SCREENPLAY 101: FORREST GUMP

Today we take a seat on a bus bench on the humble streets of Savannah, Georgia to discuss number 89 on the WGA 101 list - which, if the Southern setting was no indicator, is FORREST GUMP (screenplay by Eric Roth and based on the novel by Winston Groom). We bring to you the opening scene script pages dating to Aug. 25 1993 which include one of the most repeated adages of our time: "Mama always said, 'Life was like a box of chocolate...you never know what you're going to get.'" We can't help but fall in love immediately with Forrest as we see him for the first time: curious, sweet, and entirely at ease in his own skin, something all of us instantly admire. And how can we not? Eric Roth has painted us the most endearing character simply through this one line description: "He has the body and the face of a man, and the eyes of a boy."

And then there is the non sequitur about the shoes - only it is not a non sequitur. It is the guiding motif that shoots us back into Forrest's childhood and eventually to Forrest's grand feat of running across the country.

What makes this a beautifully brilliant opening scene is that it quickly and concisely sets up the world of FORREST GUMP, and of course Forrest Gump himself. From the feather that floats down at his feet (emphasizing the fleeting randomness of experiences), to the way that Forrest delicately stores the feather inside his Curious George book, we make the sympathetic connection that leads us through a masterful series of events.

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My personal suggestion is if you haven't yet seen FORREST GUMP, tell your friends that tonight's plans are cancelled, lock yourself in your home, and don't leave until you've watched this movie. Once you've done so, congratulate yourself by going to Bubba Gump's Shrimp Company. You'll know what I mean afterward.

Here’s the deal: Throughout 2014, we’re posting pages from every script on the WGA’s list of the 101 Greatest Screenplays, as chosen by Guild membership, because we have every one in our library. Sure, we have other scripts that didn’t make it onto the list, either because they didn’t make the cut or because they were produced after the list was generated (presumably SHARKNADO, which we totally have a copy of, is only in the latter category).