Analytical Essay - Gran Torino
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, isolated and intolerant man, and near the end of the film, his character becomes considerably different.
Eastwood establishes Kowalski as a man of principles: he considers respect and intelligence as the foundation of life and has not moved on from the white picket fence American way of life of the post World War 2 era. The movies catalyst is the boy Thao, who Kowalski doesn’t like from the start of the film. This comes to a head when his neighbour’s son, Thao, tries to steal his prize possession, his Gran Torino as part of a gang initiation. Thao tries to steal his car at night, which is a use of the technique – pathetic fallacy – as the darkness reflects Thao’s criminal intentions. When Kowalski catches him in the act, Thao bumps the lamp in the garage, causing the light to swing back and forth. At this point Kowalski is pointing his gun at him, and the swinging lamp lights up Kowalski’s face, and then takes it back to shadow. This use of light and shadow represents Kowalski’s conflicting emotions. The shadow depicts his war-scarred past, which is urging him to shoot, and the light represents the peace-time, in which he knows he knows he shouldn’t shoot. The gang then comes back for Thao. Once again, this happens at night,...
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