Armond White Movie Review of the film “Forrest Gump” and the documentary “Freedom On My Mind” (QUOTE from the book “The Resistance: Ten Years of Pop Culture That Shook The World”)


102)   Armond White Movie Review of the film Forrest Gump and the documentary film Freedom On My Mind.      -1994-





” ‘My fantasies were being played out for me in real life,’ says Curtis Hayes, one of the Freedom Summer participants who get to tell their




story of the climax of the civil rights struggle in Freedom On My Mind.  This documentary examines the fantasies of real life, a significant contrast to Forrest Gump, which dangerously, deceptively, turns real life into fantasy…”


Curtis Hayes, a large, bearded, affable Black man and Mississippi native who picked cotton as a child, now works on agrarian projects in Africa.  Looking back, he says, ‘I had always wanted to be in a position where I could fight the white man and win.’  Freedom on My Mind shows how Curtis Hayes and many others — Black and white — got their chance to oppose injustice.  Freedom Summer in 1964 set the course for the rest of their lives…”


“There’s such a shapely, moralistic tone to these stories — dismay, mission, depression, determination, caution, courage — that Freedom On My Mind sometimes suggests fable.  Directors Connie Field and Marilyn Mulford put together contemporary color interviews with black-and-white footage (old and new) that make elegant transitions between present and past, history and legend.  They’re dealing with the artsy, liberal…”


Bob Moses’s truth gets glossed over in Forrest Gump.  Tom Hanks plays the title role of a saintly, slightly retarded, innocent white man recounting his observations of the last forty years of American history.  Director Robert Zemeckis (Back To The Future) and screenwriter Eric Roth commendably balance incidents of human cruelty with shrewdly turned humor:  The medical stupors of the fifties contrast with the rise of rock ‘n’ roll; sixties protests contrast with eighties self-improvement.  Forrest Gump strides — runs — through it all as witness and noncommittal participant.  He recalls the portentous idiot savant Chauncey Gardiner of Being There and the ahistorical media freak of Woody Allen’s Zelig — pop figures created to pacify history — but he is nothing like the real-life participants in history seen in Freedom On My Mind…”


“…Tom Hanks beatific acting has the gracefulness missing from his other bogus zeitgeist performance in…”


“…Forrest Gump succeeds in life, becomes more confident, through inadvertence.  The contrast of Freedom On My Mind shows how this distorts the self-actualizing processes of anyone who achieves real growth.  Forrest Gump, who delivers his memoir while seated Beckett-like at a Savannah busstop, has a pseudo-Southern homily: ‘Life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re gonna get.’  But that pales next to the lessons learned by the white Northern debutantes who went South in faith, or of Dr. Endesha Ida Mae Holland, a Mississippi native who…”






To read more of Armond White’s take on the documentary film Freedom On My Mind and the Robert Zemickis fiction film Forrest Gump, purchase a new or used copy of The Resistance: Ten Years of Pop Culture That Shook The World


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