There is a great scene in the movie Forrest Gump when our hero meets John Lennon. Forrest is invited to appear on The Dick Cavett show to discuss his recent trip to trip to China. John Lennon is the other guest and Forrest sits in the middle of the two men. The host Cavett asks Forrest, “Can you, uh, tell us, uh what was China like?” Forrest replies, “Well, in the land of China, people hardly got nothing at all.” Lennon interrupts, “No Possessions?” Forrest continues, “And in China, they never go to church.” Lennon: “No religion, too?” Cavett: “Oh. Hard to Imagine.” Lennon: “Well, it’s easy if you try, Dick.” Of course most of us recognize these as famous lines from John Lennon’s hit song Imagine. The inference of course is that Forrest’s serendipitous meeting with John Lennon led to the song’s lyrics.
What did you think when you saw this scene for yourself? Did you laugh at the irony of the words being said in the conversation, recognizing what they implied? Did you ponder the simplicity of Forrest’s observations in a foreign land? Or did you simply squint at the screen to detect the CGI effects and wonder, “How did they DO that?!?”
The screen play writer, producers and director of the movie Forrest Gump certainly used their imagination as well as great talent when they inserted Forrest into historical archived video footage throughout the movie. They used this technique several times, including the dramatic scene at the University of Alabama with George Wallace, as well as appearances with Presidents Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon. In the Cavett scene, Forrest is inserted in place of Yoko Ono.
John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s first appearance on The Dick Cavett Show aired September 11, 1971. They were the only guests on the show that evening and John wore a green army shirt that he explained was given to him by a Vietnam veteran. Yoko wore a somewhat strange and unflattering orange jump suit. But from the movie Forrest Gump, we never saw that because Forrest replaced Yoko by the magic of digital visual effects. Ken Ralston and his team at Industrial Light & Magic were responsible for the film’s really cool visual effects. Interestingly, Cavett actually played himself for the filming, using makeup to appear as young as the 70’s version of himself.
So why do we care? Is it all just entertainment and for fun? Of course Forrest Gump the movie was written, produced, directed, & cast just like all the other thousands of movies that have been created throughout time. But wouldn’t you agree, it stands the test of time much better then most? It somehow struck a nerve with the world with its combination of great writing, acting, soundtrack and visual effects. Forrest Gump inspired our imaginations. And John Lennon’s Imagine is ironically complimentary to the life of Forrest Gump. Just as Forrest lived his life in integrity, presence and with receptiveness, John Lennon imagined a more gump-like world in which religion didn’t divide, possessions didn’t become false idols and people lived for today.
John Lennon challenged us to think about these ideals in the lyrics of Imagine. Forrest Gump challenged us to act on these ideals by his example. Imagine … if the world could live with Gumption!
Next Blog Title: When Begging Forgiveness Trumps Prior Approval
Next Blog Date: Thursday, April 22, 2010