Wow, this is one of the most redemptive movies (i.e. it tells the Story) I've seen in awhile.
This has a thick story line, with so much to reflect on afterwards. Here are some thoughts, in no particular order. If you haven't seen it, only read #1...
1. Gran Torino told the truth about the world: it's a jacked up place where hope is found in a very unusual place.
The movie was extremely vulgar and boldly offensive. And yet, by the end, I was in no way tempted to sin. In fact, I hated sin for its death-giving effects. My mind was engaged, and emotions moved. I had the thought, "That was worth watching."
Cicero is famous for naming the three functions of rhetoric: docere (teach), motivere (motivate), and delectere (delight). In my mind, Gran Torino accomplished all three.
Warning: spoilers ahead... read after watching...
2. I rarely see the complexities of life in the inner city so up close and personal
- The fighting and hate among ethnic groups such as Hmong, Hispanic, African American, etc
- The diversification of "white" neighborhoods. One thinks, "Why can't you move out?" while the other, "Why did you have to move in?"
- Racism is often overcome when we actually take the time to get to know people. There's something to love about every culture. God is as much Hmong as American.
3. The power of sharing a meal.
Americans are not good at this, but in other cultures, sharing a meal is a participation together in something spiritual. That's why it was really throwing down when Paul says about the immoral "Christian" in 1 Corinthians 5, "with such a man do not even eat." It also reminds me of the power of communion- what it means to share from one loaf.
4. The challenges of generational conflict.
I loved and yet hated Walt. That generation in particular was not good at showing their emotions, unless it was a fit of anger. But they were fiercely loyal and patriotic citizens (Notice how much the American flag was in the camera shots?). How insightful that he considered not reporting $900 on his taxes to be one of his worst sins.
This is such a "Me" generation, with no respect for elders. His granddaughter was basically waiting for him to die so she could get his couch.
The generational issues were also depicted at the party in the juxtaposition of the older Hmong upstairs, while the teenagers were in the basement.
I think one of the points in the movie was that this is an issue that we're all going to have to address, whatever our ethnicity. It's especially hard for immigrants to lose their ethnic identity in this melting pot called America. I wonder how the early immigrants dealt with this.
5. What manhood is
The movie had an interesting take. It was some truth mixed with worldly nonsense. I'm in the middle of listening to a great message from Mark Driscoll on manhood. This would be a better source for information about Biblical manhood:
6. The challenges of Father/Son relationships
As far as his son was concerned, Walt had become a means to get tickets to a football game. Walt was to blame, and that was his greatest regret in life.
That should cause us to pause: What are we doing as parents that we'll look back and say, "I wish I would've _________ (or wouldn't have__________)"
Walt's true friend became Thao. This was a form of redemption, as Thao became the relationship he never had with his sons.
7. The crucifiction scene
Amazing. Notice how he was laid out on the ground.
8. The heaven scene
This was beautiful and stirred so much emotion in me. The image of a road along a beach that never ends. There was no line on the horizon both vertically (the road) and horizontally (the beach), representing eternity.
Walt died so Thao could be free.
9. "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."
For me, this was the most important take away from the movie. The aftermath of the drive-by shooting scene was unbearable. Everything within me wanted justice. My flesh wanted it now- for Walt and Thao to throw down on those abhorrent thugs.
But in a twist of irony, justice was accomplished through a courageous act of sacrificial love.
In spite of the aforementioned "heaven" scene, the movie rightly left us with the tension that we experience in this world: joy mixed with sorrow, satisfaction filled with longing, and a hope infused with the sting of loss.
There's so much more to say about this movie... Walt's baggage of guilt for having killed men in war, the role of the priest in Walt's conversion, the power of confessing sin to another human...
I was moved by this movie. I'm not sure how many readers I have under age 18, but I would definitely ask your parents before you watch this.
Movie #2= Seven Pounds
This was another great movie. Brilliantly told. To me, one of the greatest apologetics for Christianity is guilt. Why do people feel guilty? How do we solve the problem of guilt?
Notice Ben Thomas' job: tax collector.
The only way for him to get redemption was to offer himself as a sacrifice to atone for his guilt.
This was another great movie. Once again we see that Hollywood can't help but telling the Story. It's written on our hearts.