Well, one of the movie's life-analogies--the more famous one--is to a box of chocolates, as pictured in last post and containing half of the home-spun words of wisdom. Adumbrated by his mother, and repeated way too often in the course of the motion picture, here it is from Forrest:
My momma always said, "Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."
Gnash! The sound you hear is teeth a-grinding. It's hard NOT to get bruxistic about this line of dialog, because #1 it's taken up so often by otherwise smart, well-meaning people, who, perhaps brain-washed by that popular and well-meaning film, are half-consciously convinced that these ARE words of wisdom about our life on this planet. Heck, I've heard it used quite seriously by one of my former colleagues as the basis for a commencement speech! And #2: Woody Allen's bogus "net-court" tennis-analogy rises to sheer genius when compared to this pile-size dump of pop philosophy. Illogic squared.
To be fair, though, to the film-maker and to the novelist from whose work the movie is adapted, the line may have been meant to be stupid, as a handy bit of character-exposition. Gump IS so very stupid vis a vis the ways of the world, while being so very SMART in other very important ways. (In the novel, by the way, he's portrayed as something of an idiot-savant, adept in Physics and Math, which keeps his grades up for football.)
However, "Momma" is portrayed as being much more worldly-wise than her son. If her philosophy of Life and Luck, other than being in good fun, is to be taken seriously--and Forrest has more than his share of tragedy in an otherwise well-spent life--then it fails in the following respects, in ascending order of importance:
- There's most often a "actual-size" map/key printed on the inside cover of the box indicating the varied make-up of each chocolate confection in their separate compartments. If you can read, then you'll "know what you're gonna get." Nary a soupcon of Luck involved.
- Even if you can't read, or can't even see, there's a SKILL to be developed by the inveterate boxed-chocolate-sampler sampler. (The element of skill is also what hurts Woody Allen's net-court analogy.) Set by industry tradition, the contents of each chocolate-covered piece is identifiable by its generic shape, in conjunction with a distinctive "swirl" on top. Nothing random about it.
- Assuming illiteracy or blindness or lack of bon-bon acuity, no matter what you randomly pick, you're still gonna get a CHOCOLATE something-or-other, for crying out loud, not a camouflaged pebble. "Momma wants you to try one one of these, Forrest, but watch out for the pebble look-a-likes" ... "But how am I supposed to know which-is-which, Momma?" ... "Just go ahead, son, I'm teaching you a lesson about Life." Much better analogy.
- Make a totally gut-wrenching pick? You can simply spit it out. Life works just like that, does it not?
I don't know if Momma was right or if it's Lieutenant Dan. I don't know if we each have a destiny [not really supported by her chocolate-box nostrum, however], or if we're all floating around accidental-like on a breeze, but I think maybe it's both. Maybe both is happening at the same time. I miss you Jenny.
Better ... but the white feather is so gratuitous. So inorganic to plot and character. At least the Wood Man makes the symbolism of the hovering net-court tennis ball tie in naturally with his mis en scene. Now, if Gump's feather had floated into his ear and given him a nasty infection ...