He knows that as he performs on set, his audience is also remembering his previous role as a character in the film Avenging Angels and the Man with No Name. In Gran Torino, Kowalski is a widower that holds on the prejudices ignoring the changes taking place in the Michigan neighborhood (Carvalho 2012). He is tough-minded, old-fashioned, and does not seem to be in a mutual understanding with his children nor the neighbors. In fact, the only thing he adores at first is his prized possession, the Gran Torino, from which the name of the movie is derived.
The strength of the cast involves the influence of the Hmong Minnesotans that have moved into the neighborhood, whereby almost all of them were new at acting. This does a lot in bringing out the clear difference between Walt’s hardstand point and the easy-going neighbors (Yuen 2008). Then there is a bookish neighbor kid that tries to make a name by stealing Walt’s Gran Torino. This incident is expected to end up in quite an unlikely good relationship between the kid and Walt afterwards.
One would assume that a racist, insulting individual like Walt would respond in that manner to someone who tries to steal his vehicle, which is quite valuable to him. However, to everyone’s surprise, he does the opposite. Walt did things in the Korean War just as any soldier would and thus experienced stress related to war environments. During that time, he did not care for new alliances but focused on killing people just as he had been deployed to do. In fact, Schenk comments that all of the Asian communities are the same, so one would expect Walt to show the same character.
In this way, he finds another culture that is unknown and just as rare as it gets, he helps fight for independence when he is at war. Probably, it is the war experience or the fact that he fought beside them and experienced war on their behalf, but Walt comes to know more about the community, which helps him to reflect on his issues of his past misdeeds while learning more about them. For one, Eastwood has always dealt with contemporary issues of race, gender, and religion in the most honest way he could, and which could portray itself as controversial when seen from a political perspective (Burk 2010).
For every kind of behavior, there is a reason behind it. Thus, in this film Walt proves to us this common saying. His racial insults may come out more than the tobacco that he spits, though, with time it becomes obvious that insults based on racial grounds are more of coming from the male’s need to stay in control than from actual difference of race (Yuen, 2008). One would also argue that he did hate other races, but he is getting soft and allowing emotions to take the better part of his judgment. Interestingly, the most real racists express distaste on one race; however, Walt expresses an equal dislike for all the different races around him until a Hmong thief makes a difference.