Let’s go on with our virtual tour in the way mass media talk about disability and, generally speaking, diversity with a 1994 movie which, now, is part of common parlance: “Forrest Gump” by Robert Zemeckis, starring a great Tom Hanks playing, precisely, Forrest, a man who, in his adult age, sitting on a bench at the bus stop, tells the people who get there the story of his life.
The beginning of the tale could seem the “same old story” about a disabled child in the USA during ‘40s: the little Forrest life was marked by his illness and physical and cognitive disability, who made him an easy target for bullies. The child constantly finds the strength to react, also thanks the support from his mother and Jenny, the only peer who seems to consider him worthy of her friendship. She, to escape the umpteenth assault by bullies, helps Forrest Gump discovering a capability that, despite his physical disability, will change his life: he’s great at running! Exploiting this talent, he will be admitted to the football team and, soon, he becomes its star. Thanks to his sport merits, he is admitted to the college and graduates, before joining the army and go fighting in Vietnam. Injured while he was rescuing two fellow soldiers of his, arrives at the military hospital, where he learns to play table tennis and- needless to say- he stands out also in this sport.
“Mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get”
“Poor Forrest”, who always used to be derided and harassed by bullies when he was a child, has become, in his own way, a successful man, who even gets to personally meet the US President, who awards him with an honour. But there’s even more: by chance circumstances, he becomes a millionaire. There would be a dream to achieve left: his love for Jenny, who, meanwhile, has had a tricky life. She, being afraid of ruining his life, has sex with him, but then goes away. Then, Forrest rediscovers his passion for running and starts doing it without a defined destination, attracts followers who start running with him thinking he’s doing it for a noble cause, so three years pass. Then, suddenly, Forrest stops: he’s tired and wants to come back home. He meets again Jenny, who, meanwhile, gave birth to Forrest’ son and, at last, they get married, even though their happiness isn’t meant to last long: got sick, Jenny dies and Forrest takes care of raising their very smart son up.
“Forrest Gump” is a poetical movie, which succeeds narrating with levity a story that could easily slip into pitiful tones, without that, always at hand, that little detail which manages to get a smile out and lightens the mood. But, above all, it’s a movie with a very clear moral: nobody’s a sealed fate, if he succeeds finding inside himself (and in those near him) the strength (and the possibility) to overcome his own difficulties