Articles

>A look at a different planet: Gran Torino

In movies, Theology on July 13, 2009 by mstevensrev

>Last night got to watch Gran Torino. Good movie which I recommend because of the captivating way the story is told. Similar in nature to Million Dollar Baby, which was a movie about euthanasia told so beautifully you don’t even realize it, yet more simple to me. The movie took on what it means to be a man. There were three parts which struck me as important:

1. We live in a ever more pluralistic world, where cultures clash side by side and next door, it cannot be stopped but rather we must ask what we do about it. This was a minor theme in the movie, though one that gets lots of attention because of Walt’s racism toward his changing neighborhood. His language never changes but his heart does. There is a moment when he is next door at his Hmong neighbor’s house where he looks in the mirror and says to himself that he has more in common with these folks then he does his own family. Living in Oakland we found this to be true. That many of our neighbors who were from different cultures had shared desires and dreams when it came to family and community, and therefore it was fun to figure out how to better care for each other and know each other.

2. Walt Kowalski is a dying breed. The Korean War vet who drives a Ford is hard for me to find in my life. Throughout most of the movie he almost seemed cartoon like in his racist comments and narrow views. Yes the racism needs to go away, but there is much more to Walt and to that generation which found themselves in a world very different from the one they grew up in very quickly and it was hard to adjust.

3. Men being men. “There is no greater love than this, for a man to give his life for a friend.” There were many false views of what it means to be a man in this movie. From the Hmong Gangsters, the liberal minded sensitive priest, the lost immigant kids who turned on himself, successful yuppies, and even Walt the stoic guilt ridden father. Men need other men to teach them the basic lessons of life. The scene where Walt is showing the neighbor kid the tools in his garage and he explains that it takes over fifty years to get a tool set like that, a basic lesson but one that as a young man you need to hear because the weight of such a insignificant thing as having a collection of tools to fix the broken things around you can be overwhelming. Walt mostly against his will at first invested in the young man. Every man I know could use that same kind of investment.

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