Forrest Gump On DVD
This warm, entertaining winner of the 1994 Best Picture Oscar countered traditional Hollywood storytelling while recalling an innocence that hadn't been seen in filmmaking in decades. Hanks well deserved his second straight Oscar for his portrayal of the mentally slow but life-embracing Gump, who by chance passes through many of the momentous events of the latter half of the 20th century. With terrific source material, mind-bending special effects, and Alan Silvestri's memorable score, Gump works on many different levels, from the technical to the emotional.
Gump's long absence from the DVD format was conspicuous, but Paramount has finally delivered with a shrimpboat-load of material befitting this fondly remembered film. The two-disc set even includes a cross-promotional coupon for—you guessed it—a box of chocolates.
Disc 1 features a beautiful anamorphic transfer. With superior picture detail, solid contrast, and a virtually grain-free picture, this is easily the best way for home viewers to watch this modern classic. The 5.1-channel soundtrack, while not overwhelming during most of the movie, springs to life suddenly and ferociously when needed, particularly during the firefight and napalm scenes in Vietnam.
The only other material on Disc 1 is a pair of audio commentaries, one by director Robert Zemeckis, producer Steve Starkey, and production designer Rick Carter, the other with producer Wendy Finerman, the driving force behind transforming Winston Groom's novel for the screen. The two tracks complement each other very well, with the men—mostly Zemeckis—recalling the many production tricks used to tell the story, and Finerman covering casting and the elements of the story itself.
Disc 2 features a mouth-watering selection of production materials. The most significant is Through the Eyes of Forrest Gump, a documentary that originally appeared (in a slightly longer version) on the 1995 laserdisc release but which retains its informative value. Among the many expected talking heads lavishing praise on one another and Zemeckis are some in-depth behind-the-curtain explanations of the complex JFK, Ping-Pong, and opening "feather" sequences. Just about every other effect—11 of them—gets its own short feature in Seeing Is Believing, each segment running anywhere from two to eight minutes. Among these are two scenes that were partially shot but have never been seen before, including a humorous one in which Gump crosses paths with Martin Luther King, Jr. It would have saved some button-pushing had all the segments been rolled into one special-effects feature, but the material is worth a look in any case.
Through the Ears of Forrest Gump looks at the sound effects, and is more interesting than the normal effects documentaries found on many discs. The Magic of Makeup explores the subtleties of Gump's appearance throughout the film, and the not-so-subtle transformation of Sally Field into an old woman. Rounding out Disc 2 are screen tests for Robin Wright, the then-unknown Haley Joel Osment, and others, plus a handful of production photos and two theatrical trailers.
Paramount took its time releasing Forrest Gump on DVD, but has rewarded the patience of the film's legions of fans.