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Psychological Concepts In The Film Gran Torino

1572 words - 6 pages

Clint Eastwood’s film “Gran Torino” traces the end of the life of Walt Kowalski. He has recently gone through a lot – the death of his beloved wife, his distant relationship with his son, his emotional scars from the Korean War and his bad health. All these things stop him from living a proper life. He doesn’t care about himself much – he smokes even though he is sick, he doesn’t eat a lot, he refuses to confess even though that was his wife’s last wish. However, all this changes when he meets the Hmong Family that lives next door. At the beginning he detests them because of their similarity to the Koreans, but later, as he gets to know them, they become the family that he was never able to have. The story traces the psychological changes in Walt’s character due to his unusual bond with the Hmong family, which changes are one of the main strengths of the film.
The film begins with the funeral of Walt’s wife. She used to keep Walt going and her death ruined him. He is not in peace with himself and he refuses to talk with the Padre about the things that bother him. From his dialogues with the Padre we understand that Walt knows more about death, than he knows about living. According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs we can suggest that he is far away from reaching his self-actualization, because he does not feel safe and he does not belong even to his family. Walt is not close with his sons and grandchildren and they have no respect for him. Walt’s grandchildren even refuse to visit him on his birthday, although they know that he is alone after their grandmother’s death. This family can be considered to be unusual, because normally the oldest people should be the most respected of the whole family. A contrast to that is the house right next door where the Hmong family lives. While Walt is mourning, the Hmong family is celebrating the birth of a child. Their family as a whole seems to be also in contrast with Walt’s – they respect each other, they are highly spiritual and they have strong moral values. They have a family shaman that is the eldest and most respected person. In the beginning Walt cannot and does not want to understand them, because he hates them on a racial basis and because he was never part of such a warm family as theirs.
Eventually the two families get united by an accident. A neighborhood gang tries to use Thao (the youngest boy from the Hmong family) for stealing Walt’s car. The gang has low morality. They have abandoned their families, but as it is explained it the film, this is the stereotype of how boys of Hmong origin act in their adolescence. Thao does not fit in this stereotype, because his mother and his sister – Sue, try to protect him from this abnormal (for the society) behavior. Thao fails as a thief and Walt catches him while Thao tries to steal the car. The next time the gang tries to involve Thao in their guilty business, Walt gets involved again. He saves Thao from the gang, but he does that not because he cares...

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