The humble bench has played a vital role in many of the most famous movies in history… and it sure has seen plenty of action!
Perhaps the most iconic bench scene in the history of films takes place in Forrest Gump, the 1994 epic that won six Oscars, including best picture and best actor for Tom Hanks.
Forrest, played by Hanks, sits on the famous bench when he utters the immortal quote, “Life is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re gonna get.”
Filmed in Savannah, Georgia, the opening scene sees a feather floating high above the trees, before drifting into Chippewa Square, before landing next to the park bench. Hanks sits on the same bench for around 80% of the film, telling his life story to anyone who sits next to him.
The actual bench was a movie prop that is now in the Savannah History Museum and the location remains a popular spot, where tourists take photographs.
Good Will Hunting
In the 1997 film starring Matt Damon and Robin Williams, the bench scene in Good Will Hunting takes place in the Boston Public Garden in Massachusetts.
Williams won an Oscar for his portrayal of therapist Sean Maguire. Damon played one of his patients, a young man called Will, who had a gift for mathematics but needed the help of a psychologist to introduce some direction into his life.
In the film, Sean tells Will he needs to go out into the world, to learn from life experiences. The film won two Oscars, including best original screenplay. After Williams died in 2014, fans organised a shrine to the star at the bench, where he had filmed what was described as his most “inspirational” scene.
In Blue Jasmine, the 2013 comedy-drama written and directed by Woody Allen, Cate Blanchett won an Oscar for her portrayal of wealthy Manhattan socialite, Jasmine Francis, who falls on hard times.
She suffers a nervous breakdown and has to move in with her less well-off sister, after her husband is arrested for defrauding clients out of thousands of dollars. As her life spirals out of control, the park bench plays an important part in the action, as Jasmine sits there in a dishevelled state, muttering to herself.
It’s this moment in the film where Blanchett throws everything she has at playing the role of the woman who has brought about her own downfall. It transpires she reported her husband’s fraudulent activities in a fit of temper, when she found out he was having an affair with a 19-year-old au pair, but Jasmine ends up suffering more than anyone as a result of her actions.
The 1991 American political thriller, JFK, was directed by Oliver Stone. It depicts the events leading up to President John F Kennedy’s assassination and stars Kevin Costner as district attorney Jim Garrison and Donald Sutherland as “X”, a high-level, anonymous figure in Washington DC.
The bench scene features a fictional secret meeting between Garrison and X in Lincoln Memorial Park in Washington DC.
The film examines conspiracy theories relating to JFK’s death and X suggests the conspiracy goes right up to the highest levels of the government. As Garrison investigates the assassination, X urges him to “keep digging”.
Nominated for eight Oscars, it won two, including best cinematography.
In Love Actually, the action follows the ups and downs of eight different couples coping with their love lives in the run-up to Christmas. Made in 2003, the romantic comedy features an all-star cast, including Liam Neeson as Daniel, who is mourning the death of his wife and struggling to raise his stepson, Sam, alone.
Located on Gabriel’s Wharf, in front of the Riviera Restaurant, on the path running alongside the River Thames, the bench is the location of an emotional conversation between Daniel and Sam about their feelings.
While sitting together having a heart-to-heart, Sam confesses he’s in love – and Daniel is relieved. He had noticed the boy wasn’t himself and didn’t know why. So, when Sam says it’s the “total agony” of being in love, Daniel breathes a sigh of relief.
For your own memorable bench scenes
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