Forrest Gump is an extremely popular and memorable movie that became a cultural touchstone all on it's own. Tom Hanks nails the role of the simple and sweet Forrest, and seeing the decades of American history that Forrest lives through in his own eyes seemed to resonate with audiences across the country and across the world. The high production quality and the film's uncanny ability to edit Forrest into some of the most important moments in history was unlike anything ever seen at the time, and the attention to detail was spectacular.
Forrest Gump is a pretty sprawling epic of a film, so there are a lot of little details that add to the believability and excitement of the picture that most audiences wouldn't ever pick up on unless they knew where to look for them. So here are 10 of the most interesting details in Forrest Gump that you probably never even noticed.
One of the thousand supblots that Forrest Gump finds himself in the middle of throughout the course of the film is his professional ping pong playing career. And one interesting tidbit about Forrest's ping pong playing skills is that he actually never blinks while he's playing. And his laser focus on the game likely stems from the same place that a lot of his behaviors stem from, that someone simply told him that he should do it. When he was initially learning to play ping pong one of his fellow soldiers tells him that the trick of the game is to keep his eye on the ball, and from that point on he does, literally.
For most of the film Lieutenant Dan can be seen wearing a rosary necklace, and that necklace has some significance both to the character of Lieutenant Dan as well as to the actor who plays him, Gary Sinise. The medallion on the necklace is a Saint Christopher medal, which are traditionally worn to protect someone in travels.
And ironically Christopher is also meant to protect from lightning and storms. But the piece also wasn't given to Sinise by production, it was actually a necklace that his brother in law wore when said brother in law was serving in the Vietnam war.
The massive anti-war rally where Forrest and Jenny finally reunite is an impressive sight to behold, and making it happen wasn't easy. Filling up the National mall in Washington DC is nearly impossible to do even when there are real protests and rallies happening, so making it work for a film is even harder. The way the Forrest Gump producers made it work was by wrangling up 1,500 extras and clustering them together in different areas of the mall for different takes, and then blending the crowds together in order to make it look like the massive rally that we see on screen.
Much like the anti-war rally scene, the classic Forrest Gump feather scene actually consisted of a blend of real shots and CGI movie magic. A lot of viewers would assume that the feather itself is fake, but the film crew actually recorded a real feather being blown around in front of a blue screen. Then when they wanted to add it to the film they edited together specific clips of the feather moving in the directions that they wanted it to move in the scene, and then added it in to the real exterior shot for a seamless but hard to believe sequence.
There probably weren't a lot of ping pong ball playing experts in the audience for Forrest Gump, but anyone watching those scenes would obviously expect that there was some kind of movie trickery going on. The skills on display would clearly be too difficult for even an actor who had undergone months of training to achieve.
One might assume that the filmmakers just had expert ping pong players playing the game and then superimposed the actors in their places, but they actually just had the actors swat at the air on their own and then digitally edited in a ping pong ball to match their movements.
It's exceptionally common for actors in major motion pictures to have someone who stands in for them in certain scenes and plays as their body double. But those body doubles are typically random actors who have been found by the production to perform that specific role. That is not the case with Forrest Gump. For many of the scenes where Tom Hanks required a body double his younger brother Jim Hanks was the one who played his double. But Jim only doubled for Tom in specific scenes, he can mainly be seen in Forrest's numerous running scenes in the film.
Forrest Gump is a film that follows the course of Forrest Gump's life for decades, from his childhood all the way up to middle age. And while Forrest undergoes a lot of transformations throughout those years, there is one thing that seems to be a consistent presence in his life. Every time the film shows a scene where Forrest is getting noticeably older he's wearing a blue plaid shirt. It's not the kind of detail that most casual viewers would be paying attention to, however it's exactly those kind of details that don't catch people's attention that really help to sell the narrative.
One of the weirder little running gags throughout the film Forrest Gump is all of the still photos of Forrest that appear in the movie. Forrest has a lot of photos taken of him at every age, and often times those photos are being taken with important people or at important events.
And Forrest's eyes are closed in every single one of them. It's a small detail, but it pretty perfectly encapsulates the absurdity of Forrest as a character and the fact that he manages to look like a goof every time he finds himself in the middle of some of the greatest historical moments of all time.
Although Elvis Presley's cameo in Forrest Gump is one of the most low key cultural references in the film, the production behind it was a lot more involved. Elvis' face is never seen and his name isn't even stated, but he is physically played by actor Peter Dobson. However actor Kurt Russell has stated that he made a kind of uncredited cameo in the movie because he provided the voice over for Elvis himself. And that wasn't much of a performance stretch for Russell, he actually starred as Elvis Presley in the 1979 biographical film Elvis, so the reprisal came pretty naturally.
The house that Forrest Gump grows up in with his mama in Greenbow, Alabama is a stunningly beautiful house. And Greenbow might be a fictional town in Alabama, but the house itself is very real. This old plantation house might have an ugly history but it's got a beautiful exterior, and it's a nice enough set location that Forrest Gump isn't the only production that has used it. The Mel Gibson film The Patriot also used the house for some of it's scenes, the character of Aunt Charlotte in The Patriot lives in this mansion and it was only slightly redressed for this period piece film.