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Gran Torino

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Submitted By jlard1968
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Gran Torino

Jamie P. Lard

Texas A&M University-Central Texas

Summary
The movie “Gran Torino” tells the story of Walt Kowalski (played by Clint Eastwood), who is a retired autoworker and also a veteran of the North Korean war. In the first part, the film Walt loses his wife, Dorothy. He is survived by his two sons their wives and grandchildren. However, Mr. Kowalski chooses not to display affection toward or even try to bond with his sons, daughters-in-laws, and grandchildren. He spends much of his time sitting on the front porch drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon beer and growling at the neighborhood people as they walk past his house. It seems that Kowalski has difficulties communicating with non-whites without making offensive racial remarks. It is evident that the racial slurs he makes throughout the first part of the movie are for self-gratification. Mr. Kowalski’s snarling character emanates a form of white machismo that uses racism as a way of empowering himself.
In the movie “Gran Torino” the cultural diversity is abundant; however it is met with prejudice and resistance from the main character, Walt Kowalski. His house is located in an once prominent area of Highland Park, Michigan. Mr. Kowalski was an American made man, everything that he owns was made in America. Mr. Kowalski was upset with his sons for purchasing foreign cars because he as always purchased American made cars. Which brings us to the main feature of the film is the “Gran Torino.” Mr. Kowalski treasured this car; it was in mint condition. As an initiation test, Walt’s neighbor Thao is caught trying to steal his treasured “Gran Torino.” During the attempted carjacking, Thao triggers Walt security system. Walt saw his security lights going off and came running with his M1 assault rifle. This was the first meeting of Walt and Thao.
Mr. Kowalski’s house was located in a predominantly white area. However, for some time now that area of Detroit has become populated by people from Asia called Hmong. Walt is not very receptive of the Hmong community, in fact, he is very resistant, is constantly using stereotypes and making prejudice remarks toward them. As the Hmong family is having a traditional get together, Walt sees the family walking into the house and committed, “how many swamp rats can you get in one room.” It is clear he is prejudice and indifferent to his neighbor’s culture. As the people go in and out of the house, he does not try to befriend them.
Then one night Spider, Thao cousin started a fight with him, in front of his house. The fight ended up crossing over into Walt’s yard, so Mr. Kowalski came out with a gun and threatened Thao’s cousin Spider and his gang. After that occurred the community held him as a hero for standing up and saving Thao’s life from his cousin and the gang members. The sister Sue went over to a Walt’s house and introduced herself to him. Of course, he resisted but it did not work in keeping her away. Walt did not know that the Hmong people, his neighbors were veterans who fought in a similar war. Sue would not give up on him, so she invited him over to eat when refused she offered him a drink and that worked. Even as he walk through the family’s home, he continued with his prejudice remarks. They fed him, offered drinks and neighborly hospitality. After, that moment they began to be neighbors.
Throughout, the film, the priest from his wife’s church was trying to intervene in his life, because he had made a promise to his wife before she died, that he would make every effect bring him to confession. His two sons wanted him to move into a retirement community, but he rejected the idea. The Hmong community was starting to believe in him, and the gang member wanted him gone. He started feeling like there was purpose in his life again, to stand up for something or someone. They wrestled a bit, but Walt, Thao and Sue became good friends. You could say that he became a father figure to both of them, but especially to Thao. This movie is about a cantankerous old man who has lost desire to care for others, until the end.
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