The aim of this blog is to serve as a meeting point to those who study or have studied English philology and, more broadly, to all those who love literature and language.

23 Mar 2009


Gran Torino is a good film. I would even say that it is a very good film. It is full of significances and hidden meanings and I dare to predict that in the years to come Gran Torino will become a ‘cult movie’ and they will write about it more than about all the previous Eastwood´s films. People will find in it metaphors, allegories, homages and all that kind of things.

However, as a linguaphile, I want to mention one aspect of this remarcable film: the language as it is supposedly used by middle-class men in U.S.A. The main character, Walt Kowalski, teaches the Hmong kid, Thao, the way he has to talk to be accepted by men as one of them. It is one of the funniest parts of the film.

As I said before, it is a very good film. Thank you, Mr. Eastwood!

(For some reason I can´t post a clip with the aforementioned scenes of Gran Torino, but you can see them here.)


  1. It was hard for me to catch all the slang in the quick speech used by the two adults in the scene but a loose script of the dialogue has helped me understand it acceptably. This spontaneous language lesson is indeed a nice example of what is considered in many situations and places as proper male speech.

    At the beginning, the boy feels a bit confused but his final utterance, “Excuse me, sir, I need a haircut, if you ain't too busy... you Italian son-of-a-bitch prick barber”, shows his learning ability when he combines polite standard speech and friendly rude expressions.

  2. Great film. I saw it in English and I found it hard to understand at times but I enjoyed it very much.
    The film explores thorny issues like racism, tolerance, immigration, fear to the unknown. Mr. Kowalski finally learns some tolerance by getting involved with the Hmong family.
    Here I copy a couple of questions from an interesting interview to Eastwood on Grand Torino.

    -----------------------------------------------Why did you want to play Walt Kowalski?

    I liked the fact he was kind of crazy and an equal opportunity insulter, a unique character I thought I knew well. Growing up, I knew a lot of people like that. It seems in that era nobody was scared to say what they thought. This is a guy who is a Korean War veteran, whose wife just passed away at the beginning of the story. He's estranged from his two adult sons who he thinks have counted him out. His family doesn't care too much about him. They are grown up and don't want to hang out with an old guy. The grandkids don't want to hang out either, except if they might inherit something from him. Most of his friends have died. He has worked at the Ford Motor Company for 50 years and his neighborhood, which used to be all automobile people, has been taken over by immigrants. And he doesn't like the changes that he sees.
    The film also spoke a little bit about obsolescence. And it seems to resonate in what happens in the news with the American auto industry like it is today. It sort of tied in with kind of the landscape right now - the end of an era. Walt is an obsolete person. He's a little bit like Frankie Dunn from Million Dollar Baby and Sergeant Highway from Heartbreak Ridge, those kind of guys who are out of synch with society and the modern world. He doesn't know how to relate to anybody. Nothing is the same and he's kind of cynical about it too. But he ends up learning tolerance with someone belonging to a country he's never even heard of.
    How did you approach playing such a racist character?
    The trap would have been to go soft with it. If you don't play it all the way, then it becomes a Hollywood bailout. And if you're going to play this kind of guy, you've got to go all the way. You cannot be Mr. Nice Guy. It is very non-politically correct and that's good. There's just no pussyfooting around it.
    He's definitely a racist but he learns a certain amount of tolerance along the way through his forced relationships with the Hmong family who lives next door and whom he despises at the beginning. It changes when he turns around and stars helping them out, trying to save the young kid, Thao, from the gang life, and teaching him ambition, ethics, morals...

    If you are interested in the whole interview: