"Forrest Gump" is an iconic movie. The plot follows a simple man from Alabama that always ends up right in the middle of some of the history’s biggest moments from the mid to late 20th century. A major factor that makes this film so memorable is the soundtrack. It is made up of many songs that were popular during certain scenes in the movie. What is even more impressive is that the songs almost always seem to have some sort of connection to what is happening in the movie. There are some songs that appeal to logos, some that go with pathos, and others that correlate with ethos. In this blog post, I will be discussing three songs that deal with ethos, logos, and pathos from this famous movie.
In one of the first scenes of the movie, we see a young Forrest Gump showing Elvis Presley his dance moves. After this, “Hound Dog” by Elvis Presley begins to play. This song was very recognizable, even into the 90’s when this movie was released. Elvis is one of the most famous Rock ‘n’ Roll singers ever, and because his song is featured first in the movie, this gives the film credibility (ethos). After hearing this, the audience is more likely to pay attention to the rest of the movie to hear what other songs might play. The song does not really have anything that enhances the tone or theme of the movie. It simply gives the audience a familiar song that they will recognize and enjoy right off the bat.
A couple scenes after Forrest shows Elvis his dance moves, he goes to visit Jenny at her college. Forrest is waiting on Jenny, and he eventually sees her with another guy. The guy starts to make moves on her, so Forrest goes to “save” her. When he gets there, Jenny and the guy begin to yell at her. Eventually, the guy leaves and Jenny is still upset with Forrest. The song that plays in the background is “(I Don’t Know Why) But I Do” by Clarence Henry. Part of the chorus says, “I don’t know why I love you, but I do.” This song is supposed to appeal to the audience’s emotions (pathos). The audience knows that Jenny is does not really treat Forrest like she should, but he continues to love her and be there for her. It is only appropriate that a song about constantly loving someone plays in the background. In Everything’s an Argument by Andrea Lunsford, she states, “Emotional appeals, or pathos, generate emotions that the writer hopes will lead the audience to accept a claim.” In the case for this scene, the writer and director want the audience to feel pity for Forrest, and they accomplish this by choosing this song.
Forrest is eventually sent off to fight in the Vietnam War. While he is flying in on a helicopter, “Fortunate Son” by Creedence Clearwater Revival begins to play.This song was released in 1969, right in the middle of when the Vietnam War was happening. By analyzing the lyrics and taking into consideration when the song was from, it is clear that this song was written in opposition to US involvement in the Vietnam War. There is one part of the song that goes, “It ain’t me, it ain’t me, I ain’t no senator’s son, son/ It ain’t me, it ain’t me; I ain’t no fortunate one, no.” Basically, the singer is saying he is not as important as the senator’s son, so they will just send him off to fight in the war. If members of the audience are informed about history, they will know that this war was very controversial and there were many people that believed US soldiers should not be sent to Vietnam. With that being said, this particular song choice is supposed to appeal to the logic of the audience (logos).
This soundtrack could be argued as one of the best in movie history. There are countless hits and and a number of all time classics. That is why it is extremely easy for the music from Forrest Gump to receive five out of five stars.