S: Gran Torino
FC: English 9/10 Film Study Group Presentation David Stein & Jeffrey Kung
1: The outskirts of Michigan, home to many menacing gangs, impoverished Hmong foreigners, gruesome crimes, chronic fear, and...the desolate Walt Kowalsky. Living solitary as a result of his wife’s recent death, Walt Kowalsky is an tough, elderly person whose service with the American military and participation in the Korean war results in his sullen, grumpy demeanor, his horrifying, reoccurring nightmares on the battlefield, his lucid racism towards Asians, his harsh, curse-streaked words, and perhaps his lonely, withdrawn life. He completely disapproves of his family members, accusing them of being boorish, offensive, and unprincipled, however, the troubled veteran resents himself for not having a good relationship with them. Walt is one of the last Caucasians left in his community, and considering his racial intolerability, it wasn’t unforeseen when he openly and loudly articulated his disgust at the Lor family when they move in next door. Little did he know that these people would soon drastically alter his perspective on his own life, his opinion of foreign people, even his regard on his own family! Not surprisingly, the bond between the two parties starts off roughly. Tiao, the youngest member of the Lor family, was urged and pressured into stealing the veteran’s 1972 Ford Gran Torino by his cousin’s sinister gang. At this time, Tiao hasn’t received the counseling of Walt and was therefore still a feeble-willed individual. Thus, the timid teenager allowed himself be bestowed by his ominous cousin, complying out of fear and out of the desire of being protected by these thugs. Thus, at twelve o’clock midnight, he went to do the gang’s bidding. Having no experience in malefaction, Tiao made a huge commotion in process of his compulsion, awakening and prompting Walt to investigate his garage. After encountering Walt, Tiao flees back to his house in fear of being hurt, despite his cousin’s protest. The gangsters weren't pleased at his utter failure, but they decided to go to Tiao’s house the following day to give him another chance in highjacking the vintage vehicle. After arriving at the Lor residence and discovering that Tiao was unwilling to persist, the gangsters tried to forcefully abduct him in order to force him to execute their wishes. Tiao’s relatives tried unsuccessfully to defend him. A skirmish breaks out between the conflicting sides. The brawl was noisy enough to attract Walt, who came out of his den with his trusty rifle and threatened to kill them if they do not leave. The gangsters, forced to comply, malevolently told Walt to “watch his back” and left promptly. The word of Walt’s deeds spread quickly. Many people within the neighborhood, all of them of Hmong descent, thanked Walt for his kind actions by leaving gifts on his front porch. The brave veteran was even invited by Sue, Tiao’s older sister, to dine at their house as a way of expressing their gratitude. Walt accepted their invitation, and it was at that moment that Walt started to build something he has never had for years. A friendship. The Lor family, who were feeling remorseful for Tiao’s actions, wanted to make amends by sending him to work for Walt for a few weeks. The elderly American grudgingly accepts out of politeness, and the following day, Tiao was sent to his house. At first, Walt constantly scorned and looked down on Tao, but soon, after discovering TIao’s true personality, becomes cordial with the young teenager, and decided to teach him how to the skills he needs to become successful in life Throughout this period, Walt protects the Lor children countless times from Tiao’s cousins, becoming a father figure to them. However, the wise veteran knows that with the Hmong gang still active, Tao and Sue will constantly be terrorized and will never live in peace. With knowledge of this, Walt decides to do something drastic to protect them and tries to restore peace in this neighborhood. | Synopsis
2: Tiao Lor | Walt Kowalski | Sue Lor | Main characters
3: Steve Kowalski Mitch Kowalski | Hmong Gang, who are terrorizing Tiao.
