Saturday, October 31, 2009

FORREST GUMP - Sapphire Edition Bluray (Paramount 1994) Paramount Home Video

“The world will never be the same once you’ve seen it through the eyes of Forrest Gump” (1994); so declared publicity campaigns for director Robert Zemeckis’ ambitious and sweeping fable about a simpleton, (Tom Hanks) whose perspective and insights about the flawed world around him proved to be both clairvoyant and poignant recollections on world events during the turbulent 1960s and 70s.

After being told that he will never walk without the aid of leg braces, young Forrest breaks free of his irons, goes on to become a college football star, a decorated Viet Nam war hero, the CEO of a lucrative shrimp business, and finally, husband to ill-fated Jenny Curran (Robin Wright Penn) the girl of his dreams and father to young Forrest (Haley Joel Osmond). Along the way, Forrest learns a life lesson often forgot by even the most intelligent among us – that life’s journey is a gift, one that grows more sweetly rich and stirring with the passage of time.

The screenplay by Eric Roth is based on Winston Groom's poignant novel and manages to capture that kernel of truth about humanity and the purest among us that the book so tenderly conveys. Don Burgess cinematography is subtly evocative. He captures the essence of the 60s and 70s without going full out nostalgic or meticulously detailed.

As for the film, it is a thoroughly moving epic that takes dead aim at our hearts. Zemekis' great gift for making the implausible as tangible as the world outside our windows infuses the film with a genuine humanity that is undeniable and heartwarming. Gary Sinise is magnificent as Lt. Dan Taylor – a hot shot military man until a bomb robs him of his legs. Sally Fields excels as Forrest’s mother, a woman determined to see that her son lives a full and useful life – despite what everyone else around Forrest misperceives to be his limitations.

What makes Forrest Gump so remarkable is its handling of the central character. Like Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man (1988), Tom Hanks’ brilliant central performance is a finely wrought tapestry of thoughtful, well placed and subtly nuanced introspection. As an audience, we do indeed ‘see the world’ through Forrest’s eyes. His elation is ours – his heartbreaks too. Director Zemeckis never allows sympathy or stereotype to dictate or override our emotional response to the character, the poignancy derived from Eric Roth’s masterfully conceived screenplay.

Paramount Home Video’s Blu-Ray easily bests its DVD from some years ago. The image has been brought up to1080p, removing much, though not all of the woeful age related artifacts and color fading that seem to plague Paramount's standard DVD. Colors are much more vibrant and natural in appearance. Flesh tones are quite stunning and the new clarity in the transfer registers fine details as never before seen. The audio also gets a much needed sonic upgrade with a DTS-HD master that will give your speakers a considerable workout.

Extras are plentiful and it's about time. Most of the featurettes are presented in HD - most welcomed. Audio commentaries are direct imports from the SD disc as are a number of brief featurettes discussing music and production design.

Bottom line: highly recommended!

FILM RATING (out of 5 - 5 being the best)



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