme long shots on different parts of town. It is shot from different angles, from medium shots and also closes up and it helps the audience to prepare their minds for the different settings of the movie. Despite the presence of the town and words being spoken in the opening stages of the movie, the feather is still the main point of the film and the eyes of the audience tend to follow the plume when there are constant changes in the background setting. A shot of the feather in the sky from a low angle further underlines its importance as a symbol. In this scene, there is a feeling that the audience is inferior to the plume. Shots of it are also taken floating above the green forest cover. The white feather on the green vegetation creates a contrast that helps in drawing the attention of the audience to the floating white plume on the greenery of the forest. In the period that it floats over the greenery of the forest, shots can be seen with various techniques and from various distances. There are instances where the feather is shot from close range and when compared to the size of the buildings, it is bigger. During the opening scene where the plume is introduced as well as what is symbolizes, a track is the camera technique utilized. The camera simply follows the floating feather wherever it goes. At the point where it lands on the care and on a man’s shoulder, a high angle shot is taken and the medium shot is utilized. Often, a low angle shot perceives the audience as inferior. However, the scenario brings out the feather as superior and when carefully analyzed, it looks like the audience is using a different perspective to see the theory of life. The landing of it at different points and in different places is an indication of just how life can be unpredictable and that no one knows where they will end up in the long run.
The feather finally lands next to Forrest Gump’s shops where it stops moving (Groom 20). The plume and shoes are shot at close range, further underlining their importance in the film. The shoe is a symbol, as it shows the struggles Forrest has faced and overcome to get to where he is. The importance of this cannot go unnoticed. When Forrest was young, he had a spine problem that restricted his walking. But one day his childhood friend and his wife made fun of him to run (Groom 25). Unfortunately, he ended up breaking his leg but realizes that his legs can function well. In addition, Forrest recalls his mother’s statement that said that by just looking at one’s shoes, one can tell what they have been through.
The close shot continues to be used when Forrest picks up the feather and a tilt of the camera is immediately executed to allow the audience to look at Forrest from his feet upwards. The technique from the feet upwards is important in introducing the character. The medium shot is utilized when Forrest analyzes the feather to ensure that his facial expression can be seen and how he perceives the plume. Forrest stares into the distance as a track is used for the medium shot. The audience would want to know what Forrest is staring at and at this point, a mystery is created. The view of the forest is blocked when a bus goes by and the connection between Forrest and the audience is broken (Groom 31). A woman alights from the bus and sits next to Forrest. At this point, the camera is still and only a zoom is used because the audience is eager about whether or not the woman will talk to Forrest. After chatting for some time, the camera zooms close to Forrest’s face and this point is quite important as it gradually introduces the audience to the next scene.
In general, various distances, angles, and camera movements are utilized in the opening scene to bring drama to the movie Forest Gump. The feather occupies the majority of the opening scene because it is the main sign and its significance is only compared to Forrest’s mother’s life theory.
Groom, Winston. Forrest Gump: A Novel. New York: Vintage Books, 2012. Internet resource.