Gorgeous time-lapse in Forrest Gump

I’ve seen the movie so many times and every time I watch it, there is something new, I haven’t noticed before. Recently, thanks to Mike Seymour from fxguide.com, I’ve discovered another great example of cinematic storytelling.

Time-lapse is a technique of taking still frames at much lower speed, than they will be played back. There are various uses for the time-lapse sequences, for example filming processes that are too subtle to be noticed by the human eye, or, when used creatively, to show a passage of time in a movie.

The time-lapse scene in Forrest Gump takes place between a scene where Forrest and Jenny get married and the following scene, when Jenny is very sick, lying in the bed and knowing, that she is dying. The filmmakers could have used other techniques to forward the time,  for example titles saying “few months later” or some kind of dissolve between the scenes, but they didn’t, they chose the time-lapse, which works perfectly.

I have to admit, that I wouldn’t probably notice it, if I wouldn’t listen to the podcast at fxguide. But that’s why I love the movie so much! There are thousands of visual effects in this movie, but all of them are serving the story. Either by enhancing it, emphasizing certain points, or enabling filmmakers to film something, which wouldn’t be otherwise possible.

Forrest Gump (1994)
Forrest Gump (1994)

Now, let’s look closely at the scene in question. Forrest and Jenny are walking, together with young Forrest, back to the house of Forrest’s mother. The camera starts low and then tilts up and becomes stationary – at that moment, you’ll see that the shadows start to move rapidly across the road – showing thus the passage of time.

Forrest Gump (1994) - Clean Plate
Forrest Gump (1994) – Clean Plate

The filmmakers probably shot firstly the scene with characters in it, then, from exactly the same spot, they filmed a short time-lapse sequence of shadows moving across the road and then composited these two shots together.

The time-lapse sequence in Forrest Gump is a great example of cinematic storytelling and at the same time, a great example of using visual effects to tell a story. Beautiful!


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