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Characterization- Walt Kowalski Gran Torino Movie - Referat



Walt Kowalski is one of the main characters of the movie “Gran Torino” which was published in 2008. The elderly white man is living in in a well-kept, detached single family house alone with his dog. He owns a driveway with a garage and has a clean garden without flowers. The neighborhood he lives in has been all-white half a century ago, but now he is the only white person living there because the majority of habitants are Hmong. He lives in Detroit, which has been the Motor City from the 50s to the 80s but lost its glory in the last decades. Ford Motors has produced their cars in this city.

He has two sons, several grandchildren and his wife has just passed away. The relationship between him, his sons and his grandchildren is not very strong. They haven’t been celebrating Thanksgiving meals with each other and it seems like they also do not spend time with each other. Not only his grumpy behavior towards them, but also the tactless actions of the grandchildren increase the tension between the family members. Maybe the dead grandmother has been the shock absorber who kept the family together. The friends he is seeing inside the bar, don’t show up at his funeral. Their friendship seems superficial and the only thing you see them talking about is racist jokes.

The young catholic priest that held the funeral service talks to Walt several times. Walt, an Atheist who is against everything and everyone tells him to leave him alone. The priest confronts him with topics like life and death and the wish of his deceased wife for him to go to confession anyways. The viewer finds out here that Walt has killed many people throughout the war and knows more about death than he does about life. He is seeing himself as better and more experienced as the priest.

He disguises his neighbors and calls them “swamp rats” and “barbarians” which can be explained because he has been a soldier in the Korean war and fought against other Asians. Walt dislikes Thao, one of the teenagers that live next door because he is asking for jumper cables at the wrong time (in Walt’s opinion). He also thinks that the former owner of the house that Thao’s family lives in, would roll over in his
grave if he could see what the Asian family does inside the house and what they do with the lawn. It is possible that he is suffering posttraumatic stress disorder.

The vintage car that Walt Kowalski owns is a Ford Gran Torino which was produced in 1972. It has a deep meaning for Walt and it has a big role in the movie. Not only does Ashley, Walt’s tactless granddaughter ask him if she could get it after he has passed away, but also the gang that Thao’s cousin is a member of notices the worth of the vehicle.
Walt is one of the most important characters. Because of his rude behavior in the beginning the viewer dislikes him. When you find out more about his situation, you learn that he has bad war-time memories and a sad lonely life. I think Walt is unable to let joy and people who offer him companionship, friendship or even love into his live because he hasn’t come over the chapter of sadness and war. He lives in the past and it seems like the only thing he feels a sense of belonging to is the patriotism to his country and his car, the Ford Gran Torino.




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