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Gran Torino Film Analysis

In: Film and Music

Submitted By remy015
Words 1099
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Part A
1. Story and Plot
Story and Plot differ from one another. The total world of the story is made out of “diegetic elements”. These elements (such as characters, events, surroundings, sounds and objects) create the world in which the story takes place. In a television series as Baantjer, there are a lot of diegetic elements which the audience can relate to, whereas in the world of Disney’s Wall-E, there are diegetic elements which the audience can’t relate to because it is a whole other world than we know. A story consists of two types of diegetic elements. Firstly, there are elements that are presented on the screen. Secondly, there are elements which are not presented on the screen, but where the viewer (audience) refers to as something that has happened (presumed and inferred elements).
Besides diegetic elements, there are also nondiegetic elements. These elements include for example voice-overs, background music and titles and credits and are part of a plot, but not part of a story.
A plot consists, beside the diegetic elements of the world of the story presented on the screen, also of nondiegetic material. Apart from (non)diegetic elements, the story also differs from the plot because of the chronological order. Within a story, every event happens in chronological order, but within a plot, events do not necessarily have to appear in chronological order.
In Gran Torino the difference between the story and the plot is immediately visible at the very first scene: Walt is already old and his wife passed away. As the viewer you won’t get to know everything that has happened in Walt’s life before the plot starts and you won’t get to know his wife. One of the few things Gran Torino does refer to is Walt’s past in Korea (therefore, this element is part of the plot as well as the story).
2. Character traits in Gran Torino
If the viewer would know exactly what has happened in Korea, then the audience might think Walt is not being unrealistic towards foreigners, but we might also have the same perspective. However, the viewer does not know exactly what happened and that makes Walt’s character seem bitter, angry and racist. Those character traits show that Walt is an unsympathetic person. Conversely, Walt shows admirable character traits too throughout the plot. One of them is for example the way Walt starts to acts towards Sue and Toa. Because he did not have a good relationship with his own sons, he now tries to be a good father to them. Another thing is that Walt gives a lot of examples of his past in Korea and because of some horrible things; the audience might pity Walt.

3. Character Change in Gran Torino
The first time in the movie when Walt reveals an awareness that his previous view of the world was flawed, is the scene in which he drives Sue back home after he saved sue and her ‘date’ from the ‘black gangbangers’. In this scene Walt gets to know Sue for the first time. She tells him about the Hmong people and why she came to America. The Hmong people fought on America’s side in the Vietnam War, but when America quit, it was not safe anymore so Sue and her family moved to America. This shows that Walt was wrong about Sue and her family. The Hmong people are on America’s side. In this scene Walt actually says to Sue: “You know something kid: you’re alright.”

Part B
4. Conflict in Gran Torino
In the second lecture, we learned there are eight universal conflicts that are still relevant today. These conflicts are: * Emotion vs. Rational * Illusion vs. reality * Order vs. chaos * Inside vs. outside * Culture vs. nature * Small vs. big * Past vs. future * Human vs. Gods
Of course a few of these conflicts are applied in Gran Torino: emotion vs. rational, inside vs. outside and past vs. future.
Emotion vs. rational
This type of conflict occurs in Gran Torino because Walt’s emotions towards foreigners get the best of him. He judges them just on the fact that they are foreigners and does not think rationally about how every foreigner could have a different personality. The reason this conflict exists is because of Walt’s past in Korea. The viewer can notice this conflict by the way Walt acts towards his new neighbors. He doesn’t want anything to do with the Asians because of prejudice reasons. If Walt would think rationally, he could have already started to like his new neighbors from the moment Toa introduced himself at Walt’s front porch. Later in the movie Walt does not lose the emotions, but changes them into sort of love towards Toa and Sue. He makes a rational decision to let the Hmong gang shoot him to safe Toa and Sue.
Inside vs. outside
This conflict looks like an obvious one but it isn’t. Of course Walt is an insider in America and the foreigners are outsiders. However, this conflict also presents itself through Walt himself. A good scene to prove that is the scene in which Walt is sitting in front of his house and the lady across the street drops her groceries. He sees Toa walking towards the woman and helping her. That should have made Walt look towards Toa in a different way (on the inside). Nevertheless, when Walt looks at his Asian neighbor nodding, he shows a grumpy face (on the outside) as if he is certain about not wanting to change his look towards them. This conflict gets solved in the end by Walt showing on the outside what he feels on the inside: compassion for Toa, Sue and their family.
Past vs. future
Walt’s past in Korea is a recurring aspect in the film. It is probably the reason that he is such a negative person, because he constantly tells about Korea when he wants to prove that he is not scared. For example when the Hmong gang first comes on Walt’s property, Walt says: “You’re nothing to me. In Korea, we stacked fucks like you five feet high and used you as sandbags.” For Walt, it is hard to let go of this past, because he lives in a neighborhood consisting of almost only foreigners and Walt doesn’t really seem to know how he can handle that in the future. He can’t set the difference straight between his past and the future. Then the Asians move in and they let him see that there are also ‘good’ foreigners that do not want problems with Walt.

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