Both the novel The Story of Tom Brennan by J. C Burke and the film Forrest Gump by Robert Zemeckis explores the experiences various characters have that result in change and transition in realistic way. Both Burke and Zemeckis explore these experiences by using a variety of techniques, particularly flashbacks and many forms of imagery that relate to their fears, the way people deal with crisis and friendship in a in which the viewer can relate to them making it more realistic.
In The Story of Tom Brennan, Burke explores the experiences many characters have that relate to fear and the various barriers in their lives that result in change and transition. Burke uses a metaphor when Tom describes his room as ‘a cave’ which strongly suggests the idea that as a result of his fear he changes by becoming isolated from everyone and finds it difficult to move into the world from past experiences.
Burke uses an accumulation of negative memories from Tom’s perspective ‘the fear in Fin’s eyes, the empty stare of Luke, the way Nicole looked like she was sleeping’ to accentuate the negative experiences Tom has encountered and unsettle the viewer as well as to stress the difficulty he has in his transition in which the viewer can relate to. She also uses a flashback that was triggered from Tom’s memories to explore his past experiences of negative events on the night of the accident as well as create empathy in the viewer towards Tom.
Likewise, in Forest Gump we are shown similar aspects of fear through the various experiences characters have had and how it results in the change and transition. In a similar sense to Burke, Zemekis uses a flashback to explore the negative experiences Jenny had as a child when she got harassed by her father. Like The Story of Tom Brennan, the flashback encourages a sense of empathy from the audience towards Jenny and explores her fear in a realistic way by allowing the viewer to connect their own fears with Jenny’s and create tension in the audience.
In the present, Zemekis uses an element of familiarity when there are a series of still shots taken of Jenny and her old house which draws a remembrance between the two. The house triggers the horrors of Jenny’s childhood and suggests she finds it difficult to put away her past and move on due to her negative experiences as a child. The flashback is essential as it underlines the idea of fears causing change and effecting transition in a realistic way.
Burke also explores the ways various characters deal with hardships in their lives that result in change and transition of the individual in a realistic way. The motif of black is used to symbolise the state of despair of the characters which is evident in the flashback when Tom says ‘I felt the darkness grow inside me. ’ This effectively emphasises the negative experiences Tom had encountered in the past and shows how it contributed to his feelings of despair and a change in individual.
Burke uses a metaphor in ‘The St. Johns game was a hill, just another hill to climb in my journey; then life would plateau for a while’ to show a positive change in Tom’s attitude and to competently emphasise how Tom has learned to deal with difficult events due to his previous hardships, which is something many young people can link to their own lives. Burke uses listing to explore Tom’s previous experiences when he says ‘he taught me how to kick and pass, how to rise my eyebrow, how to ride a bike… which develops a forgiving tone towards Daniel showing the change in Tom who previously felt despaired and distant from his brother due to his foolish and irresponsible act but now however developed and changed as a result of his positive response to his hardships. In a similar way, Zemeckis uses the same motif of black when there is a mid range shot to capture the negative change in Jenny’s life when she is using illicit drugs with her friends.
It effectively demonstrates how her experiences have made her act this way. In contrast when Forrest has to deal with Jenny’s death, Zemekis uses a close up shot in a flashback on Forrest and his son to capture the close proximity of the two as well as to emphasise a positive change in Forrest. It also shows how Forrest’s relationship with his son is built upon through this experience by learning to proceed with his transition as an individual.
During The Story of Tom Brennan, Burke explores the various friendships certain characters have between each other and how they result in change and transition for the individuals in a way that the viewer can relate to. Through the use of symbolism when Tom gives a series of photographs to Daniel, it allows Burke to explore the relationship they have between each other in the past as well as to allude to the strong friendship they once had. Despite Daniel’s reckless behaviour, Tom learns to move forward in life nd to leave the past behind. When Matt’s mother says ‘How are you Tom? How’s it going? We’ve been thinking of you’ it develops an affectionate tone towards Tom which encourages a sense of relief. This is significant as it shows how Tom’s friend and family are becoming closer with Tom in order to help him move forward despite any shame his family may have caused. The motif of hills is used to symbolise the difficulties each character goes through.
This metaphor is shown when Brendan is jogging with Tom to show the strong friendship they have developed as well as to symbolise how Brendan helps Tom put away his past in order to move on into the world. In a similar way, Zemeckis uses the metaphor of a tree when Forrest says ‘Jenny taught me how to climb’ which is symbolic of the strong friendship they have developed from an experience and shows how Forrest is able to proceed with his transition in life due to the help of Jenny.
In flashback, when Forrest is just a kid we are shown how Jenny encourages Forrest when Zemeckis uses as tracking shot to capture how Forrest tries to run away from the kids chasing him on bicycles. The use of a slow motion shot captures the symbolism of Forrest’s leg braces breaking which stresses how Forrest has learned how to break past the things that are stopping him from moving forward in life from his transition due to the encouragement of his great friend Jenny.
This is significant as it competently demonstrates to the viewer how breaking past the things that are stopping you from moving into the world can prove to be beneficial. In conclusion, Burke effectively explores the experiences humans have and shows how thy result in some sort of change or transition through the use of a variety of techniques such as flashbacks and many forms of imagery in a realistic way. Likewise, Zemeckis explores the experiences various characters have to demonstrate how they change and proceed with transition in their lives in a way in which viewers can relate to it.
Courtney from Study Moose
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