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"Forrest Gump"-(Sapphire Series) {Blu-ray}-(Taylor)
Taylor Carlson
Studio: Paramount
Release Date:
Special Features:

Commentary with Robert Zemeckis, Steve Starkey and Rick Carter, Greenbow Diary, Commentary by Wendy Finerman, The Art of Screenplay Adaptation, Getting Past Impossible - Forrest Gump and The Visual Effects Revolution, Musical Signposts to History - Music as "Chronological Set Design" for the Times of Forrest Gump, Introduction by Ben Fong-Torres, Little Forrest, An Evening with Forrest Gump, Archival Special Features


Forrest Gump is the latest release in Paramount’s Sapphire Series of releases on the Blu-Ray Disc format, a series that previous saw the Blu-Ray debuts of Gladiator and Braveheart. As with a number of recent reviews on our site, this one should carry extra weight because once again Paramount failed to provide us with a review copy and I had to purchase the disc myself. Forrest Gump is directed by Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future Trilogy, Who Framed Roger Rabbit) and stars Tom Hanks (The Green Mile, Apollo 13), Robin Wright Penn (The Princess Bride), Gary Sinise, Haley Joel Osment and Sally Field. The musical score is composed by Alan Silvestri. The film is based on Winston Groom’s novel of the same name and was released theatrically in 1994. ***

Forrest Gump is the story of a man with a low IQ who sees the world his own way through his own eyes. From his childhood to present-day adulthood, Gump somehow either witnesses or in some way participates in nearly every major event in American history. But being a man of low intelligence, he remains humble and has no idea just how important the events are that unfold before him. And as history in the making (which he is oblivious to) passes by his eyes over the years, he never stops trying to win over Jenny Curran, his childhood sweetheart. ***

When Forrest Gump was released theatrically, it was an instant hit with critics and audiences alike. Almost needless to say, it took home a number of awards. Excellent writing, special effects and direction combined with some of the best cinematic performances of the last 2 decades have given the film “instant classic” status. ***

While the movie wouldn’t have succeeded without a solid director and adapted screenplay, it is Tom Hanks that brings this movie and its hero to life. Hanks doesn’t go over-the-top with the character and gives a great performance that never feels staged artificial. From start to finish, I truly believed I was watching a man with a low IQ not capable of comprehending the history in the making before him. Tom Hanks had starred in a number of films prior to this one, but this is the one that truly forced him into the Hollywood spotlight – and he has remained consistently popular ever since. This, however, is his defining role and the one this reviewer will always remember him for best. ***

Also worth mentioning is the top-notch supporting cast. One of the real stand-outs in the movie is Gary Sinise as Lieutenant Dan Taylor, Forrest’s superior officer during his stint in the military – and on-again off-again acquaintance in the years that follow. While this is Forrest’s movie, Dan is one of the deepest and most interesting characters the film has to present. I don’t want to go into any details as this is difficult to do without spoiling key elements of the film, but I will say this – Sinise steals every scene in which he appears, particularly the postwar ones. Other great performances include Sally Field as Forrest’s beloved, wise old mother and Robin Wright Penn is a brilliant performance as Jenny, Forrest’s lifelong love interest. ***

The special effects are another thing that the film gained acclaim for – and it isn’t hard to figure out why after just watching the film once. The crew who worked on the film finds a way to integrate footage of Forrest into old newsreel footage of famous historical figures, giving these scenes an excellent, authentic feel that is surprisingly effective. It would have been far easier to just have actors portray these historical figures – but the crew went the extra mile to make this a memorable movie effects and look-wise and I commend them for that. What is even more amazing is that these effects have NOT aged badly, 15 years after the film’s theatrical release! ***

Forrest Gump is cinema at its absolute finest. Hanks gives the performance of his career. It’s a story that will make you laugh, cry, and stare in awe alike. The story and the effects alike hold up 15 years later, and the story is as strong and effective as ever. ---

Image and Sound:

Forrest Gump is the latest release in Paramount’s Sapphire Series, which is devoted to presenting classic/important titles in their catalogue at the best possible audio and visual quality. You’ll be delighted to know that Forrest Gump does not disappoint, and is a healthy upgrade over its DVD counterpart. Detail is strong and colors vibrant. There is almost no dirt or damage to speak of in the picture, and what little there is becomes ultimately negligible. The “newsreel” type scenes that Forrest was integrated into maintain a heavy grain level to look more “authentic”, and the crew was right to not “clean up” said scenes. Lossless audio appears on the disc, something a home video release of this film was long overdue for. It’s a great sounding film, with dialogue loud and clear and music and various sound effects really taking advantage of the mix. Quite possibly the best of Paramount’s Sapphire Series releases to date (though there haven’t been that many yet.)

Special Features:

Paramount doesn’t stop at excellent picture and sound quality on this release – there are ton of featurettes in this package. As far as I can tell, all of the featurettes from the older DVD releases are on here, including the two commentary tracks and tons of behind-the-scenes footage with the cast and crew. As I don’t own the DVD release, I can’t say for sure what is old and what is new to this package, but I will say that everything included in this package is excellent and essential viewing for fans. No one who enjoys this movie will want to pass this bonus material by.

Final Words:

Forrest Gump was a great film when it was first released in 1994. A decade and a half later, it still holds up excellently. Cast and crew alike come together nicely to make for what is arguably the greatest film of the 1990s. Paramount does not fail to please in this Sapphire Series Blu-Ray disc, either. The great movie, an excellent Blu-Ray transfer, a ton of special features – I can’t say enough positive things about this release. Highest recommendations.


Copyright @ Teakwood Productions 2000
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