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Forrest Gump: Book vs. Movie Written in 1986 by Winston Groom, “Forrest Gump” was eventually made into a movie in 1994 and won an Academy Award. Both the book and its film concern the title character, a man who goes through many obstacles and a number of historical events around the world. Although both works explore the character of Forrest Gump and his lifelong journeys, the original book differs in many ways from its film version.
The film portrays Forrest as a charming, mentally challenged man who brightens not only the people around him, but the world itself through his numerous encounters with celebrities, his brushes with key historical events, and more important through his down to earth attitude. The overall tone of the book is much darker than that of the easy going family film. In the book, Forrest does drugs while visiting Harvard, uses profanity, explores a career as a professional wrestler, and even gambles. Although the character in the book seems to mean well, he makes many bad decisions and is sometimes has angry outbursts, unlike the character in the film.
Forrest Gump’s character in the novel is much different than that of the man portrayed by actor Tom Hanks. Groom’s depiction of Gump is rougher, with Gump remaining very much a idiot throughout the entirety of the book, whereas by the end of the movie the character matures into a more thoughtful, wiser, and smarter person. Groom’s Gump regularly enjoys marijuana, and although he does make his living from the shrimp business, his gives this business over to his crew deciding at the end of the novel to leave them to be a street performer. Gump is much more of an idiot in the book, rather than Hanks’ lovable, mentally challenged portrayal. In the book Forrest can solve complex mathematical equations and is a musical prodigy and a gifted chess player.
A number of important characters die throughout the course of the movie. Although this develops Forrest Gump as a character and shows his growing maturity in the wake of tragedy, these characters do not die in the novel. Forrest’s love interests, Jenny, as well as his mother, both live on at the close of the novel. Forrest’s father is a dock worker rather than a white supremacist, and his mother never resorts to sexual favors in order to keep Forrest in school. In addition, important characters were left out of the film, including Forrest’s college roommate Curtis and a gorilla named Sue, whom Forrest befriends on his mission into space.
Although Forrest takes part in historical events in both the movie and the book, a number of these events were altered, cancelled out completely, or invented for the movie. The book spans 26 chapters, while the film concerns itself with the first 11 chapters and certain events from the book’s final chapters, cancelling out a bunch of material. Forrest is a football star early in the book; however, he is later described as overweight and not the movie version’s avid runner. Forrest’s run across the United States does not happen in the book, doesn’t wear leg braces, doesn’t marry Jenny, or even graduate college. The book also describes Forrest’s participation in a NASA mission into space, his time as an actor, his time spent amongst cannibals, and a scene in which he saves the life of Chairman Mao Zedong during a trip to China. These are some of the parts of the book that were cut from the film to keep it close to two hours.
Now on to Forrest and Jenny relationship, we perceive that on the movie, they were actually friends. Their ups and downs show how Forrest loved Jenny, however she feels much sadness and compassion for him. She did not dream about marrying him or living with him. She had other intentions. In the book, she really loved Forrest, although being afraid of this feeling. She began one serious relationship with him and then finishes it when she sees him kissing another girl. Then, she decides to live far from Forrest, although being pregnant with his child.
At last, we see one more time that the ideas of the director of the movie and the author of the book are very different. In the movie, after Jenny’s death, Forrest looks after his son, what reveals that one more time he is figured out as being more independent on the movie. In the book, Jenny marries another man and makes a family with little Forrest and her husband. She feels that Forrest would not be right raising the child.
Compared towards books, movies loosely tend to focus more on gathering more people and earning more profit. In order for the movie to be profitable, it has to satisfy people’s desires by including love story, the success of an ordinary person, and a happy ending. The director of the movie would probably have taken the risk of changing much of the original story, because he knew that such components of the movie could more effectively bring the moviegoers and drive him to success.
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