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    Movie Summary – Gran Torino Essay

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    Clint Eastwood the director and producer of ‘Gran Torino’ is about a Korean war veteran who’s the only American left living on the street of Detroit while other families and people from different ethnicity or culture move in around him. Walt Kowalski the role that Clint Eastwood is playing is the protagonist of the movie and he is represented to be a tough old man who has had enough of the people around him and he had just lost someone important in his life, his wife.

    The antagonist which is Spider, a leader of a Hmong asian gang also cousins with the neighbor of Walt, Thao and Sue Lor. Spider is trying to get Thao to join their gang but caught up between family issues. Walt Kowalski’s sons are materialistic and weak which does not portray the same masculinity that Walt has and his grandchildren are disrespectful and shallow. The plot develops as he decides to help the Hmong family that just moved next door, overcomes his prejudice by helping Thao, and putting an end to the terrorization of the relative gangsters.

    A particular scene which is powerful and is very important though out the whole movie is the scene where the wive of Walt Kowalski funeral.?? The scene is introduced by a wide opening shot to show the other people in the chapel and to introduce Walt’s family. The panning shot stops in front of Walt. This is to show his body language and his responses towards the situation. A close up shot to one of the kids at the funeral as she comes to sit down wearing inappropriate clothing for a funeral.

    This then shows his hatred glare towards the disrespectful grand daughter. This scene is to show that his grand children are disrespectful and shallow and to show that Walt has no interest in them or affection for them. His two grown sons are the complete opposite figures to walt. Anti-Walt figures of masculinity, they are shown to be weak, hopeless men being tossed around by their materialistic wives. He also shows no interest in bonding with his parish priest, another representation of weak, white masculinity.

    We are meant to feel the disgusted and disappointment towards the grand children and is sons due to the fact that they have grown them as spoilt shallow kids. After the funeral service, a party is held at Walt’s house, in this scene he tries to avoid his son by getting some chairs from the basement but the son offered to help. Then Walt responded saying, “No, I need them now, not next week”. This shows how Walt sees his son to be weak and not represented to be masculine unlike Walt. Camera angles used in the scene were low angles, and high shots.

    Low angle shots are used to make Walt look like a more dominant figure and to make him look like he is more powerful than his son. ?? Another particular scene which is also powerful and emotive is where Walt confronts Thao who was peer pressured their cousin Spider the antagonist of the movie, to steal Walts Gran Torino. The representation of masculinity in the scene is racialized in such a way where the masculinity of the Hmong Boy is showed to be intimidated by a more dominant figure which in this case Walt holding a M1 Garand.

    In this scene Walt catches Thao attempting to steal his car. We are meant to feel disappointed and betrayed by Thao ruining and shattering the trust between him and Walt. In this scene an establishing shot is used showing the viewer who is going to be in the scene. As walt walks up the shot use is a slight low angle, this is to show how intimidating and powerful Walt is compared to Thao. The shot also uses low lighting, low lighting is used to give a sense of suspense between Thao and Walt. In the film the centre piece is Walt’s Gran Torino, which symbolizes his greatness and masculinity.

    To Thao, the boy Walt lends a helping hand to, the car is the one reason why Thao and Walt’s life changes because trough Thao failing to steal the car, Thao gets to know Walt. ?? In the next scene walt tries to help Thao “man up” through teaching him tough mannerisms and the use of vulgar language. In this scene Walt helps Thao “man up” by teaching him some social skills so that he would be able to apply for a job. Walt bring Thao to his barber, and through a series of trading racial slurs, Thao learns how to “talk like a real man” by trading racist insults.

    This scene in the barbershop, shows that through an exchange in racial insults on greeting someone can show forms of white masculinity. Walt’s only relationships in the film with friends are started shared by an exchange of racist language. For Walt to be able to regard Thao as a “real man,” he has to be initiated into this racist ritual. ?? As for Thao and Sue, they have created a strong bond with Walt. Sue sees Walt to have same characteristic as their father, and old school and really traditional. Sue and Thao see’s Walt to not just be a dominant figure but a father like figure.

    Walt has supported the Hmong family so much that they had developed a friendly relationship where they can trust each other. ?? The scene is introduced by a establishing shot where it shows the viewer who’s in the scene, in this case Thao cleaning the car and Walt sitting down eating lunch. The panning shot stops in behind Walt and showing Sue walking up the stairs about to have a conversation with Walt. We are shown that Walt has changed for the better and through this it makes us feel more enlightened where the conflict between Walt and the Hmong family are over.

    This scene is to show that Walt had developed a friendly relationship to Sue and Thao. Later on strengthening the bond they have together through Sue and Thao learning the American culture from Walt. This uses a slight low angle to still show that Walt is still in charge. In this scene Sue later on explains that Walt had same characteristics has their father did before he passed away such as they were both old school and traditional, Sue wished his father was more like Walt, protective and less strict.

    They see Walt as a father like figure, a person that they can look up to.? Gran Torino is a great movie with an important message and filled with inspiration. Not only does Gran Torino illustrate the importance of helping others, but it also talks about overcoming prejudice. Walt has problems at first understanding the Hmong culture, but as he gets to know his neighbors he understands that in a way they are no different than him.?

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