Blog, Film, LL, Review, Writing

A Soldier After War: Gran Torino

Welcome To The Review!

Welcome back to another review from LL! This week I have decided that I would review another must see, in the film industry, as well as another film that I thoroughly enjoyed and understood. Gran Torino! Again I’m not going to warn you about spoilers, purely because it has been out for so long.

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Without further ado, let’s begin.


What Does War Do To A Man?

This film follows Walt Kowalski (Clint Eastwood), a veteran soldier of the Korean War that wishes to live a peaceful retirement/last few years, but instead ends up reforming a young boy, who had previously been pressured into stealing Kowalski’s famous 1972 Gran Torino (for those of you who don’t know that is a car). But from Kowalski’s background he is very hesitant, and harsh to the young man, thanks to the scars he carries from the war.

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Now, this shot, to me, shows what an army man looks like, in retirement. Very stiff faced, not wanting to deal with anything he doesn’t like, and a gun on him, at all times (even though any American can get a licence for a gun). This shot, from this scene specifically, shows how Kowalski deals with his life. He won’t deal with any “shenanigans” and will gladly face it head on, with a pistol at his side. Throughout this film as well, you notice that the actual colouring and grading is quite grey (or in other terms, the colours are drained from the picture). For instance the trees in the background barely have any green sticking out, it is pretty much shades of brown and black. That’s what makes the film better; its gloomy/non vibrant colour palette.

Racial Segregation Turns Into Understanding

The title effectively means that Kowalski’s initial interpretation, of his new neighbours was stereotypical and insanely racist. But after understanding Tau and his family, he realises that they are human, even though they are of a different race. Trust me, in this film, we see how a veteran treats different races, such as using words like “spooks” “gook” and (my personal favourite) “Dragon Lady”. It just goes to show that growing up then, you sometimes don’t change your ways unless you are shown it.

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But after some time, and whipping Tau into shape, Kowalski helps the young man get a job, learn some social skills and, more importantly, stay out of a gang. It seems like Eastwood’s character could suggest that he is the father (well grandfather considering the age gap) that Tau never had. Unfortunately, due to the gangs living in the local area, and Kowalski being a war veteran and all, we knew it was going to head south and that a shoot off would happen. However, Walt didn’t want to fight his way out, he had made peace by confessing to God, ensuring Tau was locked up and didn’t get involved and ensured his dog was in a safe, new home. But the most touching thing was keeping Tau out of trouble, so that he didn’t know the pain of killing another man. As, quoted from Walt himself, “it’s goddamn awful, that’s what it is”.

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I will say this, with Eastwood also directing the film, we finally got to see his genius in action. He has always been famous for his Western films, but man, I rate this film so much higher than them, purely because of his bounding, as well as his motivated character. I mean, he starts off, just wanting to drink beer and live a normal, retired life. But he ends up, helping another man, as well as jailing a gang in the local area. The most tragic thing that we, as an audience, had to sit and watch through, is the fact that his character was going to die. We knew his health was not in good condition, and we watched as he started to change, as a man. He becomes more considerate of others, as he sets his plan for revenge, which was actually him appointing himself to death.

Not An Eastwood Western But An Eastwood Performance!

Eastwood’s performance as a whole was spectacular! It just goes to show that age is just a number. He played (in my eyes) a hero with hard fisted compassion. Walt tells Tau how to talk to guys, how to talk to your barber (even though it started quite hilarious), and as well as that, how to talk to women (in which he scored himself a girlfriend). And what did Walt get out of all this? Well to begin with it was just more hassle, then it was satisfaction, and finally peace, knowing he had changed a young mans life.

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And here is one of my favourite shots! Walt is looking towards (in his eyes) a family of gooks coming over with a plant to thank him for saving Tau, from an altercation, the previous night. The mother in this scene insists that Tau works for him, for an entire week to make up for his “attempted” theft. Walt grudgingly has to accept, and forces him to do labour around the neighbourhood. But this shot contrasts from the previous one I analysed. A bright vibrant day to show the turning over of a new leaf. One old man looking down on a family, which he has to take orders from. How ironic!

Final Thoughts

Overall its a fantastic drama that follows what the old can do for the young. They teach us lessons, keep us out of trouble and most importantly, they make sure that we don’t make the same mistakes or take the same steps that they took. Eastwood effectively saves the life of Tau by giving his life.


Well that wraps up this review, how do you find Gran Torino? Was the humour just right or a little too racist for ya?  Leave your thoughts below whether they be critical or not.

And now I bid you all farewell, till next time.

LL

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