The Miracle of Forrest Gump


An image of a curly haired girl mirrors the famous imagine of Forest Gump on his bus stop bench. Graphic Provided by Jayden Barnes

Juliana Ramirez, Editorial Editor

Collectively, the memories of my childhood are blurry. They land on a spectrum of being a little too specific all the way to me having no recollection of events entirely. They very rarely sit anywhere in between, so when I do remember I categorize them into specifics and try to wonder why those, of all things, stick out to me. 

I was a hyper-fixated child with obsessive connections to certain foods, media, or activities when I found them comforting or enjoyable, so items that I held onto so tightly sit right on the end of the spectrum of remembrance being so vivid. Movies in particular were something so treasured by myself because my parents collected them religiously on DVD’s (and tapes at one point, like true children of the 90’s). I found myself attached to different movies at different times throughout my childhood that left me memorizing scripts and details of movies no one else seemed to linger on but me. 

My fixations came and went, but there has always been one that simply stuck with me throughout my life in a way that still brings me comfort: a story of a man with an IQ of 75 and an addiction to White House Dr. Pepper who’s life had the purpose of bringing change, love, and compassion to everyone who had the pleasure of knowing him.

Robert Zemeckis’ Forrest Gump is a captivating classic cinematic piece of art that has an unbreakable hold on my heart that’s been locked on since I had first watched it at seven years old.

I remember watching it for the first time after a conversation with my dad that went along the lines of 

“Run, Nani [my nickname]! Run!”

“Run where?”

“Run where- have you never seen ‘Forrest Gump’? Julie [my mom], our daughter has never seen ‘Forrest Gump’?”

It was more of an exclamation of disgust rather than a genuine question, but with that my dad went to what was then our family room with the intention of searching through the family’s collection of movies. Within minutes he pulled out the white casing with Tom Hanks sitting contently on a brown bench.  No context. No forethought of the movie’s contents or rating. He simply sat me down on the brown couch of our living room and told me to watch while he finished baking the chocolate chip cookies we had both made for the third time that week. (It’s Martha Stewart’s recipe, if you were wondering.)

Although he spent the movie beside me quoting every line that came off the top of his head, I sat there ignoring this annoyed feeling of his chatter and marveled at lessons from the film I wouldn’t quite understand until I was much older. Even giving it a fifth, tenth, or hundredth watch, references would fly over my head for years to come.

It was such a strong connection from that moment on as I put it on the blu-ray player every other moment of the day, or at the ripe old age of nine and demanded an explanation as to why the restaurant ,whose namesake was my favorite movie, didn’t stay true to it’s script and provide me a Dr. Pepper. 

Looking back, I’m trying to understand why a seven year old girl would resonate so deeply with a movie that holds so much depth within it. I unpack something new everytime I watch it, so there was no way I could’ve understood it so deeply then.

Or maybe that’s just it. A story that so plainly can be seen as “a man who was expected to do nothing goes and does everything” was hopeful to me in my youth. The world was limitless and this movie was my greatest example of the love that the world needs so it can revolve on its axis. 

This movie evolved as I did. As I grew and understood that more emotions went into Forrest’s life than simply compassion, I noticed that reflected into my own. With me, this movie aged as I understood pain and loss that simply has to come with even the best of times or the best of luck. 

The insight of a butterfly effect ingrained into my mind as my actions seemingly gained an exponential growth of an impact on those around me just as Forrest’s did.

The power it held a decade ago has yet to cease in my eyes. If anything, it becomes stronger and sends me more hope.