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"Forrest Gump"- Heroes and Film

The film presents us with a series of images - using archival footage of John F. Kennedy, John Lennon, Richard M. Nixon, George Wallace among others - to demonstrate to us the everyday heroism of Gump's life as he continually works to attempt to overcome the challenges that life puts before him. As such, he is the embodiment of Ray's outlaw hero, but he also embodies a commitment to the importance of community that Ray argues is more typically associated with the official hero:

Embodied in the adventurer, explorer, gunfighter, wanderer, and loner, the outlaw hero stood for that part of the American imagination valuing self-determination and freedom from entanglements. By contrast, the official hero, normally portrayed as a teacher, lawyer, politician, farmer, or family man, represented the American belief in collective action, and the objective legal process that superseded private notions of right and wrong. While the outlaw hero found incarnations in the mythic figures of Davy Crockett, Jesse James, Huck Finn, and all of Leslie Fiedler's "Good Bad Boys" and Daniel Boorstin's "ringtailed roarers", the official hero developed around legends associated with Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Lee, and other "Good Good Boys" (

Gump is clearly far more outlaw hero than official hero: He holds no official office and his disability places him in an irrefutable way outside of the kinds of formal power structures from which official heroes are chosen and developed. Because of his "slowness", he appears to have little choice about what kind of hero he would be. And yet, and here Zemeckis is playing with the archetype of the American film hero, Gump is not the maverick that so many American outlaw heroes are. Just as his chance to be one of the official heroes is denied by his disability, his opportunity to be a typical outlaw hero is also blunted by his slowness.

The typi...

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"Forrest Gump"- Heroes and Film. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 11:26, August 20, 2017, from
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