Forrest Gump is one of the most iconic films of all time, regardless of what film buffs might tell you. It is one of those rare movies that manages to penetrate popular culture and leave a lasting impact on it. One only needs to mention the “box of chocolates” line for this point to become clear. Aside from that, the decade-spanning tale it spins is also one of the most well-known of the past 50 years and has spawned countless parodies.
By the end of the film, you realise that the warm-hearted protagonist has a real density, one that is meant by screenwriter Eric Roth and the original novel’s author, Winston Groom, to have represented a bit of all of us, regardless of creed, economic situation or otherwise. The film has a universal appeal that is unmatched.
One would argue that the subtle recurring plot device of the feather is also one of the most underrated aspects of modern big-budget cinema. Leading man Tom Hanks also provided his own thoughts on it, when, in 2001, he opined: “Our destiny is only defined by how we deal with the chance elements to our life and that’s kind of the embodiment of the feather as it comes in. Here is this thing that can land anywhere and that it lands at your feet. It has theological implications that are really huge”.
Whilst discussing the implicit notions that Forrest Gump seems to contain a lot of, it turns out that Tom Hanks also had some incredibly pertinent secret lines that are said but not heard in one of the film’s most memorable scenes.
During the iconic anti-war ‘March on the Pentagon’, Forrest Gump is asked to share his experiences of the deadly Vietnam war in front of a huge mass of protestors at the Washington Monument. As he approaches the microphone to give his speech, the plug is pulled by an enemy of the movement, and all we see is Gump mouthing words that we cannot make out.
The fictional version of political activist Abbie Hoffman, who is stood next to Gump is the only one that hears him. He’s deeply moved by the speech, and this has been the most confounding part of the film ever since its release. According to Tom Hanks, he said: “Sometimes when people go to Vietnam, they go home to their mommas without any legs. Sometimes they don’t go home at all. That’s a bad thing. That’s all I have to say about that”.
An incredibly emotional line, given the rollercoaster of a journey that Gump and the audience have been through at this point in the film, it’s also a brilliant narrative device. It has managed to keep audiences guessing and talking about the film nearly 30 years after it was released.
Watch the classic scene below.