Gran Torino: Nice Work, Eastwood

At first glance, Gran Torino might seem like another one of those white men saves the day kind of stories that spew out of Hollywood on a regular basis. But it's not. It's a movie about how crossing borders to encounter the personal and particular, as Hazel Rochman put it, can "save" the racist in all of us.

Clint Eastwood liked the script by Nick Schenk, a rookie screenwriter based in Minnesota, so much that he didn't allow a single word to be changed. Schenk credits the friendships he made while on the job, both with war veterans and Hmong factory workers, as inspiration for the story he wrote with his brother's buddy Dave Johannson.

How did the brown people portrayed in the film view this story by a white writer? Asian Week covered the Hmong community's reaction to the film. The general response of Hmong moviegoers has been positive, and (but?), a blog that was critical of the movie, has disappeared.

Two Hmong-American guys, Cedric N. Lee and Mark D. Lee filmed, directed, and produced a documentary about the making of the blockbuster. It's called Gran Torino: Next Door? and is available only on the June 9, 2009 Blu-ray disc release of the Eastwood movie. Here's the preview of Gran Torino, which I recommend as a must-see for those of us who cross borders in our storytelling. Who saves whom, and how, and why?


Karen Day said…
We saw this on Friday night, so interesting that you talk about it this week. They save each other, don't they? Which is the strength of the movie. We watched it with Dylan, age 14, who pulled himself away from the blow up, end of the world dramas that he usually watches. He loved it.
Thanks for this. I'd dismissed this film, but will take another look!
nisha said…
I wasn't too impressed with the acting of the supporting cast in this movie, but I definitely like the idea of "saving" that resonates from Eastwood's character. I'll have to take another look, too!

Thanks 4 the post, Mitali!

Tara said…
I found this film to be deeply moving and am so glad to learn about documentary! Thanks for that info!
Kathy H said…
I was surprised how much I loved this movie. The characters had depth, and as a result seemed very real. Thanks for posting about it.
mclicious said…
Interesting. That movie really scared the bejezus out of me, and that was just the trailer, because it looked like Racistlandia. Now I'd almost like to check it out, because I generally think Clint Eastwood isn't terrible. Thanks for allowing me to re-look, and I loved your School Library Journal article. Just finished reading it and then popped right over here.