The screenwriter of Forrest Gump Eric Roth turned an adventure journey novel by Winston Groom into an iconic generational commentary. With additions of large historical content and a tragic yet beautiful love story this book became one of the most beloved and critically acclaimed movies of our time.
Eric Roth produced the adapted screenplay that eventually become the masterpiece that was Forrest Gump the motion picture. Roth born 1945 originally hailing from New York had attempted to write screenplays prior to Gump, producing two box-office flops in 1970’s before finding his rhythm in the story of Forrest Gump.
Roth as created other memorable works such as, The insider, Dr Seuss’ how the Grinch stole Christmas, Munich, The curious case of Benjamin Button.
On the Adaption of Forrest Gump
“ It was actually very freeing, none was going to do anything, It had been dead for like 9 years before I came on to it, I felt the permission to start from scratch ”
Roth did a tremendous amount of creative adaption in creating this screenplay. He added
He penned some of the most beloved and remembered quotes of recent cinematic history like the line “”Mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” Which was voted as the #40 movie quote by the American Film Institute (out of 100). Roth grew this quote from the line in the book saying “bein a idiot is no box of chocolates”
The writer, Eric Roth, departed substantially from the book. We flipped the two elements of the book, making the love story primary and the fantastic adventures secondary. Also, the book was cynical and colder than the movie. In the movie, Gump is a completely decent character, always true to his word. He has no agenda and no opinion about
anything except Jenny, his mother and God.”
—director Robert Zemeckis
Roth essential changed the Genre of Forrest Gump from a fantasy adventure book to a movie about the love, loss and growth of a generation and triumphs and joys of simplicity.
This showcased the best side of the process of adaptation, taking a work and making it into something iconic.
Roth on the adaptation process
“Try to maintain the spirit of the piece, find the soul and the voices and be consistent with that”
The love story
In the book the love story of Forrest and Jenny exists but not to the extent that is does in the movie. Roth instantly saw the need to play up the Forrest/ Jenny story as the “emotional spine” of the movie.