Fixing things – Eastwood style
Gran Torino ( Clint Eastwood, 2008)
“I fix things” – this is what morose and misanthropic
Korea veteran Walt Kowalski, portrayed very convincingly by Clint Eastwood,
has to say about himself in Eastwood’s latest version of Dirty Harry
Introducing himself like that to a young woman in an awkward situation, the grumpy old man already qualifies as a Virgo-type. Furthermore he not only detests his self-indulgent and beefed up sons with their greedy, spoilt and heedless families, but also loathes his Asian neighbours with their – for him – inexplicable, seemingly fatalistic lifestyle.
Like most interesting stories “Gran Torino” is based on polarities that provide for tension and development. In Eastwood’s latest picture we can capture those astrologically in terms of the Virgo-Pisces and the Cancer-Capricorn axis. Virgo-features can be found in Walt’s dislike of chaotic and for him incomprehensible circumstances, which he observes in his increasingly violence-ridden and poor neighbourhood, but also in the first scenes of the movie, that show his disgust for the lack of modesty and decency that his family displays in so many ways.
Virgo and Capricorn here...
Walt Kowalski is a hard and strict man of conservative values and rigid
principles, in which also his strong sense of responsibility is rooted
and his hidden desire to still be of some use. His purpose in life is to
fix and restore things, things like his “Gran Torino”, the
special old car coveted by both his granddaughter and the ghetto gang.
That, just as his collection of all kinds of tools (Virgo!) stands for
Walt's ability for mending and handling problems.
His passion for fixing things could as well be seen as an attempt of indemnification because of what he did in Korea many years ago as a soldier. It is mainly this experience, which makes Walt react with biting sarcasm to the young priest's insistent efforts to bring him back to faith and confession and a more joyful life, as he had promised to Walt's dying wife. Inexperience and ignorance on the elementary questions of life and death is what Walt holds against the young man and he therefore simply refuses to take him seriously.
...Pisces and Cancer there
The other side of the displayed polarity shows not only in the Pisces-images of a neglected poor neighbourhood falling into anarchy, the disorientation of young Thao, whose passive attempts to elude the coercive pull of the ghetto gang fail due to his helplessness, or the priest's water-like pliable yet persevering insistence, who tries to soften Walt's withdrawal into loneliness with religious means. It also shows in the – vehemently unwanted – gratefulness Walt's neighbours express with invitations and gifts of food and plants (Cancer!) after he helped them against the gang. The close family around Thao and his sister is all about caring and nurturing, thus clearly being an opposing image to Walt’s Capricornian stubborn “lonerism”.
The movie’s title makes Walt’s “Gran Torino”, which he carefully restored with patience and love for detail, the central symbol for everything the old man has to offer: experience of life, a tough sense of taking charge and the ability for fixing things – his Virgo- and Capricorn-qualities. In the end Walt Kowalski nevertheless makes peace with caring Cancer and devoted Pisces in his own tough manner. And as a result fixes something.
Vesna Ivkovic studied literature and linguistics, sociology, philosophy and history and as well took a profound interest in psychology, mythology and different belief systems. Along the way she also explored various paths of body awareness such as the martial arts of Kung Fu, Dance, Yoga, Qi Gong and several other methods of body work and motion arts. In 1993 she discovered astrology as an instrument of knowledge and graduated in 2004 in Markus Jehle's and Petra Niehaus' master class at the Astrology Center Berlin. You can find out more about the author and her work on her own website www.astrosemiotics.de