Muses by Tom


My sociological take on Gran Torino

Posted in Movies by Tom on May 30, 2010
Tags: , , , , ,

So this was an assignment that I had, but I found it interesting. I had to look at how a fictional movie deals with death.  I chose Gran Torino because, well, it’s an awesome movie and Clint Eastwood is the man.

“Some may ask, ‘What is death? Is the end, or is it the beginning?’” The movie Gran Torino, starring Clint Eastwood, shows death on a number of levels.  We see the death of Eastwood’s wife and his grieving process, and we see the death of his neighbor, and how a completely different Asian culture deals with loss.  The common ground in both parties having lost someone dear to them brings Eastwood and his neighbors together as they deal with the murder of someone in a quite unorthodox way; revenge.

Eastwood deals with death throughout the movie by isolating himself from everybody, including his family, and putting up a hard exterior.  He tries to maintain his independence by carrying on with life and continuing to do his jobs around the house and around town.  While Eastwood looks to be okay on the outside it is evident that on the inside he is in a lot of pain.  His wife was the only person Eastwood really cared for, and now that she is gone, he only has his dog and an ungrateful family.  He does a good job of trying to hide it, but Eastwood shows signs of loneliness and pain.

The local priest tries to get Eastwood to open up and talk about the death of his wife in the movie, but he bottles everything up.  He will not talk about the tragedy and instead becomes very defensive.  This is one very common coping mechanism that I have seen a good deal.  He shuts his emotions off and swallows the pain, never speaking of his wife to anybody.

When Eastwood’s neighbor is gunned down by gang members, all the hate he has for the Asian family dissolves.  He can feel their pain and can empathize with them.  While the two parties have no common ground, death is what brings them together.  Eastwood can see the agony in his neighbors and exacts a plan to get revenge; partly for his neighbors, and partly to let go of the pain surrounding the loss of his wife.  Eastwood leaves his dog, the only thing he has any emotional attachment to, with his neighbors and goes off to get his revenge.  Eastwood shows up without a gun, hoping only to scare the violent gang members who committed the murder, fully knowing they would have guns.  When Eastwood reaches into his pocket, he is ultimately shot and killed.  Eastwood went into the altercation knowing he might not make it out alive and prepared himself to pass on.  He has come to terms with the death of his wife and has accepted what happened.  It seems that at the end of the movie, Eastwood died peacefully, though violently.

What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Any other theories?

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One Response to 'My sociological take on Gran Torino'

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  1. Manny Lamb said,

    Yes it seems that the central character found peace in the end. A violent way to go that implied that the end justifies the means.

    Manny Lamb


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