Tom Hanks defends Forrest Gump over charges the 1994 movie is boomer nostalgia that didn’t deserve to beat out Pulp Fiction for the Oscar.
Tom Hanks defends Forrest Gump from charges it didn’t deserve to win Best Picture over Pulp Fiction. Robert Zemeckis’ heartfelt film starring Hanks as a man on a whimsical adventure through decades of American history went on to be an unlikely blockbuster, grossing $678 million in 1994. It also went on to win Best Picture at the Oscars, infamously beating out Quentin Tarantino’s groundbreaking crime film Pulp Fiction.
Tarantino’s film had of course already received plenty of critical acclaim even before the Oscars, winning the Palme d’Or at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival. But when Oscar night rolled around it was the stirring and sentimental Hanks-led film that won the big prize, not Tarantino’s hip and post-modern hit-man movie. Not only was this a controversial call at the time, but to this day movie fans still argue vehemently that Tarantino’s influential movie deserved to win over the audience-pleasing and maybe even shamelessly manipulative Forrest Gump.
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Forrest Gump star Hanks for his part is only-too-aware of the arguments against his film and in favor of Pulp Fiction. But in a recent New York Times story, Hanks went out of his way to defend his movie against Tarantino fans who dismiss it as mere “boomer nostalgia.” The actor said:
The problem with “Forrest Gump” is it made a billion dollars. If we’d just made a successful movie, Bob and I would have been geniuses. But because we made a wildly successful movie, we were diabolical geniuses. Is it a bad problem to have? No, but there’s books of the greatest movies of all time, and “Forrest Gump” doesn’t appear because, oh, it’s this sappy nostalgia fest. Every year there’s an article that goes, “The Movie That Should Have Won Best Picture” and it’s always “Pulp Fiction.” “Pulp Fiction” is a masterpiece without a doubt. Look, I don’t know, but there is a moment of undeniable heartbreaking humanity in “Forrest Gump” when Gary Sinise — he’s playing Lieutenant Dan — and his Asian wife walk up to our house on the day that Forrest and Jenny get married.
Here Hanks of course refers to the movie’s famous “magic legs” moment where Forrest, who himself once wore “magic legs” due to a crooked spine, sees his amputee fellow soldier and friend Lieutenant Dan (Gary Sinise) with prosthetic limbs and can’t contain his happiness. According to Hanks, Forrest’s utterance of “magic legs” and “Lieutenant Dan” makes the audience “understand all they had been through and feel gratitude for every ounce of pain and tragedy that they survived.” He says this moment is some “intangile s—t” and “is not just running along to Duane Eddy’s ‘Rebel Rouser.’”
Hanks’ point is well-taken about Forrest Gump’s ability to move an audience in deeper ways than the term “boomer nostalgia” implies. It’s unlikely however that his argument will sway Pulp Fiction fans who believe that movie is far more innovative and cool, and ultimately had a much greater influence on the art of filmmaking. It’s indeed probably inarguable that Pulp Fiction had the greater influence on other filmmakers, but there’s no question Forrest Gump had a huge influence on pop culture, and is still a touchstone to this day. In 1994 there was no question that Forrest Gump was the more wide-rangingly beloved film, while Pulp Fiction appealed more to cinephiles and fans of everything hip and indie. And of course at the end of the day, the Oscars almost always reward the crowd-pleasing movies over the hipper films with more niche appeal. That’s one thing that hasn’t changed in the last thirty years.
More: Pulp Fiction In Chronological Order
Source: New York Times
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About The Author
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Dan Zinski is a freelance writer currently contributing to Screen Rant on a regular basis. His previous endeavors include writing on sports, general pop culture, celebrity gossip and various other forms of mindless distraction. To date he has left approximately 100 unfinished screenplays in his wake, the majority of which have thankfully been deleted entirely from our plane of existence. He currently resides wherever his head happens to lie. His hobbies include eating Doritos, playing Atari games, avoiding eye contact and drinking excessive amounts of coffee. His favorite actors include Greta Garbo, Humphrey Bogart, Robert Mitchum, Cate Blanchett, Groucho Marx and Richard Burton. His all-time favorite movie critics are Pauline Kael, Manny Farber and of course himself. He regards Rogue One as one of history’s great travesties.
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