Gran Torino is 2008 movie directed my Clint Eastwood that tells the story of the Korean War veteran Walt, who faces his wife’s death and appears to be the only American on the street, where only immigrants live. He is a lonely old man with a conservative perception of life, but he transforms to the end of the movie, as he tries to protect Hmong family from the gangsters. The story is abundant with sociological and psychological concepts of prejudice, racism, attitudes, behavior and cultural diversity. The psychosocial aspects of ageing are masterly expressed through Walt’s behavior, as a stiffened and prejudiced old man, who has witnessed the war, the death, got alienated with his family, and feels unable to feel happiness, finds the purpose of existence in the communication with Hmong family and helping Hmong children, Thao and Sue.
The initial behavior of Walt and his transformation is explained by the continuity theory, as “latent structures of behavior (emotions, cognition, and motivations) carried forward from earlier experiences that interact with present situations” (Shroots 744). The lifestyle, the war and the stereotypes of the previous decades have influenced his attitudes and behavior. However, what at first seems to be racism appears to be a call for respectful attitudes and family values. And Walt’s redemption for his previous behavior is achieved, when he comes to understanding that “[he has] got more in common with these gooks than [his] own spoilt, rotten family.” (Eastwood et al.). Walt’s involvement with the future of Sue and Thao allows him achieving the sense of continuity, because he passes his values and experience to younger generations. The final accords of this continuity are his sacrifice to safe the family form the gangsters and his last will to present Thao with the precious Gran Torino.
Gran Torino explains the distress and anger the old person faces while ageing and how it can affect both the individual and the environment. Walt is an example of a person that has suffered a lot, but did not lose his convictions and beliefs that were keeping him strong and decisive. Psychosocial theories allow analyzing and interpreting his transformations on the deeper level and understand the premises of his earlier behavior.
Eastwood, C., Vang, B., Her, A., and Carley, C. Gran Torino. Burbank, CA: Warner Home Video, 2009.
Schroots J.J.F. “Theoretical Developments in the Psychology of Aging.” The Gerontologist, 1996, 36(6): 742-748. Web.