Beard, W. (2011). Gran Torino: Clint Eastwood as Fallen Saviour . CineAction, 54-61.
"Gran Torino: Clint Eastwood as Fallen Saviour" is about the theme of the American Dream throughout the film, but it is not optimistic. It is about Walt's slow realization that he has simultaneously lost and found the American dream. He has lost it himself. After the war, he never had a chance at the typical American dream everybody lusts after. However, he sees the American dream he once wanted, ironically, reflected in the eyes of his young Hmong neighbor. Having once hated the Hmong people because of the war, this is at first perplexing to him, but Tao and his sister soon show Walt they are good people who are worthy of the American dream. Walt believes this so deeply, he sacrifices himself for them.
Burk, L. (2010). Politically Incorrect:Gran Torino and Racial Facades. Writing 20, 21-24.
This article explains how sometimes Gran Torino can be racially insensitive to the Hmong people, as well as other groups that Walt insults throughout the film. Racial stereotypes are preyed upon throughout the film, as well, in order to allow Walt many opportunities to express his hatred for those who are not like him. While the article is valid, it neglects to point out that he is not a white supremacist. He simply appears to hate everyone. He does not enjoy the company of white people over black people or Hmong people. He likes his dog, Daisy, and misses his wife, but even shows disdain for members of his own family. It is not until we meet Tao that we see Walt is prejudiced against people he thinks will not work for their money, or act like decent humans to one another.
Modleski, T. (2010). Clint Eastwood and Male Weepies. Oxford Journals, 136-158.
"Clint Eastwood and the Male Weepies" is a scholarly article reviewing the film Gran Torino. It affectionately applauds Clint Eastwood for his earlier work, carving out his niche as being a stereotypically hardened man, grizzled by the elements. The accolades, as well as the reputation earned him the opportunity to being Gran Torino in much the same fashion, and end it without firing a single weapon. It was noted as uncharacteristic, but necessary for the plot, which centralized around racism and violence, which the main character, Walt, was trying to end. The review suggested Eastwood had grown not only as an actor but also as a director, taking on parts and concepts that normally were not considered in his wheelhouse. The mentioned discrepancies were forgiven because, according to the review, Eastwood appeared to make an honest attempt at conveying an older war veteran making amends with a younger generation that descended from his enemies.
Roche, M. W. (2011). Cultural and Religious Reversals in Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino . Religion and the Arts, 648-679.
This article explains the various contexts in which religion is used to show Walt's character evolution through the film. He begins in a funeral parlor at his wife's service. He is not interested in the Catholic services, nor in anything the young Catholic priest says when he attempts comfort Walt. Despite his love for his wife, thought her silly for seeking comfort in the Father while she was dying. As the movie progresses, we see Walt grow closer to the Hmong neighbors, and even partake in some of their religious rituals. Language acts as a barrier, and he is free to interpret the situation as he likes. Eventually, he begins to succumb to the Father, but does not fully reconnect with his faith until he locks Tao in his basement and confesses the "murders" he committed during war, that he was never able to confess to anybody else. Feeling cleansed, he is able to sacrifice himself so that Tao may live on and he may join his wife. Ironically, it took his reconnection with a people, and a religion he had hated most of his life for this closure to take place.
Tognetti, F. (2009). Gran Torino: A Foreign Neighborhood. Other Modernities, 378-381.
"Gran Torino: A Foreign Neighborhood" speaks of the movie's implications on the American dream for immigrants. The young Hmong boy whom Walt takes under his wing after he attempts to steal his car proves to be a good person. If he stays on the right road, it is likely he will end up being a fine young man. Walt sees more work ethic in this young, foreign boy than he does in his own American children and grandchildren who often appear ungrateful and lazy. In contrast, Tao's cousins are only out to cause trouble. They attempt to initiate Tao into a gang, beat up his sister, and shoot up his house in a drive-by. Despite Walt's previous racism toward the Hmong people because of the war, he eventually sees that Tao wants what Walt once wanted: The American Dream. Walt is old, and decided that because Tao is young, he should have a chance to get what he wants. He sacrifices himself so Tao may receive the dream he so longs for.