February 05, 2009

Clint Eastwood's "Gran Torino" - Suggesting a Makeover?


Gran Torino is a Ford trademark car, and given that the Ford Motor Company may be on it's last leg while battling the current US economy crisis, the title of this movie may carry a deeper significance. "Gran Torino" the movie, reminded me of a bunch of movies that I have enjoyed in the recent past, and in all of them I find a thread that binds. Little Miss Sunshine, Babel, Slumdog Millionaire, Crash, and now "Gran Torino"; all carry the message of reaching out to fellow beings who are unlike you: be it a dysfunctional family member, a people belonging to a foreign culture in a foreign land, a third world underdog who inexplicably earns a stupendous amount of money, or strangers who come together due to a chance happening. Clint Eastwood's "Gran Torino" features yet another reaching out by and to a very disgruntled war veteran living in the mid-west, who having recently lost his wife of some 40+ years finds himself on the verge of misanthropy. The two things that keep him sane are his dog Daisy and his vintage muscle car, a Gran Torino that he cherishes more than his life. However, even this sanity is forever threatening to snap. The slightest provocation can have Walt reach for his gun while mouthing the choicest of abuse. The young pastor of the local church who insists Walt go into confession, local gun toting black, Korean, and Latino gangs, and his immediate neighbors, an immigrant family from Laos are some of Walt's victims that draw contempt, ire, and gunfire from the "all American" Walt.

"Gran Torino" is a movie about what transpires when disparate ethnic groups live in close proximity amid a socioeconomic reality that is dysfunctional but all pervasive as it defines their very existence. "Gran Torino" does not articulate any profundities, and neither does it boast a complex storyline, yet it makes the audience revisit the basics of what it means to be human, and shows them how camaraderie can soften blows and minimize pain of our everyday life. As for the title and it's deeper significance, Clint Eastwood may be suggesting a makeover for this country, a chance to redeem itself, and to revisit the faith on which this country was built:
"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free..."

"Gran Torino" is a heartfelt story simply told!

9 comments:

net-net4 said...

Id it is said ...

Welcoming the new 365
with a muted drive?
The subdued colors
a message convey;
a hope covert
those lines display..

- Id It Is -

Nice to read your thoughts !

Georg said...

Bonjour Iddy,

I would like to see this movie. We'll have it here at the telly in about 2 years......

CE is nearly always worthwhile to have a look.

Thanks for the new word "muscle car". Splendid.
And how do you call the contrary??

Cheers
Georg

starry nights said...

Love the review.I enjoyed seeing little miss sunshine,have not seen "Gran Torino" have to wait for it to come on video.

Dr. Deb said...

It's on my list to see before the Oscars.

pRicky said...

Hmm any online link where I can catch the film?
I think You are right when you connect Little miss sunshine, babel and Slumdog to a certain extent...
I feel a film about a machine plays on dynamics of a kind which are contradictary atleast they seem so in a human

Have updated Desi Reruns

Saadia said...

It has got nothing to do with 'Gran Torino' but I'm wondering if you've seen 'Brideshead Revisited'.

The movie's unusual - compared to things I've seen - not to mention, the beautiful backdrop of English country-side and Oxford. I'd love to read your impressions of the movie and/or the novel.

D said...

I think we all like those movies...which are unreal yet real. We want the world to be right, while holding tight to what we have. Movies just tell the story of someone who has gone right and turned things right. We enjoy that.
But what happens then? Do the Slumdog lives on to become a better human? Or Walt manages to change a few lives? I don't know...but perhaps that is what cinema is all about...feel good.

Id it is said...

D,
That is a valid point you raise; does art have a responsibility beyond itself? Well, any piece of art is but a rendition of how the artist sees his world, and as an audience we can take away from it whatever captures our imagination the most. In the case of Slumdog there was a great deal of variation on what people took away from the movie and therefore the movie is making waves since people can't agree on the artist's perspective. As far as Gran Torino goes, you are right it is a feel good movie, but only upto a point because there is a lot of trash around Walt that does not seem to change for the better like he does, like the street gangs that persist despite the many Walts that may come and go. So I think the aftermath and impact of a movie is best left alone however much one would like it to have a cleansing impact on society.

EYE said...

i am not surprised if Malladi says that the Danish language is hard to follow. It is actually a tongue twister. :) There are a considerable amount of foreign students here. i have seen a number of Muslim women here, they stand out because of their burquas and hijabs. Denmark is supposed to be the 'happiest country of world'because of its social security schemes and the quality of life people have here. As far as race is concerned, isn't it an issue burning the whole of Europe? In France young african migrants create law and order problems on a daily basis(torching cars). i have heard that this happens in Denmark too. i have to live here for some more time to get a better understanding of this.