Events of the Movie
The film opens up with the protagonist Forrest Gump. He is in fact patiently waiting at the bus stop when he begins to tell his life story to another woman also sitting at the bus stop. We learn at the beginning of the film that Forrest is not the brightest nor the smartest. He obtains an IQ that is below normal.
Due to the help of his mother, Forrest was able to enroll in school where he meets a beautiful girl named Jenny. Him and Jenny spent the majority of their time together and she became his “special friend.” In the next scene, we see that Jenny and Forrest are walking to school. There were three kids who starting bullying and throwing rocks at Forrest. Jenny then motivates Forrest to run away from the danger brought upon him. For the very first time, he ran so fast that he broke off his leg braces and this resulted in his opportunity to go to college and play college football. Surprisingly, after spending 5 years in college, Forrest graduated and got his college degree. Not long after graduating college, Forrest decides to enlist in the army. One his very first day, he makes a friend by the name of Bubba. Bubba and Forrest are alike when it comes to intelligence so they get along just well. Bubba explains to Forrest that he is into the Shrimping business and after the leave the army they plan on working together. Not long after being drafted into the Army, Forrest and Bubba are both sent to Vietnam. Once in Vietnam, Forrest’s group of men was attacked. During this attack, Forrest helped rescue many of the injured men in his troop.
As a result of the attack, Forrest lost his good friend Bubba and suffered from a gunshot wound in his “Buttock”. Later, he was awarded the congressional Medal of Honor for displaying such heroic actions in Vietnam. Not long after the war, Forrest discovers his amazing ability to play ping pong. He was so good at playing ping pong, he played against competitive Chinese ping pong teams. Ping pong paddle companies offer Forrest endorsements which results in him earning $25,000. Forrest invests this money by buying a shrimp boat to honor his promise to Bubba. Lieutenant Dan keeps his promise and asides Forrest as the commanding officer of the shrimp boat.
While working on the Shrimp boat, they encountered a hurricane that destroys all of the other boats and shrimp competitors. This results in Forrest and Lieutenant Dan catching large amounts of shrimp and bringing in a lot of profit. With the money earned they decide to enhance their business by buying more shrimp boats. Lieutenant Dan comes up with a brilliant idea to invest some of their money into the company, Apple Computer. At this point in the movie Forrest is really rich and finically stable. He soon discovers that his mother is really sick and dying. He decides that it is best if he spends time with her for her remaining days of life. Jenny returns soon after his mother’s death. She eventually sleeps with Forrest later on that night and then disappears again the next morning. Forrest maybe out of anger, decides to go for a run. He ended up running across the country numerous amounts of time. This run made Forrest famous and practically a running icon. Jenny spotted Forrest on Television and decided to reach out to him. Jenny wants him to visit her. This explains why Forrest is at the bus stop. Once arriving at Jenny’s apartment, he discovers that she has a young son and he is the father. The young boy is named after him and is really smart and intelligent. We soon learn that Jenny is suffering from a virus that the doctors cannot help nor treat. She explains that is it nothing the doctors can do at this point.
Signs of PTSD in the Film
As a way for comfort, Forrest offers Jenny and little Forrest to stay with him back in Greenbow, Alabama. Back in Greenbow, Jenny and Forrest FINALLY get married and they are glad to see a special guest. Lieutenant Dan arrives at the wedding with his new fiancé and “New Legs.” Lieutenant Dan also invested in him some prosthetic legs and they have a great wedding ceremony. They did not have a really big wedding, but instead a small formal one. Not long after being married to Jenny, Jenny passes away and is buried under their special tree. The film ends with Forrest and his son waiting for the school bus. It is little Forrest’s first day of school. Little Forrest explains that his is going to show his Curious George book to the class for show and tell. That particular book is the same book his grandma read to his dad. When then see the white feather falls from the pages of the book. As the bus leaves to take little Forrest to school, the white feather drifts away in the wind. After watching this film, I was able to identify different aspects and examples of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. In the film, I see majority of these aspects portrayed by those who survived the Vietnam War. Lieutenant Dan shows many signs that he is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
The film states that Lieutenant Dan has lost many family members due to fighting in American Wars. The first sign of PTSD with Lieutenant Dan is the scene after the war is finished. He finds out that he has lost both of his legs and he is upset the Forrest rescued him. He forcefully grabs Forrest out of the hospital bunk next to him and yells at him. He also blames Forrest for him being crippled and handicap. I consider this an example of PTSD because Lieutenant Dan is reliving the harsh moments and events that has happened in the war. Throughout the film I also noticed that he has a hard time accepting the fact that he is handicap and it often makes his really angry and upset. Another sign that Lieutenant Dan is dealing with PTSD is his problem with Flashbacks. After the war we notice that he spends most of his time staring off and caught in a trance. This is because he is having many flashbacks about the harsh things that took place during the Vietnam War. After the war, he was just very quiet and really isolated versus how we were introduced to him when Forrest and Bubba first arrived at Vietnam.
Lieutenant Dan also denied food and rarely ate. For Example, Forrest offered Lieutenant Dan an Ice Cream Cone and he refused to eat it. These display many signs of depression and this is why I choose to include these aspects because they are relevant to PTSD. While learning about PTSD in the course, I specifically remember that anxiety and depression are signs that a person is suffering from PTSD. I also remembered learning that most people who suffer from this disorder have fought in world wars, undergone traumatic and harsh incidents, and survived near death experiences. These all exemplify characteristics of PTSD in reference to Lieutenant Dan’s role in the movie Forrest Gump. Another scene that demonstrates PTSD is when Forrest has just finished his television interview in honor of him achieving his Gold Medal of Honor. He is then reunited with Lieutenant Dan who is sitting outside the Television Broadcast Studio.
Lieutenant Dan is really mean to Forrest and explains that his life has gone completely downhill since Forrest has rescued him. He explains that he lived in and old nasty motel and we see that he spends most of his time drinking. It is clear the he still has not accepted the fact the he is crippled and he used alcohol as a coping mechanism to help cover his problems. I also learned this semester that people who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder have a hard time adjusting to new environments and different setting. This is clearly shown with Lieutenant Dan and luckily Forrest comes around and helps him during this troubling time. Towards the end of the film, we are able to see how Lieutenant Dan has overcome his problems with PTSD. He is finally able to accept life and accept the things that has happened to him in Vietnam.
Movie and Army PTSD Cases Comparison
While on the Shrimp boat with Forrest, Lieutenant Dan finally creates a piece of mind for himself. Lieutenant Dan states, “Forrest, I never thanked you for saving my life.” Forrest then states, “He never actually said so, but I think he made his peace with God.” After that scene, it is evident that Lieutenant Dan has moved past the trauma that he suffered from during Vietnam. He was finally able to move on positively with his life and accept things for what they are. Like stated earlier, he invested in prosthetic legs so he can be able to walk again. He also got him a fiancé and began living a better life for himself. I really appreciate those people who enlist in the Army and are willing to fight for our country.
People in the Army often see things that they can not unseen and loose people that are very close to them. These all can create problems for those serving the country because in most cases, they suffer from the aftermath of these aspects. It is scientifically proven that most people who fight in world wars have long terms affects and suffer from PTSD. Those who are willing to serve are country are brave and should be honored for their dedication.