The film Forrest Gump really relates to Benjamin’s theory to reproduction and to Berger’s theory to how your placement affects how you experience an art. Forrest Gump is a very well known film for its touching story line and cinematography. The film has a star studded cast of Tom Hanks being (Forrest Gump). The movie is about a witty boy named Forrest Gump who is eventually going to grow up during various historical time periods. The time periods are from 1944 to 1981. The movie has a great depiction where Gump is a part of the Vietnam War and he goes through times of the Water Gate Scandal and the Hippie Movement. This movie has attained various academy awards and over $667 million dollars worldwide during its theoretical run. This movie is so iconic that it has been reproduced in various ways to bring pieces of the film to everyone. As Walter Benjamin had said in his most famous philosophical essay “Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” that reproduction will destroy the true aura of an art in this case a film. Even though reproduction does distract from the original art it does great things to make an art more noticeable. Also in John Berger’s film Way of Seeing he says that the place you are in affects your view on the art you are witnessing.
Benjamin’s theory of Reproduction
Benjamin had said in his essay “Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” that reproduction is a bad thing because the aura or (authenticity) gets flawed. This happens to be because now everyone can get the art through pictures and the internet. He says that it destroys why the art was made and the thought that was put into this art. However the movie Forrest Gump has became more famous because of reproduction. The movie’s quotes and dialogues has been made into memes which eager’s a person to watch the movie. Iconic phrases such as “life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get,” are incorporated into inspirational pictures to calm a broken person that has lost hope. An Iconic restaurant was made from the movie called Bubba Gump Shrimp Company that has branched out to different locations. In the movie Gump meets Bubba in the army and his dream was to open up a shrimp restaurant where they made different kind of shrimps and call it Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. Many items like t-shirts and wearable items had Forrest Gump pictures and quotes on them found in various stores. There was even a scene where there was reproduction of words when Gump says “Shit Happens” and after that they started making labels that said “Shit Happens”.
John Berger’s theory in his film Ways of Seeing was that the place that you are located at and the background sounds you here all affect which kind of affect you get from the art. I do in fact believe it is true from my personal experience watching the film. It changes its significance because it teaches the audience different historical events which give the film a different feel. Watching the film in a loud place will not help you understand the emotional concept behind it. Being in a silenced place will help you feel emotional and give the film a different take then being in a loud place which degrades the film. This being said being in a place of solitude really helps you connect with the film and its message.
My Experience to Forrest Gump
The first time I saw the film Forrest Gump was in my A.P Government class with my fellow classmates and teacher. It was the end of the year and we were very excited to watch a film instead of taking an exam. The room was dark and quiet and everyone was really focused towards the film being projected on a large white screen. Even the classmates that I knew had watched the film were also focusing. I remember I was not sure how the film was going to be like because I have only heard of the movie. I remember I was emotionally attached to the film because I sat in the front of the class and really felt like I was sinking in the film. I noticed that being in a classroom setting and watching the film by myself was different.
I personally watched film four times in different places and different times in the day. The second time I watched it was at my house with my family, one time at a friend’s house and the last time was alone at night with all the lights off. Being at my house and watching the film wasn’t the same because I held back my emotions and I had to explain to them the historical context and emotional backgrounds. The third time around while I was at my friends house the movie seemed to be different because my friends would talk and give out spoilers. The environment was noisy and I found myself to lose track of the film. Finally the last time I watched it was when I was alone in my room and I noticed that I analyzed the film better than the first time that I watched the film in class. I remember looking up all the historical context the film had to offer because I was curious about what had happened in those events specifically so it gave me more knowledge. Being alone gives you a chance to reflect all the emotional qualities this film had whereas being with more people would impact your emotional reaction. This experience I had links to what Benjamin said
Berger’s Theory of Sound and It’s Affect
As for the background noise as Berger says it is there in that way to manipulate the audience. The sounds in the background are there to enhance the audience and make them react in a certain way. For example when I was watching the film I caught myself tearing up at the sad scenes more because there was sad music playing in the background. This would change if there was no music or some upbeat kind of music. Because the sad scene was paired up with the sad music it gave the general audience notion of it is time to be sad now. When Gump was in the army most of the scenes had sounds of gun shots and trumpet sounds which made the scenes more realistic. If there were only gun shots the scene would have a repetitive feel which was cancelled out with the music. The sounds do distract from an art because Berger suggests that “art should be witnessed in silence,” however if this was the case for Forrest Gump it would change the whole making of the film.
The Actor and the Camera
In Benjamin’s article he states that “the artistic performance of a stage actor is definitely presented to the public by the actor in person; that of the screen actor, however, is presented by a camera, with a twofold consequence.” With Benjamin’s article he talks about how the camera makes the actor and how he can be portrayed how the camera portrays him. It is very true as you see how the camera zooms into the actors face in this case it was Tom Hanks who was portrayed as Forrest Gump a witty boy turned into an easily gullible adult. The camera always came in contact with him from every angle. For example he was seen alone sitting on a bench in the beginning of the film holding a box of chocolates. The camera framed his emotions to how he was supposed to come out. Tom Hank is portrayed by the camera and the director’s vision but he has a way of not making that seem on screen. The actor and the camera have the most important relationship when making a film.
Incorporation to Reproduction
I believe reproduction has changed the way we see Forrest Gump but it is for a greater good. Some people may not have seen the film but they are familiar with it because of all of the phrases that are associated with the film. This curiosity promotes people to see the film and finally understand what they have seen as of reproduced items. As Benjamin says in his theory that reproduction can harm the original art but in this case it advances production and fame. Reproduction allows a person to witness something close to them easily without having to travel or miss an opportunity to see an art. As for Berger’s theory background noises and the location where I watched the film did affect my perspectives and emotions.
Nikita Zaman is a student at CSUN who enjoys listening to music.