Robert Zemeckis’ Forrest Gump (1994) is an influential contribution to the American film repertoire. It is a film that exemplifies history as well as describes America’s ever changing culture and social structure. The historic feel of this classic American film is multiplied by the meticulous costumes worn in the film. Playing a significant role in bringing each individual character to life and adding the impression of realism to the vast timeline of the film.
When costuming in a film is mentioned the first speculation is usually that of a character’s outfit. However, that is not all that encompasses the art of costuming. An aspect of costuming that has equal impact on the way a character in a film is perceived is makeup. Describing it as more of an art form, makeup artists have control over several important factors that make a character in a film who they are. They can control how old a character is, if a character is well, or in dire health conditions, if a character is under stress, on drugs, happy or sad. Dan Striepeke is a makeup artist who received an Academy nomination for his work in the film. He was specifically requested by Tom Hanks because of their experience working together in previous films like John Patrick Shanley’s Joe Versus the Volcano (1990). He required a certain flesh tone of Hanks to correctly fit his character. He intended to stay pretty close to his natural complexion, however slightly different, to give himself leeway to go elsewhere as they progressed through the film. He interviewed some “pinks”, and other juvenile flesh tones to get a better idea of how to start Hanks’ character, Forrest Gump, as a younger man, and changed the Reeder 2
color and texture of his face as the film progressed to simulate aging, rather than leathering the face. Four different hair pieces were used throughout the film. Each one being smaller than the previous and regressing farther back on his forehead until reaching Hanks’ real hairline. They were glued to his forehead and combed and trimmed as needed to give him the butch-cut hairstyle. These wigs were also used to display the passage of time through the film, and the aging of Forrest Gump (Striepeke).
Hallie D'Amore, another makeup artist who received an Academy nomination for her work in Forrest Gump, had the delicate task of working with Robin Wright. Because Wright is an attractive woman it is particularly difficult for a makeup artist to work in nuances. However, going into her work quite deeply, D’Amore was successful in transitioning Wright’s character, Jenny, during her spell of drug abuse in the bedroom when she was at her lowest ebb to at the parties with her glitter makeup, and to calmer times when she was with Forrest (Striepeke).
One of the most drastic changes in appearance throughout the film was that of Mrs. Gump (Sally Field). Moving her from a pretty, well kept, middle aged woman to a sick, bedridden old lady, D’Amore and Striepeke together had to use more than just face paint. Using and refining a new method to aging a person, plastic was laid across where the crows-feet or smile lines would be, or right in them, and were then squeezed and shaped to make a roll rather than making a crease. After the desired shape was acquired her face was then delicately painted with water brushes to avoid the heavy “mask” look (Striepeke).
Lt. Dan Taylor (Gary Sinise) is another indispensable character in Zemeckis’ film who required proper costuming to completely bear his part. Having presence throughout the film he is also prescribed time-transitioning makeup. This was more of a deterioration transition. Filming him in longer sequence, wardrobe was able to use Sinise’s own beard, however still adding a small wig to complete the look. Darkening under his eyes using a transparency type color and rotting the teeth gave him the complete “scum” type look they wanted out of a depressed Vietnam Vet amputee with a...
Cited: Cole, Holly, and Kristin Burke. Costuming for Film: The Art and The Craft. Illustrated. Ann Arbor, MI: Silman-james Press , 2005. Print.
Corrigan, Timothy. A Short Guide To Writing About Film. 7th ed. New York, NY: Longman, 2009-02-05. Print.
Forrest Gump. Dir. Robert Zemeckis. Perf. Tom Hanks, Robin Wright Penn, Gary Sinise, Mykelti Williamson. Paramount Pictures, 1994. DVD.
Striepeke, Dan, interview. Forrest Gump. Dir. Robert Zemeckis. Produced by Wendy Finerman. Perf. Special Feature: The Magic of Make Up. Paramount Pictures, 1994. DVD.
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