"The thing that haunts a man most is what he isn’t ordered to do" -Clint Eastwood as Walt Kowalski in Gran Torino (2008)
Rarely do we actually experience real genuine sacrifice of note. The motion picture Gran Torino, produced and directed by Eastwood, however, presents a rousing story rooted in the sacrifice of one man's life for another younger man. It's a story caged in belief of character.
There are at least two deeply philosophical messages in Gran Torino for the interested analyst:
When pressed in life, detach, think, plan and stay calm--do not rouse the enemy
Set in a gangland cacophony, Kowalski's Korean War background is the Vesuvius the gangs don't expect. Toward the climax of the film when the be-friended Sue Lor (Ahney Her) is bashed and raped closed to death by the Asian gang lead by Sue's cousin, Kowalski retreats within himself. The enemy seemingly expects a quick retort.
Instead, like the Shaman warriors of Mexico, Kowalski retreats momentarily while the odds cannot be contended with. He detaches and thinks. He separates from himself for a short time. He stays calm and plans, providing the enemy eventually with a response they'd hardly expect.
The courage of sacrifice
The response is one that no one could expect. He gives his life so that young Thao (Bee Vang) can experience a normal life without the threat of the Asian gang hassling him. This sort of sacrifice--a life for a life--is something we hardly conceive. And this is exactly why Satan was defeated by Jesus. Satan in all his wisdom couldn't suppose to think like God. But, in Gran Torino, Kowalski did think like God.
Finally, the quote at top is chilling for us all. It is easy for us to absolve ourselves of responsibility or blame when we simply obey someone, rightly or wrongly, though our consciences still need reconciling. When we do things of our own volition, however, there's no going back--we live and die by our choices.
Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved.