We recently watched the movie Gran Torino. It was directed by Clint Eastwood who also starred as the lead role in the movie. Gran Torino is about a disgruntled Korean war veteran who lives in a neighborhood with poor Asian immigrants. The neighborhood is troubled with gang violence . He develops a relationship with the son in the Hmong family and becomes good friends with the family he once hated and wanted nothing to do with. The movie raises a number of issues like gang violence, immigration and ethnic relations.
After we watched the movie, we choose 5 questions to answer about the movie and write about on our blog. The questions had to be important to the understanding of the movie. These are the 5 questions i chose to answer:
How would you describe Walt’s racial beliefs at the start of the movie? Do these beliefs change? Throughout the film he uses racial slurs. Does the meaning of the slurs change depending on the situation? Do you see where language/words can have different meanings depending on the situation? Is this right or wrong? Have you ever used racial slurs and not meant them as an insult?
In the beginning of the movie, Walt is portrayed as a disgruntled man with a racist vocabulary. His family is selfish, spoiled and very concerned about heritage and money. The way he talks about other cultures and his racial slurs makes it clear that he’s not very open to the families in his neighborhood and his racial beliefs are clearly affected by his time in the Korean war. You can hear him say a lot of different racial slurs like “barbarians, fish heads, swamp rats, chinks, zipper heads” and more. The meaning of the slurs will of course depend on the situation. For instance, Walt’s relationship with his hairdresser is based on racial slurs and remarks towards each other, but that is how their friendship works and their intentions are only good. Although, not everyone would be okay with that and i think that you have to be careful before you say racial slurs in public because not everyone thinks it’s funny. Walt’s racial beliefs definitely change through out the movie as he gets to know the Hmong family and develops a relationship with them. He gets more open to other cultures and learn to not judge people before he gets to know them .
Walt states that Thao and Sue will never get away from the gangs that are in the neighborhood. Do you think that is a true statement? Can situations like this change without extreme measures?
I think that Walt’s statement is kind of cruel. Thao never wanted to be a part of a gang and has hopes of working with construction. I think it’s hard to get away from the gangs and the pressure of joining them. It is probably hard to accomplish getting away from the gangs without extreme measures, because most of the time the gangs don’t accept rejection.
Walt spends his birthday with his family and then begrudgingly with Thao’s family. How were these situations different? Do you know of anyone that feels more comfortable or at home with friends or neighbors than family?
When Walt spends his birthday with his family, he receives gifts from his oldest son and his wife. These are gifts that his family think will make Walt’s life easier for example a suggestion to go to a retirement home. these suggestions and gift are completely out of touch with Walt’s values and wishes, and it shows that Walt’s relationship with his family is very stiff and impersonal. The girl next door, Sue, is a part of the Hmong family and invites Walt over to a barbecue with her family at his birthday. They show him love and tell him about their culture, which brings them closer. Their cultures are clearly different, for example when Walt touches the head of a child during the barbecue, he learns that you are not supposed to touch someones head because it will hurt their soul. The Hmong family also told walt that they were on the same side during the war. The situations between the two families were very different, and i got the impression that Walt liked the barbecue with the Hmong family better than the time he spent with his family. I don’t know anyone that feels more comfortable with friends and neighbors than their own family, but there are probably some people that feel that way.
How would you describe Walt’s relationship with his family? At the start of the movie, Walt is seen at his wife’s funeral. What impression does he have of his son’s family from these scenes?
I would say that Walt’s relationship with his family is cold and not very good. there is no sign of empathy and respect from his son’s and grandchildren at the funeral, which I think troubles Walt a lot.
Walt locks Thao up. Why does he do this? Was locking him up the right thing to do? Have you ever tried to protect someone from themselves?
After Spider’s gang rape and kidnap Thao’s sister, Sue, both Walt and Thao look for revenge. Walt has experienced a lot of violence and the effect of killing someone after being in the Korean war. He does not want Thao to experience the same thing, therefore he locks up Thao in the basement to make sure that Thao doesn’t to anything bad and until the revenge is over. I think locking him up was the right thing and a very caring thing of Walt to do.