After an attack on the Vietnamese next door to him by a bunch of no good gang bangers, Walt is fed up and ready for justice. He goes at night to the house where Tao’s cousin and his gang friends live. The scene starts as Walt approaches the house the gang members inside see him and step out onto the porch. As words are exchanged between Walt and them, more and more guns begin to be pointed at him. People in surrounding houses watch silently. Walt puts a cigarette in his mouth and reaches in for his jacket for a lighter (making it look as if he is about to pull out a gun).
Rounds and rounds are unloaded on him, and he falls to the ground with his prized lighter in hand. The police arrive and take away the gang bangers. We see that Walt stepped down from his almost divine and staunch like pedestal to become friends and immerse himself with his Vietnamese neighbors, just as Jesus stepped down from his divine nature to empty himself and save our sins. Walt’s actions will truly help to clean up the neighborhood and create a better life for all those who reside in that gang riddled neighborhood.
The Gospel of John 10:15 and 15:13 both have an overall notion that there is no greater love than laying down one’s life for God and his children. Such a powerful message that truly seems to embody and highlight the overall theme of the movie Gran Torino. The overarching theme of Gran Torino seems to be one of freedom, justice, and love of one’s neighbors. Walt Kowalski truly embodies these themes as his old school personality is riddled with strong beliefs engrained with justice. All throughout the movie, the Vietnamese gang is met with great opposition by none other than Walt Kowalski.
He is absolutely disgusted with and hates to see the neighborhood littered with gang bangers who act as though they are completely free, have no respect or sense of justice, and could care less about loving one’s neighbor. Right then and there we see that there is going to be quite a bit of conflict between Walt and these men, and that proves true as Walt lays down his life for the love of one’s neighbor. Injustice, disrespect, and a disregard for love and one’s neighbor are the ideals that Walt Kowalski cant stand to see riddle the neighborhood that he lives in.
Walt becomes an almost Christ like figure at the end of the movie as he gives himself up for love, just as Jesus did for humanity. One symbol that has a truly great importance throughout the movie is Walt’s Gran Torino, that he himself actually helped build on the assembly line. The Gran Torino is a relic and a symbol of the past, of pride, of a job done right, and of his ideas that he hopes to pass on to future generations. The Gran Torino symbolizes a time when life used to make more sense, where people like him used to live and where old school ideals and lifestyles were prevalent.
He now lives in a neighborhood riddled with gang activity and folks unlike himself (Hmong). In a world polluted with misguided thoughts and actions, the Gran Torino stands strong. This shows that although he now lives in the world where he does, his old school ideals and beliefs remain. The pride that Walt has in his Gran Torino is so truly apparent in this film. We see his immense pride in a job done right, one of Walt’s defining characteristics. But the Gran Torino is most importantly a symbol of the ethics and beliefs that Walt holds dear that he wants to be passed on to future generations.
His old school beliefs coupled with his immense amount of pride and sense of justice are what the Gran Torino embodies. He wants these ideals to be passed on to future generations in a world where such ideals are hard to find. This is truly seen in Walt mentoring Tao and allowing him to work on and also use the Torino. We see the embodiment of this symbol when at the end of the movie, the Gran Torino is left to Tao in his will, showing that Walt truly hopes what he believes in will still be true in future generations.