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Guerrieri and Hurlimann 1 Megan Guerrieri & Mike Hurlimann Movie Analysis #2 Forrest Gump Communication Theory Swarts

ts December 2, 2013 Every person loves to hear a good story. Why else would we read books or see movies with the same general plotline as many others that came before it, yet we still spend the money to be entertained. Forrest Gump is one movie where a story is told inside of a story. It embodies the Narrative Paradigm theory of communication, the one where it is stated that all human beings are storytellers. (text) Our paper will focus on applying different aspects of the Narrative Paradigm theory to Forrest Gump in an attempt to bring the theory to life. We will start by going through the assumptions of Narrative Paradigm and their presence in Forrest Gump. Each of the assumptions has a narrative world version and a rational world version. The first assumption of Narrative Paradigm is that humans are natural storytellers. (text) In Forrest Gump, almost the entire film is comprised of Forrest telling a series of stories to strangers while sitting at a bus stop. The second assumption of Narrative Paradigm is that decisions about a storys worth are based on good reasons. (text) People choose to believe Forrests stories because of the good reasons that they apply to him, his character, and his stories. Going along with this is the third assumption of Narrative Paradigm good reasons are determined by history, biography, culture, and character. The fourth assumption of Narrative Paradigm is that rationality is based on peoples judgments of a storys consistency and truthfulness. Some of Forrests stories are far-fetched and hard to believe, like when he is responsible for reporting the break-in at the Watergate

Guerrieri and Hurlimann 2 building, or when he helps inspire John Lennon to write his popular song, Imagine. However unbelievable his stories may sound, one cant help but to believe him because of the good reasons and sense of character he presents. The fifth and final assumption of Narrative Paradigm is that we experience the world as filled with stories and we must choose among them which to believe and which to discount. (text) The people at the bus stop with Forrest are choosing to believe his story out of the number that they may have heard that day. Storytelling is present in every culture around the world. It is up to us to figure out which ones we are going to hold as true and allow to shape us. This goes along with the term paradigm shift. A paradigm shift occurs when an individual changes the way they see the world and its meaning. (text) This term encompasses all of the assumptions of the theory that find themselves in Forrest Gump. In the film, Forrest changes the lives of people he comes in contact with, giving them a paradigm shift. A few examples of this are Forrests effect on Lieutenant Dan and Jenny. Lieutenant Dan blames Forrest for all of his problems after Lt. Dan gets his legs amputated after the war and he mocks Forrest. Later in the movie, Forrest sees Lt. Dan again and he tells Forrest how he changed his life and thanks him for saving his life during the war. Jenny is Forrests lifelong friend who, after graduating high school, enters Forrests life on several different occasions. The first two times, Jennys life had gone in a completely different direction than Forrests had she became a part of the hippie movement the first time, and the second time, was addicted to drugs and in an abusive relationship. Forrest proposes to Jenny the third time they meet. She refuses and leaves early the next morning after her and Forrest make love. She returns a few years later with Forrests son, Forrest Jr., and consents to

Guerrieri and Hurlimann 3 marry Forrest. Even though she doesnt come out and tell Forrest that she changed her life and her perspective on life, it is obvious in the way that she acts. There are two standards one can use to determine a storys credibility. They are coherence and fidelity. Coherence has to do with the consistency of the story. (text) There are three types of coherence, structural, material, and charcterological. Structural coherence refers to the flow of the story. (text) In the film, Forrests story follows the events of his life. There is a structural coherence to his stories because he doesnt leave any of the important details out, he explains every event of his life. Material coherence refers to the congruence between one story and other related stories. (text) Forrests stories follow material coherence because they coincide with the stories of the other characters. Finally, characterological coherence refers to the believability of the characters in the story. (text) Forrest comes off as a character that people can trust. He is sincere in all of his thoughts and actions and that allows the other people in the film, and the viewers, to believe all of his stories. Fidelity is the principle of narrative rationality judging the credibility of the story. (text) If the story seems to be true to the listener or viewer, than the story has a high level of fidelity. Fidelity goes hand in hand with the second assumption that uses good reasons as a set of standards to judge a story. Using both coherence and fidelity, it is evident that Forrests stories are true.

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