4: Part 2: How the film influences Society & Culture
5: The first perspective of civilization and culture that has been altered by this movie is the public’s reaction to bullies, or in this case, gangs. There are many diverse methods the writers utilize to inform us, as in the viewers of the film, not to be intimidated and frightened by these degenerates, but to be assertive and to stand up for yourself. In the film, there are many gangs lurking around the neighborhood in which Walt and his Hmong neighbors dwell in. As all of you know, the Hmong gang are particularly aggressive and terrorizing and are mostly responsible for all the conflict in Tiao’s family. As shown in diverse instances, all of the Hmong citizens, including Tiao’s own family, are aware of the countless evils they committed. Yet, they decided to keep the issue secret because they are afraid of standing up to them, as in calmly refusing to comply with them and informing the authorities. Furthermore, they assume that the gang will eventually stop terrorizing them. This is theory is of course, flawed. As shown in the film, the Hmong gang become increasingly aggressive as time passes, as they gain realize that the Lor family would never stand up for themselves. In those incidences, it is shown that merely ignoring these bullies would not improve the situation, and the situation would even magnify as your pursuers discover you are terrified of them, and would by no means protect yourself. The film manifests the most effective way to stand up to bullies. In all of the confrontations the elderly individual has with the gangs, Walt never shows any fear or apprehension, instead standing up to them, making these delinquents realize that Walt cannot be bullied into doing their desires. Some examples of this include when the Hmong gang attempts to snatch Tao in attempt to manipulate him. Walt came out collectively, confronting them without any fear. Another example is when Sue was being harassed by a black gang. Even when he realized they were much stronger than him, he still didn’t back down. He challenges them and tells them let Sue go. Spooked by his biting composure, they released Sue. This movie influences that gangs, or bullies in general, are not unbeatable and and could be scared off with assertiveness and sharp words. After remarking this, Tiao, Sue, and even the rest of the Hmong community become more assertive, and stopped letting the gangs push them around, to the Hmong gangs surprise. People who are tormented by bullies or gangs can be inspired by how Walt is not intimidated by them and could become more brave. After seeing Walt be assertive, Tiao learned to stand up for himself, and he did so multiple times, such as when he stood up to his cousin’s gang when they confronted him in an abandoned street, or when he even stood up to Walt himself when he was sick of the veteran looking down on him and not letting him do any of the laborious chores he wants to do. Walt was both surprised and impressed that Tao has developed some self-respect and changed so much from his former self. By showing these scenes, the director can influence many people not to be intimidated or frightened by bullies, but to stand up to them and use assertive words | Perspective of Bullies + Gangs
6: Walt standing up to a gang who kidnapped Sue
7: Age Gaps The second attribute the film influences our society is our view on age gaps. As we have noticed countless times, our particular society is generally reluctant of being companions with an individual that originate from a contrasting generation. To explain further into detail, we tend to naturally avoid associating with some one that is somewhat younger or older than us just because we assume we wouldn’t get along with, we assume they are “boring” or “immature” because of their particular age, or because we feel we have nothing in common with another generation. This movie strongly disproves these false ways of reasoning with many instances from the movie. For example, Tao and Sue had both befriended the eighty-year old Walt without any traces of hesitation or shame. They were content with associating with another generation, and they did not let a bias such as age gap prevent them from affiliating with the American Vet. Furthermore, Tiao and Walt even had common interests; both of them loved conversing about cars and chatting about work, particularly in construction. There were countless moments in the movie where these two friends are seen happily talking about their corresponding hobbies, just like any another pair of companions. After seeing this experience with Walt and the Lor family, society would unquestionably stop letting shallow aspects such as the latter affect its decision whether or not to associate with someone that is older or younger than itself.
8: Walt and Tiao chatting, ignoring their age gap.
9: Another aspect of society and culture that has been influenced by this film is the public’s view of foreign races. The movie is remarkably effective in shifting the viewer’s perspective of racism because of the potent way Walt’s former persona (as in, the racist disposition he bore before his friendship with Tiao and Sue) indefinitely relates to the manner racist individuals look at immigrants. Walt once loathed the Hmong citizens because of their uncanny and bizarre customs (their chicken slaughtering ritual, to name an example), their “associations” with the threatening Koreans he engaged on the battlefield, and simply just because they behave contrastingly compared to himself. People who do have the same bias approach as Walt can relate themselves to the elderly eight-year old, eventually seeing the error in their discriminating standpoint as they remark the process of Walt realizing that his racist viewpoint of the world is, although justified because of his military background, mistaken and unrighteous. In the beginning of “Gran Torino”, the moment when Walt still had a discriminating stance on foreign citizens, the elderly veteran openly and repeatedly disclosed his hatred for his colored neighbors, openly using racist terms such as gook, chink, zipperhead, or rice sack to describe them. He glared and shunned them every time he encountered them. As the authors vividly portray in the movie, Walt judges the corresponding party without even trying to comprehend their personality and culture more, creating a barrier between them and losing what could be a potential friendship. Walt naturally continued to behave this way until he saved Tiao from the Hmong thugs, which encouraged Sue to chat with him, eventually befriended the battle-scarred veteran. Sue eventually became close enough with Walt to invite him to her house for dinner. Enticed by the young teenager’s promise of food, he decided to follow. At first, he continued to criticize and insult the Hmong culture, but after observing and associating with the Hmong household for a period of time, he reflected to himself that these foreign people are just as normal as any other family, except with a different lifestyle. They were not barbarians, as he once presumed, nor were they associated with the Koreans he still despises so much. Furthermore, he also remarked that these people were more principled, polite, and thoughtful than he had thought them to be. For instance, the veteran saw a teenage boy give up his seat to an elderly woman, a young woman offering tea and cookies to elderly relatives, even little Hmong child assisting her grandfather out of the washroom. Walt even went as far as to say that he “had much more in common with these Gooks than his own spoiled rotten family”, referring to the manners that the Hmong people have and veteran’s family obviously doesn’t possess. All of these scenes will, without doubt, influence our society and make the public much more accepting and respectful of foreign races. | Foreign Races