I really like the film very much. it shows how a person changes his view to others. These changes of the relationship between Walt Kowalski and Thao Vang Lor seem to be a main line of the story. From the beginning to the end, the story describes how a stubborn elder and an introverted boy, or the family, deal with their neighbor ship. As the main character, Walt Kowalski’s view to the Hmong boy guides the story towards different results. In the film, his view changes, from prejudice to friendly, therefore, their relationship was getting better and better. For instance, Walt teaches Thao how to use several tools to repair or fix something, or how to explain his ideas and views as a man, also pays for some necessary tools to Thao and help him to find a appropriate job. At the ending of the film, Walt fight for Thao’s family to against with the gang, provide freedom and safety to the family by exchanging his life. In the case, audience can find how and why Walt’s inner world changes. Thao is sincere but immature, he needs Walt to represent his educating values; Thao’s older sister Sue is kind and brave, but these characters also make Walt to worry about her. In addition, Thao family makes Walt feel warm and belonging; all of these elements compose what Walt needs after the funeral, rather than those worries and physical support from Walt’s son and daughter.
In the case of the family values, as an elder who lives alone, Walt Kowalski is lacking for warmth of a family. At the beginning, his wife has died, and his family is holding the funeral; this makes Walt quite sad. What is more, he finds that his family seems not to be respect to it. His wife is the one who makes him feel belonging than any others; therefore, this would be quite a blow to Walt. Yet, his family cannot find his sadness from him; Walt still looks fine, even though he finds that he is getting ill. Actually, the film also shows that sometimes Walt feel lonely. When he is making a phone call to his son, audience can learn that how he want to talk about his illness to his son! But it still failed; he used to be a veteran in Korean War, and his personality cannot allow him to do that. Therefore, the phone call still ends up with silence, rather than any words. Comparing with Walt’s children, Thao is much closer than what he need. He discourages Thao’s stealing, and begins to interact with the family. When he discourages the gang’s trouble first time, their interactions makes Walt to find something that support his inner sustenance. They teach Thao to be a useful man, or participate in Hmong’s party and festival, and talk with Sue about some topics. From the film, audience also can find that Walt’s son also provide his family values to Walt. His son persuade him to move into a home, which particular works for old people. Children often cannot understand what is the most important to their parents.
The film leaves a question to audience: how can we choose the way to face the conflicts? For the ending of the film, different audience may keep different views. When Walt faces the gang, he chooses to sacrifice his life. This is also a change in Walt’s inner world. From several pervious conflicts, he is used to threaten others with his gun. As a veteran, a gun is the most important items to him; also it may be the most dependable. Yet, each time he uses his threat, it always causes react, and it seems to be more and more serious. Overall, the film describes four ways to solve the conflicts with something vicious. The first one, Thao, he is used to be conforming; he is asked to steal the Gran Torino. The second one, Walt, solve the conflicts by using threaten, also a kind of violence. The third one, Thao find that to be conforming is not allowed himself, than decide to be evasive. After that, Walt finds that the violence always cause another violence; it will never appeasable; he chooses to use the law to protect those who he high valued. Walt goes to the gang’s house; members of the gang feel afraid and draw their weapons on Walt. He talks loudly, both towards on those members and their neighbors: he wants to make them attention, as an evidence. Then he puts a cigarette in his mouth and asks for a light. After that, he shows his habit, gestured as a gun and puts his hand in his jacket and provocatively pulls it out as if it is a gun. This action incites those members to shoot and kill him. As he falls to the ground, his hand opens to reveal an army lighter: he was unarmed. He protects Thao’s family in a legal way, rather than violence.
After watching the film, the main character, Walt Kowalski makes me shocked, even though I have considered a similar ending before watching. Unlike other American films, he is not a hero. A hero usually owns some perfect characters: friendly, polite or gentle. Obviously, Walt is portrayed as a “failed” hero: he is violent, obstinate and unfriendly. Yet, he is still a hero to Thao’s family. Sue, the older sister of Thao, finds that what Walt looks like is simulate, he need family, also the warmth from family. Walt has a common habit in the film, which impresses me a lot: he often gestured as a gun. When he says “Get off my lawn”, “I blow a hole in your face and sleep like a baby,” it looks like a tone of threat and give audience a strong impression, while there is another scene that he sit in front of the house alone with his dog: it makes me realized that no matter how strong or powerful he shows, Walt is still a normal elder, which need someone to worry about him or live together with.
For the title, Gran Torino, is a classical type in Ford, and many characters in the film want to get the car for different purpose, including Walt’s granddaughter, the gang, also Thao. In my own view, Gran Torino is a quite old car at that time, but there still have so many people want it. That means, the car is valuable, rather than eliminated. As the title, the main character Walt is also valued as the “Gran Torino”: he is still needed by the society, rather than to be eliminated with the time passed. Death is not the ending, in the last scene of the film, Thao drive the Gran Torino around the region, just like he go along with Walt. Gran Torino is not only a classical type, or a sign with stand for a value, but also the spirit of what Walt owns, and it will be spread by Thao, also with the Gran Torino.
Beside of the theme, the film also relates a racial discrimination. One hand, Asians live in a different life style with natives. On the other hand, Walt in the film was portrayed as a veteran who has participated in the Korean War, and most of the Asians look like from a same region. That means, Walt consider his neighbor as enemies. The situation of racial discrimination is usually held by natives more or less. During that time, racial discrimination is held among by everyone. Audience can find few white people in that region expect Walt Kowalski: the region is full of immigrations, and they usually ignore the native life styles. For example, natives will focus on fix their house and yard, in order to make it comfortable. From the film audience can learn that those immigrations pay less attention on this area. When Walt want Thao to live as a native, he teaches him to use those tools and tell him how to do with the roof and yard.
In addition to the main story, the settings of the film also represent a scene of life in Midwest. Different from large cities, side-by-side houses and small roads are also a character of Midwest. In the case, there has no similar structure in China; it provides a similar section with my apartment out of the university. With the experience of living in Midwest, the film also give a impression that close to real life here, rather than other films that process a story in a large city.