Film Analysis of Gran Torino Visual & Performing Arts Movie Review (Movie Review Sample)
Once you pick a film, and it has been approved, you will write a 1500-2000 word paper that
addresses your selected director’s utilization of narrative, mise-en-scene or cinematography. In
the paper you MUST address AT LEAST ONE of the following points. PLEASE NOTE: you
will lose points if your paper is simply a summarizing of the plot of the film.
1. Narrative Qualities—(see Chapter 4)
• Who wrote the screenplay? Is the screenplay original or adapted from another work?
• Describe what you believe to be an Explicit Meaning for the film.
• Describe what you believe to be an Implicit Meaning for the film.
• What genre do you think best suits this film? Why
• Who is the film’s protagonist? In what ways are we led to root for (or against) this
Film Analysis of Gran Torino
Gran Torino is a 2008 film directed by Clint Eastwood with Nick Schenk credited as the screenwriter. In his younger days, Schenk had a number of jobs including that of a factory worker, which is when he first encountered the Hmong and learned about their connection with the U.S.-supported South Vietnamese forces during the Vietnam War (Rego). He apparently got the idea to introduce a Hmong family as an element of conflict for the main character in a script he was writing about a Korean war veteran of the blue-collar variety, who is trying to deal with a changing world (Rego). This real-life inspiration shapes the main character, Walt Kowalski, a Korean War veteran who worked in the auto industry for thirty years and lives in the deteriorating Highland Park, Michigan. The story covers events from his wife’s funeral to his own funeral at the end of the film. The story revolves around Walt Kowalski’s actions and his interaction with the Hmong family who lives next door in his Detroit neighborhood. The narrative of the film unfolds slowly to tell the story of how and why the protagonist changes over the course of the film.
The explicit meaning of the film is the depiction of life in a multicultural community. At the start of the film, the protagonist, Walt Kowalski, is portrayed as bitter and disgusted with the behavior of the younger generation shown in his reaction to the provocative dress of his granddaughter at the funeral, the perceived arrogance of the young parish priest speaking of death, his son’s attempt to ship him to a home for the elderly, and the Asian community invading his neighborhood. His racist prejudices are reinforced when he catches his neighbor’s son trying to steal his Gran Torino in the middle of the night. He is forced to interact with the Hmong family by Thao’s mother who insists that in their tradition Thao must work for Walt to make amends for trying to steal his car. Thereafter, he becomes friends with the Hmong family living next door, accepts the parish priest’s desire to hear his confession, and sacrifices himself to ensure the gang terrorizing his neighbors go to prison for murder. Therefore, the explicit plot events support the story of a character whose goal to oppose new ways is in conflict with a man who needs inner peace. The main character’s racist views and bitter demeanor are the obstacles that he has to overcome to attain redemption for his past mistakes.
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