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Critical Analysis Essay On a Movie Gran Torino by Clint Eastwood


Gran Torino directed and starred in by Clint Eastwood has a lot to say about society, and not all of it is good. Angry and sullen Korean War veteran, Walt Kowalski, has to learn to live with his Korean neighbors and accept that his neighborhood is in drastic need of change and cultural acceptance. This Eastwood classic and masterpiece shows violence, the moving away from violence, and change due to the removal of violence.

Kowalski's Detroit neighborhood is riddled with crime and he does not care at first. His change occurs when a young man from the Hmong culture of Southeast Asia moves next door. The young man has distinct cultural differences to the Detroit born and bred Kowalski. Accepting the neighbors is hard enough and then the young man, Vang Thoa Lor, tries to steal the sacred Garn Torino as a gang ritual. This major plot line is encircled with the constant violence of Mexican and Korean gangs. The violence starts with language and suggested weapons, and ends up with strong violence including rape and eventual death of Kowalski.

Ironically, Kowalski ends up being a role model for Thoa. He also saves his sister, Sue Lor , first from an inappropriate encounter and then after her horrific rape. The moving away from the violence is in part due to cultural acceptance and a realization that the community does matter and that Walt can make a change.

After the brutal rape and beating of Thoa, there is no looking back, Walt must make a stand against the gang members in the community. The next to last scene of the movie is a blaze of gunshots and tragedy. Walt never actually pulls his gun, and shadows representing darkness unload bullets on his body. This scene is not surprise, as the movie has been headed this way since the first scene. With his death, the community moves closer to an understanding that he has sacrificed for change and that change must happen.

The movie is played out in dark shadows, violence, and anger, but the violence, moving away from violence, and eventual death of Walt all show that changes is coming and that the change is positive. The reading of the will at the end of the movie provides a neat and unexpected ending symbolizing change for the better in the neighborhood.

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