English Note

Forrest Gump|Listening South American English with famous film|Modern American history

(26, February, 2023)

This article is about;
Forrest Gump(1994), a famous human story starring Tom Hanks.
・Film information, Trailer Video and Plots.
・Review as study material for English listening training.
・Pick up some scenes related to modern American history featured in the movie.

※Writer is a Japanese who is learning English as a second language.


I have watched the famous human story Forrest Gump(1994) starring Tom Hanks. This article will bring you information such as Trailer Video and Plots. As an English learner myself for second language, I review the film as study material for English listening training.
This movie features some interesting & important events in modern  American history, which I will show you with some images.

2.Film information of Forrest Gump

Title Forrest Gump
Genre Human story
Country United States
Running Time 142 minutes
Release in 1994
Director Robert Zemeckis
Starring Tom HanksSally Field
Robin Wright
Gary Sinise
Mykelti Williamson
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Based on Forrest Gump by Winston Groom

Reference: Wikipedia Forrest Gump

・Trailer video

Here is the trailer of Forrest Gump. It is just a 3 minutes video, in which you can see the main character wildly running all around the world.

Title:Forrest Gump – Trailer
YouTube Channel:Paramount Movies

・Rough plot of the film

Forrest Gump lives in Greenbow, Alabama. He was named ‘Forrest’ after Nathan Bedford Forrest, a founder of Ku Klux Klan(KKK). Gump means a foolish or stupid person in southern American slang.
Forrest is a retarded child, and he is bullied in his childhood except a girl named Jenny. Gump and Jenny make good friends. When he is bullied by school mates, Jenny cheered him up saying ‘Run, Forrest, run!‘, which he will follow the advice for lifetime.
He literally keeps on running; in College football, and in the Vietnam battlefield as US army, where he meets his soulmate Bubba, and runs and runs all over the world, all the time. After the war, he starts business and meets Jenny again. What happens next finally in Forrest’s life of running?

・Modern American histories seen in the film

Forrest encounters many historical moments. Those scenes are not serious, but are rather funny like parody and not related to the main story. You can see/enjoy modern American history of the 1960’s~80’s when the world was changing drastically. Here are some examples with images from the film.

Civil Rights Movement

University of Alabama Desegregated(1963)

Assassination of John F. Kennedy(1963)

Big and sad event in American history.

Vietnam War(1960~1975)

Forrest enters the US army and joins the war. You can see youth’s counter culture like the Hippie movement in the film.

Watergate scandal(1972~1974)

Forrest encounters the historical moment that leads to President Nixon’s step down.

Murder of John Lennon(1980)

Forrest appears on TV show, together with John.

As above images, you can see/feel modern American history through watching Forrest Gump. Have fun studying it.

3.Review of Forrest Gump as study material for English listening

Reviewing Forrest Gump as English learning material for listening, it is not highly recommended; 3.5 stars(among 5).
Main character is from Alabama and speaks with Southern American accent, which I had difficulty comprehending at first. However, as Forrest speaks slowly with easy words, gradually I get used to it and am able to comprehend. Due to its accent, it is not much recommended as a study material for every learner. If you are an intermediate learner with TOEIC score over 800, you can try and will be able to comprehend. However, the film itself is interesting and you can study American history at the same time, so it can be recommended overall for you to give it just a try.

・Pros and Cons~Southern American accent

Forrest Gump is highly recommended due to its interesting human story. On the other hand, in terms of watching it for English listening training, it is not always recommended for its Southern American accent. Here are Pros and Cons.


・Simply you can enjoy the story.
Story evolves mainly with conversations, so you can concentrate on English listening training.
・You can study modern history of the United States.
・You can enjoy the story and concentrate on listening to English at the same time.


・Main character’s accent is strongly southern. If you are a beginner of English learning and watching it for learning purposes, it is not much recommended.
・Characters’ hearts/thoughts are not deeply expressed. I do not sympathize with them personally.

Just for example, southern American English sounds like;
→’Something’ sounds like [s’amnn]. *Cannot hear the sound of ‘-thing’.
→’Captain’ sounds like [c’apnn].

Quoting the famous phrase ’Momma said stupid is as stupid does’ as in the trailer (0:18), it also sounds unique in Southern accent. It may surprise beginners of English learning, but you will get used to it gradually while watching the movie.

・Review~Good human story but is too high-evaluated

My review of Forrest Gump simply as a movie is 3.8 stars (among 5). You can enjoy the good human story and study modern American history at the same time.
Seeing reviews on the Internet, most reviews are 5 stars. However, I think it is overrated because the film does not express characters’ hearts/thoughts and backgrounds well. For example, I don’t understand why Forrest loves Jenny so much. There are no convincing scenes of his forever love for Jenny. Similar to that, I don’t know why Lieutenant Dan changed his mind to cooperate with Forrest at last. I hope the original novel expresses well on those psychologies. Except those trivial points(Sorry for my complaints), the film is wonderful overall, so it is simply recommended to try watching.

4.Epilogue~Bubba Gump Shrimp in reality

This article brought you Film information of Forrest Gump, as well as Trailer, Plot and Reviews. It was a good experience for me to feel southern American English; I could comprehend it well gradually while watching the movie.
As a Japanese, I thought it’s interesting that the United States has different local accents. Even in small country Japan, there are so many different accents and dialects; from North to South and East to West. So, it is a natural thing that the vast country of the US also has them. It is an interesting thing.
In the film, Forrest encounters many historical events. As 1960’s to 80’s has history of great change, it is quite interesting to see the portion of them.

On the other hand, Forrest launches shrimp business in the film; the company is named ‘Bubba Gump Shrimp‘. Actually, Bubba Gump Shrimp restaurant franchises exist in the real world all over the US, Mexico, Japan, Indonesia and so on.
After watching the movie, you must feel like visiting the restaurant for real.

International Locations of Bubba Gump Shrimp

Hope you enjoyed this article and it helped your learning maybe.

Back to Chapter 2 to check Film Information



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