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Cultural and Religious Reversals in Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino

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Abstract Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino is one of the most fascinating religious films of recent decades. Its portrayal of confession is highly ambiguous and multi-layered, as it both mocks confession and recognizes the enduring importance of its moral core. Equally complex is the film’s imitation and reversal of the Christ story. The religious dimension is interwoven with a complex portrayal and evaluation of multicultural America that does not shy away from unveiling elements of moral ugliness in American history and the American spirit, even as it provides a redemptive image of American potential. The film reflects on the shallowness of a modern culture devoid of tradition and higher meaning without succumbing to an idealization of pre-modern culture. The film is also Eastwood’s deepest and most effective criticism of the relentless logic of violence and so reverses a common conception of Eastwood’s world-view.

Affiliations: 1: University of Notre Dame, URL:


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