Superimposed History

        Forrest Gump was released in 1994 and directed by Robert Zemeckis. The film is based on the 1985 novel Forrest Gump, by Winston Groom. The fictional tale follows the life of Forrest Gump (played by Tom Hanks) as he becomes involved in some of the most influential figures and events of the past sixty years. What makes these historical happenings humorous is Forrest’s low IQ of seventy-five because it seems he has no knowledge of how important these events are. This film was a huge box office success, earning over $677 million worldwide and gaining 13 Academy Award nominations (taking home six). These awards included Best Picture, Best Visual Effects, Best Director (Robert Zemeckis), and Best Actor (Tom Hanks).

         An amazing part of the movie is the visual effects. It is because of these effects that Forrest Gump received an Oscar for Best Visual Effects. Ken Ralston and his team were in charge of these effects. In the movie, Tom Hank’s character is superimposed into historical videos such as meeting and interacting with dead presidents using CGI-techniques. Old documentary footage was used in conjunction with techniques like warping, morphing and chroma key. Chroma key, or “green screen,” is the removal of a color from one image to reveal another image behind it, and the removed color become transparent. This technique is best demonstrated in the removal Gary Sinise’s character, Lieutenant Dan’s legs. His legs were wrapped in blue fabric, allowing the “roto-paint” team to paint out his legs from every single frame.

         Forrest Gump also has an eclectic soundtrack that gives an American history lesson in itself. It features top billboard hit music from the fifties, sixties, seventies, and early eighties by American artists, selling over twelve million copies, making it one of the top selling albums in the United States (one of which I own).

Brent Bauscher

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