Starter text response: Gran Torino ‘Gran Torino’ is a film full of symbols of hope and redemption. Discuss. In his film ‘Gran Torino’, Clint Eastwood tells the story of an unlikely relationship between Korean War veteran Walt Kowalski and his Hmong neighbours Thao and Sue. The film explores the possibility of redemption, “second chances”, and the hope that comes from having a positive future. Both Walt and Thao experience redemption in the film. Walt is saved from the guilt of murder and broken relationships.
Ultimately, Walt finds “peace” with himself, with others and with God. Walt’s young neighbour Thao is rescued from a future of crime and violence, and the shame of attempted theft. Ultimately, Thao gains a future as a hard-working, respectable American man. As Eastwood tells his story of second chances and the hope they bring, he uses symbols to represent the redemption of both Walt and Thao. Three physical symbols in the world of the film that stand for redemption and hope are Walt’s Gran Torino, food and Walt’s cigarette lighter.
Walt’s 1972 Ford Gran Torino represents Thao’s journey of redemption from a life of crime and immaturity to becoming a hard-working, respected American man. Thao begins his ‘manhood training’ with his cousin Spider as his only role model, and a life of crime his only career choice. Stealing Walt’s Gran Torino is his initiation task. The car at this point represents both Thao’s hope of acceptance and respect from Spider who announces “my little cousin be a man” when Thao accepts the task. The car also represents the dangerous lifestyle he is being initiated into: it is an object to steal, and Walt nearly shoots him in the shed.
However, as Walt takes Thao under his wing and offers the young man a different life path, the car comes to represent a positive future. For a start, the car represents the rewards of hard work. After washing the car Walt sits on the porch, satisfied and remarks, “Ain’t she sweet. ” Later in the film, we see Thao washing Walt’s Gran Torino – working on the car instead of stealing it. The car also represents prestige in the eyes of other men. For example, Kennedy the construction supervisor asks Walt when he can have “the keys” to his Gran Torino, and looks down on
Thao for getting a lift. Without a car, Thao is dependent and still a boy. When Walt lends him the Gran Torino to take Youa on a date, he is giving Thao independence and the possibility of a girlfriend. Furthermore, the Gran Torino represents being a genuine American man. Walt built the car when he worked for Ford, and despises the “Jap-burners” that his son Mitch drives around in and sells. Likewise, Spider (an ‘anti-citizen’) drives a white Honda in every scene he appears in, except the last one. When Walt leaves the Gran Torino to Thao in his will, he is giving him more than a car.
He is giving him a reward for work, a source of prestige, independence, and an American identity. The closing scene of the film shows Thao driving the car down an esplanade, a young man with a future, and hope. To Walt, the reason he got his medal of valour wasn’t for a good reason. It was because he shot a Korean. After the war, Walts was left broken and scarred and especially after Dorothys death, Walt had many issues he needed to solve. Fr suggested he should do a confession and that it would help to heal him.
You never really hear about the medal much but at the end of the film when Walt does a confession, even though it wasn’t the confession Fr was expecting, Walt has been healed. He sees what he has to do to serve and protect again. To protect Thao, Sue and his Hmong ‘family’. He serves and protects them like when he was in the war. He gives Thao his medal as a sign that Thao has become a man and he is brave. Then Walt goes off to fight for him. The medal shows a sign of excellence and bravery, which Walt has helped bring out in Thao.
Thao also help Walt bring that excellence and bravery back into Walt. When Walt face off spider and his gang and goes to grab his lighter, he kept it in his left breast pocket. Thao clipped the medal onto his left breast pocket. It was as if Walt, although he was just grabbing a lighter, was touching his medal to show he was being loyal. Walt sharing food with his Hmong neighbours shows acceptance and openness. Walt wasn’t used to sharing with people. He never shared any interests or hobbies with his children, grandchildren and rarely saw them.
After his wife’s death he was all alone and didn’t have the need to share anything any more. When Walt ran out of beer, and Sue offered him to attend her family BBQ Walt was unsure weather he should accept or not. He decides to go and open himself up a little. By going to the BBQ he learns about his Hmong neighbours. He learns a little about their culture, their food and simply just learning that they aren’t bad people. The sharing food symbolises that they are open to each other, able to share and enjoy things together in harmony.
At the scene where they are sharing food, Walt has started to heal a little bit. Walt gains redemption by sharing food with his Hmong neighbours. He has learned how to communicate with people better. In conclusion, Walt has found his redemption through many symbols in the film. Through his Gran Torino, his medal of Valour and by sharing food with his Hmong neighbours. He learnt how to give, how to protect and love, and how to communicate with people, even those he has despised for many years. In the end of the film Walt had found his redemption.