In today’s English course, my class and I watched Gran Torino, a multicultural movie. Gran Torino is a 2008 drama film directed and produced by Clint Eastwood. The story follows Walt Kowalski, a recently widowed Korean War veteran alienated from his family and angry at the world. Walt’s young neighbor, Thao Vang Lor, is pressured by his cousin into stealing Walt’s prized 1972 Ford Gran Torino for his initiation into a gang. Walt thwarts the theft with his M1 Garand rifle and subsequently develops a relationship with the boy and his family (Wikipedia).
Beneath are my answers to some of the discussion questions regarding the film, handed out by my teacher.
- How would you describe Walt’s racial beliefs at the start of the movie? Do these beliefs change?
In the beginning of the movie, Walt’s racial beliefs are very negative. Walt does not like people of other races and has a bad attitude towards these people. Throughout the film however, his view upon immigrants changes slowly. After attending his neighbours Hmong barbecue and spending some time with Thao. Walt suddenly becomes more positive to the Hmong family next door and at the end he develops strong friendships with Thao and his sister. So strong that he was willing to sacrifice his own life for their well being.
2. How would you describe Walt’s relationship with his family? Do you know of anyone that has a similar family relationship?
Walt’s relationship with his family is poor. Even though his family shows up on his birthday and calls him several times, their relationship still isn’t very close at all. Throughout the movie, Walt expresses very little love for his family members. I believe their relationship is poor due to the fact that Walt seems very different from the rest.
3. At the end of the film, Walt bequeaths the car to Thao instead of a family member. Was this unexpected? The last scene shows Thao driving the car down the road. The car has not been modified. What does this scene signify?
In the scene where Walt bequeaths the car to Thao, I wasn’t very surprised to be honest. Giving the fact that Walt had built up such a strong friendship with Thao before he passed away. And as mentioned above, Walt never really had a good relationship with his own family, and therefore it seemed more reasonable to give Thao the Gran Torino. The last scene were Thao was driving down the road, without having done any modifications to the Gran Torino, shows how Thao valued Walt’s opinion and their relationship.
4. Midway through the movie Thao is required to work for Walt. How does this change their relationship?
Thao having to work for Walt definitely changed their relationship. Thao working for Walt led to them spending more time together as well as Walt realising that Thao is a hardworking and persistent boy. Which was really an eye opener for Walt – who hated the behaviour of the youth (his granddaughter).
5. What does respect mean to Walt? What does respect mean to you?
Respect seems to be very important for Walt. Walt is an old man who served in the army, and he has probably been taught to show respect towards others. For instance, Walt wants to be called mr. kowalsky by the priest. Yet Walt doesn’t only demand respects, he also shows it towards others.