Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Gran Torino: a "must see" for community builders

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?


rcorum said...

I saw the movie over the weekend, and it is a totally must see movie. I knew a former Green Beret at our church who fought along side and trained the Hmong people. He described them as people of great honor. He trusted them totally. I might write a bit more later, but it was one of the best movies I have seen in sometime. I am always amazed how relationships can be built if one person will not give up.

Eric Livingston said...

I saw this on Monday, and I agree - a great film. Certainly there are great messages about community building, but what struck me the most were the relationships that were built over table fellowship.

It was a Hmong meal (and beer) that finally broke down barriers between the neighbors and initiated relationship. Table fellowship continued to bind them together. It was table fellowship that built a love so deep, that it was capable of self sacrifice.

Craig said...

One of my top 5 in recent memory. Great story of relationship and redemption. Good insight about table fellowship, but it strikes me that perhaps as important was the task fellowship - working together towards a common good - as a factor in building community.
By the way, another in my top 5 is The Visitor - well worth your time if you haven't seen it.

Larry James said...

We've found that sharing a meal, working on an agreed upon agenda--usually developed over a meal or many means!--and loving those around you--these are the essential building blocks of communitiy. The end product is always somehow redemptive.

It is at these same tables that political agendas are hammered out--not just on a large national stage, but local.

Anonymous said...

Amazing movie! All about relationships, breaking down barriers and self sacrifice. About as many Christian themes - subtly interwoven - as I can remember seeing in a movie. And from, as far as I know, folks with no particular Christian proclivities. The thematic overlap is just coincidental.

mundiejc said...

My favorite part of this movie (among many) was the ending, not giving it away here, but lets just say its not where you expect a typical Eastwood film to go. And its themes are very very biblical... loved it.

Janet said...

I thought it was also powerful that for his own self-benefit, he decided Tao needed to spruce up the house across the street...which led to neighbors putting in their requests that allowed a teenager in the community to do good for all.