Within the movie Forrest Gump historical references are extremely important to the plot of the film. The historical references work to establish this film as a cultural icon and a cenamatic commentary of a generation. This film touchs on so many iconic historical elements from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s that it has become a one of the most beloved films of all time.

The historical events don’t overlap from the book to the movie and are exclusively a defining feature of the motion picture. Tom Hanks signed on to do Forrest Gump an hour and half after reading the script written by Eric Roth on the condition that the historical elements of the film were to be as accurate as possible.

One of the most endearing elements of this film is the way Forrest witnesses these historical events and preceives them just as a simple man and takes them all at face value.

Famous Appearances

Forrest Gump manages to meet a lot of famous people in his time, many that were no longer alive. This phenomenon was achieved using special effects to insert Tom Hanks into pre-existing video recordings of these people.

In the scene with John Lennon at the Dick Cavette show, this was actually taken from Lennon’s appearance on September 11, 1971 at the show with Yoko Ono and Tom hanks actually replaces her spot in the movie.In the movie Forrest is the one who inspires John Lennon to write the cultural iconic song “Imagine“.   The same technique was used in the Scenes with President Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon.



In the film it is Forrest who discovers the Watergate scandal by complaining of lights keeping him up in his hotel across from the Watergate building. In the film Gump calls security guard Frank Wills who was the actual guard on duty during that night who discovered the break in on June 17th 1972, that lead to discovering of the full extent of the Watergate scandal

War in Vietnam

In the movie Forrest enlists in the army and is sent to fight in Vietnam as a part of the 9th infantry division.In Vietnam Lt. Dan wore a rosary inscribed with “Protect Us In Combat” a necklace actually worn by Gary Sinise’s bother-in-law Jack Treese in 1967-68.

Throughout the scenes involving the war a stuble commentary of legitamacy of the war is provided.Forrest provides a simple viewpoint of the Vietnam war providing valuable insight unhindered by biases and politics, “Sometimes when people go to Vietnam, they go home to their mommas without any legs. Sometimes they don’t go home at all. That’s a bad thing. That’s all I have to say about that.” Forrest says this quote while accidently stumbling on an anti- vietnam peace rally in washington.

Ping Pong

In both the Movie and the Book adaptations of Forrest Gump, Forrest becomes a national Ping Pong Player that travels to China. Although events in both the book and movie are greatly exaggerated, but it is true that a ping pong team was the first group of Americans to visit china since 1949.


The Running sequence in the movie in which Forrest runs across the country. This was inspired by Louis Michael Figueroa who ran from New Jersey to San Francisco for the American Cancer Society, and uttered the now famous lines used in the movie “I just put one foot in front of the other,” it goes. “When I get tired I sleep. When I get hungry I eat. When I have to go to the bathroom, I go.”


Music plays an important role in the Film it helps invoke memories of the era in which Forrest Gump is set. Some argue that the greatest music of time was produced in era and movie pays homage to that in many ways with appearances by John Lennon and featuring the music of the Doors most frequently within the film with 6 songs including: “Soul Kitchen” (in one of the Vietnam scenes), “Hello, I Love You” (first song in Gump’s first ping pong sequence), “People Are Strange” (second song in Gump’s first ping pong sequence), “Break On Through” (third song in Gump’s first ping pong sequence), “Peace Frog” (during a New York scene with Lt.Dan) and “Love Her Madly” (when Jenny is leaving her abusive boy friend).


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