Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump

My Favorite Scene: Forrest Gump (1994) “Jenny’s Grave”

Unlike most of humanity, I don’t love Forrest Gump.  CALM DOWN!  I respect the film for the performances and for breakthroughs in the craft of filmmaking, but in no way do I think the film is one of the greatest motion pictures of all-time.  “Gumpmania” swept the country in 1994, denying what should have been the most critically recognized film of the year, The Shawshank Redemption, the acclaim it has since received in the two decades since both were released.  Likewise, Tom Hanks has given at least three to five performances that were stronger Oscar candidates than Forrest Gump.  I will give the film credit, though, for some incredibly powerful, authentic scenes of types of emotion we don’t often see in film.Tom Hanks, Forrest Gump

So why don’t I like Forrest Gump?  I think it’s an annoyingly precious and treacly movie.  I never really fall in love with Forrest, I think Jenny (Robin Wright) is an annoying prat (I want to use another word), and I even don’t like Forrest’s mom (Sally Field).  I JUST DON’T!!!  Look, it’s fine.  Movies are art; art strikes people different ways, and if you love Forrest Gump you can make an impassioned argument for it being in the Top 15 films of all-time according to IMDB.

Tom hanks in Forrest Gump

One of the things I do NOT like about Gump, again, is that the film feels emotionally manipulative.  Seriously?  The poor guy waits around his whole life for his childhood best friend to acknowledge he loves her, she has a CHILD with him, skips out and doesn’t tell him, and then marries him, gets sick and dies.  SERIOUSLY?  Hanks, again acting in and around what I think is possibly one of the most frustrating “beloved” movie relationships of all-time, shines in a scene that I can tell you is unwatchable for me….because it’s so true.  Probably the only thing Forrest and I have in common (aside from loving Lieutenant Dan) is that we’re both widowers.  If you haven’t lost a spouse, this scene is, I’m sure, still powerful, but you don’t get it.  If you are lucky enough to marry your best friend and lose them, the subsequent hole that creates in your life, your days, and how you relate to everything is something that doesn’t get fixed.  Time does not heal it, and if you’re used to telling that person everything about your day… still do.  How can you not?  If they’re the light by which you saw the universe, that doesn’t end just because their light goes out.  You still have to keep going.  So I update my wife all the time on what she’s missing, just like Forrest updates Jenny.  It’s a part of the grieving process I don’t think I’ve seen in any other film, again, I will give Gump credit for reaching places other films don’t go because this; this is very real.

Tom Hanks, forrest gump

17 thoughts on “My Favorite Scene: Forrest Gump (1994) “Jenny’s Grave””

  1. I actually agree with you 100% on all of it. I am apparently 1 of maybe 12 of us in North America who doesn’t LOVE the movie. And for every single reason you write about! I actually think Jenny is the worst character and in real life we know how it would go….and it sure as hell wouldn’t be Forrest at her grave every day.
    I grieve my kindred spirit every day and it’s been 10 years. I have lost others, including my mom, but to lose the person who mirrored your other half is beyond devastating. Time doesn’t heal. It just moves on, whether we want it to or not.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. HOORAY, someone who also doesn’t venerate this movie lol. Jenny’s awful, and if Forrest didn’t have the love uncomplicated by the baggage most adults get, no, there’s no way he stands over that grave, because he’d-like you and me-be yelling the stuff at Jenny we did at the screen. That “time heals all wounds” is probably the most damaging lie anyone can tell someone who has just lost anyone close to them. It doesn’t go away. It changes you. The “you” you were doesn’t exist anymore. It does change. You grow around it; it becomes part of the new person who emerges, but it’s always there. That’s the part of the scene that hits so exactly with me, is that years later, they ARE still a part of your life even if it is just you. The things you want to tell them….you just tell them even if they aren’t there to hear them or maybe they do, the point is you do it for you because that stuff has to go somewhere. It’s a particular situation I don’t think I’ve ever seen another film handle, and even though I’m not a fan of the person in the grave, I completely understand the feelings of the person tending to it. Great comment and insight. It’s always nice to hear other people who do GET it, because until it has happened to you…even if you want to understand; you can’t.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I think Forrest Gump was another of those ‘event’ movies … like Avatar, like Wonder Woman, (just to name two 🙂 ) that changed how we engage with our moviedom.
    I haven’t lost someone like you have, but as Mrs Wids and I trundle along this life of ours, I’m 59 and she’s 68, sooner or later one of us is going to go before the other. (unless of course, an asteroid hits, then all bets are off) We talk about it in passing, the dying, not the asteroid, actually we do talk about the asteroid, 😀 but neither of us really knows how we’ll be at the death of the other. I’d like to think it’ll be with grace and dignity, and rage and humour.

