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Forrest Button Fish – Variations of the Same Parable

Hollywood likes to tell the same story repeatedly.  Usually it’s obvious (gee, two blockbusters coming out the same year about asteroids threatening all life on Earth—what a coincidence!), but other times it’s more subtle.  For instance, consider the movies that have the following plots: a man with a low IQ changes the lives of everyone around him, including historical figures; a man ages backwards and spends his life in self-discovery; and a man who tells exaggerated stories of his life has to connect with his estranged son on his deathbed.  Do these loglines indicate that the three films actually tell essentially the same story?  Here’s a comparison between various elements of Forrest Gump, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and Big Fish to let you decide.

Forrest Gump Benjamin Button Big Fish

Story:

  • A modern-day fable

X

X

X

  • Mixes reality with a fairy tale-like feel

X

X

X

  • Told in flashbacks using narration

X

X

X

  • Narrated by protagonist

X

X

  • Set in the South

X

X

X

  • Uses historical events as the backdrop

X

X

X

  • Spans several decades of the protagonist’s life

X

X

X

  • Protagonist’s life story told in series of outlandish episodes

X

X

X

Protagonist:

  • Changes the lives of everyone he meets

X

X

X

  • Uses walking aid as a child

X

X

X

  • Meets a girl named Jenny, who falls in love with him

X

X

  • Spends most of the story trying to get the girl he’s in love with

X

X

X

  • Has an ailment, condition, or situation  that makes him different from everyone else

X

X

X

  • Is an athlete as a young man

X

X

  • Moved away from home to go on a journey that took him around the world, but returned to his home later in life

X

X

X

  • Serves in military during a war and performs a heroic action

X

X

X

  • Spends time on a boat and experiences a storm

X

X

  • Has a friend with a physical impediment

X

X

  • Travels alone later in life

X

X

  • Makes money due to previously befriending someone

X

X

  • Has issues being a father

X

X

X

  • Dies at the end

X

X

Love Interest:

  • First meets protagonist as a child

X

X

X

  • Repeatedly turns protagonist away

X

X

X

  • Falls in love with protagonist despite circumstances

X

X

X

  • Suffers from an ailment or injury

X

X

  • Works in the performing arts

X

X

  • Gives birth to protagonist’s child

X

X

X

  • Dies at the end

X

X

Film:

  • Directed by prominent, visually innovative director

X

X

X

  • At one time was going to be directed by Steven Spielberg

X

X

  • Based on book/short story

X

X

X

  • Screenplay by Eric Roth

X

X

  • Took several years in development

X

X

X

  • Uses innovative special effects

X

X

X

  • Running time over 2 hours

X

X

X

  • Protagonist played by Oscar-nominated actors

X

X

X

  • Lead actor nominated for Oscar for this performance

X

X

  • Critical reception averaged 7/10

X

X

X

  • Nominated for Academy Award(s)

X

X

X

  • Nominated for Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture

X

X

X

By the way, check out Big Fish screenwriter John August’s blog on screenwriting.  It has more useful information than you would ever need…well, unless you’re an aspiring screenwriter.

copyright © 2012 FilmVerse

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2 comments on “Forrest Button Fish – Variations of the Same Parable

  1. Whoa! Never thought of these that way. Good one.

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