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Race and Cultural Clash in Post-War America

In: Film and Music

Submitted By pattyboy18
Words 1365
Pages 6
In Director and Actor Clint Eastwood’s film Gran Torino (United States, 2008) race and cultural clash are the main forces driving the story of Walt Kowalski, a retired Polish American and his encounters with his Asian Hmong neighbours whom he grows closer with as his own family pulls away following the death of his wife. Walt’s isolation from his family as well as his bitter attitude toward the world that changed around him reflect the cultural shift society has undergone and how the American dream has become a nightmare of crime, gangs, sex, and money. Walt’s vintage Gran Torino becomes a symbol, encompassing a time when things were simpler and the future looked bright. As he copes with the changes that occur in every aspect of his life Walt becomes an antihero, driven to do good for the people around him by using the violence built up inside of him from his years in the Korean War. Eastwood embodies a dying generation through the single character of Walt and his personality and actions allow the audience to draw comparisons between the America of yesterday and the America of today, which has immigration, innercity violence, and racism. His direction brings the audience’s attention to these social and cultural issues through his extensive camera work and a well developed screenplay. From the beginning of the film onward, Eastwood uses the camera frame as part of the narrative to show Walt’s position on the world around him. This is first seen when his teenage granddaughter enters the church for her grandmother’s funeral, the audience views her through Walt’s eyes. As shown in Fig 1, Walt does not focus on her face (as he did for the other grandchildren) but instead on her bare midriff and lack of respect at a serious family gathering. Eastwood uses a close up camera shot that clearly emphasizes that her midriff is the only thing Walt is concerned about in the...

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