Can’t say that I’m a big fan of the results of this new poll from The Telegraph, in which voters named Forrest Gump the greatest movie character of all time, with James Bond, Scarlett O’Hara, Hannibal Lecter, and Indiana Jones filling out the top five.
While I know some lists are entirely unserious affairs, the fact that Bond, O’Hara, Hannibal the Cannibal, and the Raider of the Lost Ark were beat out by, let’s be honest, an anodyne dolt who is not in the least bit as interesting as any of the other runners-up is confusing and a little disheartening.
Great movie characters aren’t colorless, Rorschach-like stand-ins who just let their circumstances and events of the day passively happen to them – however memorable or pivotal the events – as is the case with Forrest Gump. Great movie characters have color, and they make their own life happen. They go out a risk life and limb to find the Ark of the Covenant, to sail a house with balloons to South America, to fight crime while web-slinging through the streets of New York.
Great characters do something. Forrest does stuff, sure. But, man, is he boring while he does it.
Let’s be clear: I love Forrest Gump. I don’t have to love the character to love everything else about that film. And I guess it says something about the enduring appeal of the film that Gump can show up on a poll like this almost two decades later. But do I think he’ll be on the same poll over 70 years after the film’s release, like Scarlett O’Hara from Gone With The Wind is?
Frankly, my dear, I think not.