Monday, May 24, 2010

Gran Torino (2008) - Bible study guide

At our young adult meeting of "Luther on Tap" this evening we looked at the 2008 Clint Eastwood flick Gran Torino with "eyes of faith."  The discussion was good, and our little group came up with some good insights as to how the film conveys some Christian themes.  Here is a copy of the questions I used as a discussion guide:

How are family relationships portrayed in the film?  How do Walt Kowalski's interactions with his Hmong neighbors compare to his interactions with his own family?  What are relationships like within the Hmong community?

"While Jesus was still speaking to the crowds, his mother and his brothers were standing outside, wanting to speak to him.  Someone told him, 'Look, your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.'  But to the one who had told him this, Jesus replied, ''Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?' And pointing to his disciples, he said, 'Here are my mother and brothers!  For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.'" (Matthew 12:46-50)

Jesus redefines the concept family in the New Testament by stating that genetic and familial bonds are secondary to bonds forged through participation in the life of faith ("Water is thicker than blood").  Do Walt and members of the Hmong community function more like family than their blood relatives?

The film portrays a neighborhood that is in transition.  What does it look like?  What kinds of forces influence life in this neighborhood?  Can people control them?  How might the situation in the neighborhood be an allegory for sin?

How does the relationship between the priest (Father Janovich) and Walt evolve throughout the film?  Do you think Father Janovich has an influence in Walt's life?

Gran Torino has been described as a Good Friday film.  In what ways might this description fit?  What images from the end of the movie stick out to you?

In what ways might Walt serve as a Christ-figure in the film?  In what ways does he fall short?

Explain the significance (if any) of the following: the war medals, the Gran Torino, the condition of Walt's house.

"[Walt] has saved the boy, not by using more violence, but by abolishing that small circle of violence"  []
  In what ways has Walt "saved" the boy?  Is that word appropriately used in this instance?  How so?

Phillip Martin

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