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    1. Well, I was 31 when Jan was diagnosed terminal (which she found unimpressive and fought for years). I was 35 when she passed, and that was not an age when I was in any way expecting to lose the person with whom I shared my days. I was lucky enough to marry my best friend and we talked like idiots all day long for the 11 years we were together and that has to GO someplace when the other person just isn’t there anymore. This is extremely accurate. So much so that it’s difficult for me to watch, but it’s also NORMAL, which you don’t get at first. You kind of feel barking mad and then you just get over it and talk to the person because you have to empty your head. I in no way handled it with grace or dignity, but I had plenty of rage and humor (you English with your extra u’s in words, so adorable) and still do today which happens to be my birthday so this is the only time I’m tending this out of control monster of a hobby gone mad today. Y’all got the regular Sunday column: be grateful! At any rate, thank you for being such a good friend and if the asteroid should ever hit, you’ve got a friend who gets it.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. It is not spelled out what Forrest suffered from. I always thought people were wrong to call it mental retardation. I am not an expert in these things, but I always thought that he had some form of autism. And it meant he lived a life apart. When he failed to stop running after he reached the endzone in those football games, it was not because he failed to grasp the simple rules of the game, it was because of the traumatic experience of being chased by bullies as a child. Jenny was the only human being who was there for him when he was growing up, other than his mom, and his attachment to her must have been almost unshakable, even when she grew into a jerk. And when she betrayed him he ran and ran and ran, and he still could not shake her, she found him again. And when he agrees to marry her, he clearly does not want to. He finally has her number at that point. He is feeling what a normal human being would feel towards another human being who acted the way Jenny did. But he is Forrest frigging Gump, and he steps up.

    Forrest loved Jenny from the time they were kids, but he did not marry his soulmate, he married someone he had admired from afar for most of his life. I don’t think we are supposed to view Jenny as deserving of Forrest’s love. Forrest knew what love was, but had never been in a relationship, and with his psychological baggage I’m not sure I can judge how he acts at Jenny’s grave. He is a sad figure at the end of the film, who will wait all day in front of his house for his son to return from school. The film feels emotionally right, which is why people love Hanks in it, in shap contrast to a performance like Dustin Hoffman’s in Rain Man, which is cold and clinical and just about the craft.

    This movie could have done with being less Speilbergian. In fact, Zemekis’s entire career would have benefitted if he had been his own man more. I agree with you that it is overrated, though it does deserve its place in film history.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. As we understand more about autism and the stigma surrounding it becomes less, yeah, I think it is entirely possible Forrest is somewhere on the spectrum. Obviously this isn’t my FAVORITE scene from the film (that’s him getting so excited to see Dan he runs his boat into the dock) but it is one on which I have a perspective most people don’t as to how authentic that type of grief is and I honestly don’t think I’ve seen the lonely aspect of still trying to share your day with your dead spouse portrayed onscreen in any other film. And it’s very very accurate.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Did you ever notice that it’s called the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company? Forrest used his own last name, but Bubba’s first. The implication is that he did not know Bubba’s last name. I always thought that was a wonderful, subtle detail.

        I believe that the scene at Jenny’s grave is accurate. People say that the movie is manipulative, and it is, but it was made by very skilled manipulators, and they managed to make me cry. Say what you will about the film, it encapsulates the epic nature of the life of a human being, and ,makes you feel what he feels, and earns the right to comment on matters of life and death.


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