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Faunce, B.K. (1996). Little Women and Forrest Gump. Psychoanal. Rev., 83(1):132-137.

(1996). Psychoanalytic Review, 83(1):132-137

Little Women and Forrest Gump

B. K. Faunce

In spite of technical problems and a few structural inconsistencies, both Little Women and Forrest Gump were box-office hits, received Academy Award nominations in several categories, and provoked a wide-ranging debate about the ways in which visual narratives reflect and reinforce modern American culture.1 Gump has been called “America's inner child(Kauffman, 1994) and his story one “long drink at the fountain of popsocial memory(Corliss, 1994), while the Marches resemble an “idealized version of the contemporary American family” (Lurie, 1995). Both films are nostalgic reenactments of the past, cinematic fairy tales that re-envision history through the experiences of the child, and the childlike. Their appeal stems, at least in part, from their ability to tap into a collective longing for an environment that is more responsive to the demands of the individual, the utopian dream of a benevolent universe, but it also provides a useful subtext for venting concern over the shifting roles and responsibilities of the individual, the family, and the larger society. Daily footage of the bombing in Oklahoma City, congressional hearings on Waco and Ruby Ridge, the O. J. Simpson spectacle, and Susan Smith's death-watch have all contributed to the image of a culture fascinated by its own decline. For many viewers, private demons dance in the public square, and, from this perspective, it is possible that the attraction of the two films has less to do with their methods of production than with the fantasies they promote.

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