Gran Torino is a must-see film for community builders. I got the feeling watching it that Clint Eastwood did this film because he knew it needed to be produced.
Walt Kowalski, Eastwood's character, a veteran of the Korean War , lives in a radically changed community in Detroit, Michigan. His long-time home neighborhood is now populated largely by immigrants.
Take a look at this trailer here.
Kowalski's relationship with his priest, Father Janovich, played by Christopher Carley, and the family next door evolves over the course of the story. Both become determinative for him as his own understanding of community and his own humanity grow.
The Hmong family who are neighbors, led by teens Tao (Ben Vang) and Sue Lor (Anhey Her), welcome him into their lives in ways that are infinitely more satisfying than his experience with his own children who are disconnected from him following the death of his wife.
The interplay between Kowalski and his young protege, Tao, as it relates to his immaculate 1972 Ford Gran Torino is more than fun to watch.
The messages from the film are many, and will be obvious to those who spend their days at the work of building community against the barriers of race and class and clan. This is a graphic film (containing tough language!) about reconciliation, redemption and authenitc love expressed across racial, cultural and generational lines.
If you've seen it or once you've seen it, I'd love your take on the film.
Speaking of community building, you've got to read Gerald Britt's latest Op-Ed essay in today's issue of The Dallas Morning News right here.
What do you think?