MOVIES: Gran Torino (spoiler alert)

I saw Gran Torino the other night. It involves a gang that is terrorizing a family. The only way that the lead (Clint Eastwood) can solve the situation involves his own death. The police had been unable to arrest these gang members, who had committed rape and attempted murder, due to a lack of witnesses. Clint Eastwood ends up going to the gang’s house, pretending to pull out a gun (when he is really pulling out a lighter), and the gang shoots Clint Eastwood. It happens in front of the entire neighborhood, so the gang members go to jail. Is this an act of heroism or suicide?

more importantly Confession, and by extension, Catholicism, played a huge part in the theme of the movie.

That was a good movie. I especially liked the young priest in the movie.

Did you all get the same sense of anti-Catholicism that I did? I got the same feeling with Million Dollar Baby. In Gran Torino, it seemed like the priests’ methods were not going to work, so Clint had to find a different way to solve the problem (perhaps suicide). In Million Dollar Baby, it depicted a priest who would cuss at Clint Eastwood for not writing to his estranged daughter (when in fact, he had been writing to her the whole time). Then at the end, he goes against the priest’s advice and assists the boxer in suicide, which they portray kind of as the right decision.

I saw this movie on the day it opened. Loved it! Sadly, I read that Clint Eastwood is hinting that this might be his last film. I hope not.

While Eastwood’s character showed some disrespect for the priest and a bit of disregard for some Church teachings, I did not regard it as attacking the Church in any way.

Million Dollar Baby was supposed to be his last film too, so who knows?

He went to confession, so it showed an evolution in his thinking. He went from being hostile to the church, to believe in its power. Also, his relationship with the priest strengthens, and you could tell that before he would have sought revenge, but I think the influence of the young priest changed his mind and he decided to do something heroic.

Reminded me of “Seven Pounds”.

I did not see the movie, but from what you describe…

his act was gravely immoral. The end does not justify the means.
He intended to cause several men to think that they were in imminent danger of death, so that they would use deadly force in self-defense (which is moral), but would nevertheless be convicted of murder. In other words, he intended that they be convicted of murder for merely defending themselves. The end of putting criminals guilty of serious crimes in jail does not justify the means of constructing a situation whereby they would go to jail for a different crime, one that they were not guilty of.

This is morally similar to the situation in Righteous Kill, where a man guilty of a serious crime is freed on a technicality, and so two cops frame him for a different crime, one that he did not commit.

Both situations are a type of bearing false witness against one’s neighbor in a serious matter, and so would be a grave offense against the commandments.

Ah, I sense the need for subtlety. He reached into his pocket for his lighter, and they thought he was reaching for a gun, so 5 or 6 of them started to pump him full of lead. The question is, was their reaction justified, was it proportional. He already had a cigarette in his mouth, so they could have just as easily assumed he was getting his lighter. Plus, even if he was reaching for a gun, were their lives imminently at risk?

I see it as martyrdom, because he sacrificed his life. He did not “make” them shoot him, they chose to.

True, but you have to admit: he certainly intended for them to shoot him.

I did not see the movie.

If his intention was for them to kill an innocent man, i.e. a man (himself) whom he knew to be innocent yet intended to be killed, then it was certainly gravely immoral.

It is a different question as to whether they were guilty of murder. Did he previously threaten them with a gun and threaten to kill them? Setting aside the movie, and taking this as a hypothetical, if you manipulate a situation to make someone think that their life is in imminent danger, so that they kill an innocent person, you are guilty of murder and (depending on the situation) they might not be.

I’m referring to guilt under the moral law, not necessarily under human law.

When I saw the previews for Gran Torino I thought of Million $ Baby also… was / is Clint Eastwood Catholic? He seems to have Catholic “issues” … ?

Hello I used the search engine but couldn’t find a thread on this so I’ll be making one.

Who on the form has seen the new Clint Eastwood movie “Grand Torino”? I found it to be a masterpiece that only Eastwood could make so great. Hopefully it is not a spoiler but I also loved that it also had a focus of a Catholic Priest who interacts with Eastwood’s character.

Please discuss for this has become probably one of my all time favorite movies.

Flavius, I absolutely agree – this is one of the best films I’ve seen in a long time. The characters have dimension, the themes are complex and most of all, it has some real emotional stakes. I’ve not always been a fan of Clint Eastwood’s directing (sorry fans of Mystic River) but this is an exceptional effort on his part, both as actor and director.

