Why 'Forrest Gump' Is The Ultimate Fourth Of July Movie
It's the Fourth of July, and 2016 marks the 240th anniversary of America's independence. Around this time of year, a lot of people start to feel a little patriotic, and they like to celebrate in a number of ways. Some gobble down hotdogs and hamburgers, others head to the beach, and pretty much everyone at least catches a glimpse of a firework or two. But if you're looking to stay in and watch a movie to celebrate the holiday, there's no better Fourth of July movie than Forrest Gump .
The reasons for Forrest Gump being the ultimate Fourth of July movie are twofold. For one, the film gives an excellent retelling of the story of America in the latter half of the 20th Century. This was a very tumultuous time for the country, and several events helped transition the nation into the modern age in which we currently live. Forrest grows up in rural Alabama in the 1950s where he meets Elvis Presley and sees the birth of rock and roll. He then goes on to play college football at the University of Alabama, where he witnesses a big moment in the civil rights movement when the school was ordered desegregated by the National Guard. After school, he joins the army, where he is immediately sent to Vietnam for reasons he doesn't understand. After the horrors of war, Forrest shows the audience a number of other important events, such as the counterculture movement of the 1960s, the watergate scandal, and the beginning of U.S./China relations. The history lesson the film gives would make it worthwhile enough to watch, but the real aspect that makes Forrest Gump the perfect patriotic movie is the character of Forrest.
It's hard to imagine a better embodiment of the American Dream than Forrest Gump himself. The idea that regardless of where you come from, if you work hard and are a good person, then you'll succeed, is more or less the central theme of America. Whether you believe that's actually true or not is up to you, but Forrest just might make you believe. Born not only poor but both physically and mentally disabled, Forrest is first able to overcome his disability by physical determination. He literally runs out of the leg braces that shackled him in his early life. He then takes advantage of the one talent at his disposal, his gift of running, to go to college, since he never would have been able to go otherwise due to his low intellect.
People often think that Forrest lucks into some of the incredible situations he finds himself in, but most of the time he achieves everything either through hard work or by doing the right thing. He earns the Congressional Medal of Honor in Vietnam because he risks his life to save others in his platoon. He's not thinking of any grand reason for doing so, he just sees people who need help so he helps them. He represents the U.S. in China as a ping pong player because he practices constantly until he becomes one of the best players in the world. And while he lucks out as a shrimp boat captain by having the only boat that survives a hurricane, he still puts the work in to be successful at it because he promised his deceased friend that he would.
And Forrest isn't just the ultimate representation of the American Dream, he represents the American Spirit that we should all aspire to. Forrest never sees color or race, he just sees people for who they are. Forrest never thinks of himself, he always puts others first and just trusts that good things will come to him. Forrest is loyal, never turning his back on his friends or his duties no matter how hard it becomes to stay supportive. And above all else, Forrest is pure. There is no malice in his heart, and the world would undoubtedly be a better place if more people were like Forrest Gump.
Thanks to the film's depiction of American history through the eyes of someone who perfectly embodies both the ideal American Spirit and American Dream, Forrest Gump represents the ultimate patriotic film for the Fourth of July. So give it a watch if you haven't seen it in a while, and feel your heart swell with American pride — while also learning dozens of ways to prepare shrimp.
Images: Paramount Pictures; Giphy