Gran Torino - Analytical Essay

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Analytical Essay - Gran Torino
Sam Osborne

Q. What kind of man is Walt Kowalski? Examine character development throughout the film Gran Torino?

Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino (2008) is a portrayal of human sacrifice and the racial intolerance that still exists in modern America. The film is set in a poor neighbourhood of Detroit. Clint Eastwood plays Walt Kowalski, a war veteran who has brooded over his experiences in the war for decades. Past trauma has caused him to believe that he cannot trust anyone, and he has therefore developed a deep racism. Eastwood uses many different techniques, including lighting, camera angles, and dialogue to show how the man Walt Kowalski develops throughout the film. Kowalski begins as an angry,
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In the later stages of the film, Kowalski starts ‘bonding’, with Thao. This chain of events starts when Kowalski smiles, and says, “Alright, go get the ladder out of the garage”. There is then a montage of scenes, which show Thao busily working at various chores, which have been building up around the neighbourhood. To accompany the montage, uplifting music is played, for the first time in the movie, signalling a change in Kowalski’s character. Seeing this change in Thao, Kowalski begins looks at life in a completely different way. On the last day of Thao’s punishment Kowalski says, “Take the day off, you’ve earned it”. This demonstrates to the audience that Kowalski truly has changed, for the better. Kowalski rarely gives out compliments, however when he does, he means them. In the closing scenes of the film when Thao’s sister is raped, Kowalski sees this as his fault and resolves to finish the situation between the gang and Thao’s family. He goes to confession and once again, Eastwood uses light to show Kowalski as a man of conflicting natures. Half his face is in shadow, and half is in light, perhaps an omen for what is to come. According to Kowalski, this is the first time he has confessed his wrong doings, since “Ever”. This also shows that Kowalski has become at peace with his inner turmoil of the past, for he finally opens up too someone about his feelings. Then, in the final scene, he sacrifices himself for Thao’s family. This

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