Also, the Catholic priest was not thrown under the bus on this one. He isn’t perfect but in the end his intentions are not corrupt, not riddle with inner criticism of Catholicism. He’s a young, ambitious priest who learns something about morality from an “apparently” amoral guy.

I also thought the choice of Hmong people as the “Asians” was a strong choice. Eastwood is a Korean vet and they were allies of the US in the misguided and ultimately unsuccessful secret war in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. It’s not an obvious part of the film or even important to the main story…but it shows a thoughtfulness about what “American” means.


I would suggest seeing the movie before you make those kind of statements. You just don’t have the credibility to speak on the situations in the movie unless you see it.

Eastwood’s character indeed knew he was going to die by going there, and probably did “trick” the gang members into shooting him, purposefully doing it in a way that was garuanteed to get them all arrested INSTEAD of him killing them, which is what he originally would have done (before his talk with the priest).

You may say that is immoral, but I tend to look at it as heroic, because of the element that hasn’t been discussed. His neighbor, who he served as a mentor to, had his house shot up and his sister raped. The boy planned to retaliate by killing the gang members. Eastwood’s character, by making sure the gang was arrested, not only may have saved the boy’s life, but also saved him from the guilt and shame of having to kill (which was a major theme throughout the movie).

Eastwood’s character, who knew he was dying anyway, did what he did because it was the only way to resolve the situation without the boy being killed, without the gangmembers being killed, and without the boy being guilty of any great sins.

So even if Eastwood’s characters actions could be construed as sinful, i highly doubt that he would be culpable of mortal sin given the real situation.

Okay, we are talking about a movie character. But what if we are talking about a real life situation/ I have yet to see the movie, it is being released in NZ in the next week or so, but, let’s apply it to real life.

I think this is where we can apply the principle of double effect. His intention was not to die, even knowing that what he was intending to do could result in his death.

According to the principle of double effect, it is morally permissible to perform an act that has both a good effect and a bad effect if all of the following conditions are met: [LIST]
*]The act to be done must be good in itself or at least indifferent
*]The good effect must not be obtained by means of the bad effect
*]The bad effect must not be intended for itself, but only permitted
I will post again after seeing the movie.

This brings up an interesting question on Jesus’ Passion.

Jesus foreknew He would be killed, and He intended to die, so, would His dying be immoral or was it moral for Him to die?

Just an interesting question I wanted to ask. :slight_smile:

The act to be done must be good in itself or at least indifferent
The good effect must not be obtained by means of the bad effect
The bad effect must not be intended for itself, but only permitted

Well on the first bullet Walter (Eastwood’s character) came toward the local gangsters house and at that moment was mearly calling them out on the crimes they comitted (raping someone who was a friend) Now they did know from past experience that Walter was usually armed and willing to threaten a gun at them. During the scene their were perhaps a good ten different guns pointed at him and Walter would casually point his finger like a gun and take a few shots at the men in the windows.

For the second point I don’t believe his death should be considered a bad effect as we believe death not to be bad in itself but mearly a gateway toward our final judgement of worthiness to the Lord. (If I have that wrong I appoligize)

For the final part he did not come armed and Eastwood’s character had a cigarette in his mouth. He’d ask them for a light and aftewards claim he had his own lighter, Walter would reach toward the inside of his coat and as he pulled out his lighter they would fire at him and thus kill him. Now I’ll admit it was his intention to decieve them all into firing at him because he pulled out his lighter from his coat in the same manner that he pulled out a pistol earlier in the movie. However besides making some passing finger shots at the men in the windows he never made a statement that he was armed or showed any weapon on him.

In the end the effect was that all the local gangsters would be jailed for Walter’s murder instead of at best one or two being arrested for the previous rape and drive by or at worst no one being arrested and allowing them to freely terrorize the people.

I would think thanks to these reasons that double effect would occur, because honestly after seeing that movie I could only be 100 percent certain that he’d be up in heaven for his redemption that occured on Earth.

Wow this movie is probably the only time I’ll defend a characters actions so in depth.

This occured to me, too.

I don’t think that knowingly entering a situation where you realize death is overwhelmingly likely is the same as suicide.

By that kind of logic, every Martyr would have actually committed suicide.

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