i had never seen a clint eastwood film, rusty had seen several…for some reason, we have both been wanting to see this one. through the previews, we were the only ones in the theater but a few–literally just a handful–trickled in as the movie began. it was almost as if we had rented the theater…or were at some special screening. almost…
rusty said it was typical eastwood–tough guy who gets it done, which is precisely what happens. and i might add that this typical eastwood embodies what is originally viewed as the antithesis of a hero…yet becomes just that by the close. whose to say if that is who he has always been or the situations gone through and experienced in the film cause him to become just that…or a little of both.
in one of the first interactions walt kowalski has with father janovich, the priest poses the question to eastwood’s character:
how much do you know about life? it seems like you know more about death.
and maybe he does–after living 78 years, after fighting in korea, after working in the car industry in michigan, after seeing his neighborhood transformed by the moving in of others unlike himself, after sitting through his wife’s funeral. but as the young priest uttered this challenge to a man who has endured so much, i thought about how living is determined by one’s definition of the word. sure, it would appear that walt is a bitter old man–bitter about seeing such demise in his lifetime, about things not being as they were, and discontentment with things not being as he thinks they should–but there’s more, there’s more that is undercover.
walt is forced to deal with this question throughout the film…
he is forced to deal with his prejudices about others–although i am not saying they all come out differently.
he is forced to face who he really is.
he is forced to make the decision if he will stay this way or change.
he is forced to decide if he will let others in or keep them out.
he is forced to decide what is most important, and who is most important.
he is forced to decide what to do in life and death situations…and act accordingly.
he is forced to make hard decisions, to determine people’s fate, and live with it.
and at the end, walt responds (although not verbally) to the statement made by the priest at his wife’s funeral that life is salvation…
is it in the saving of one’s life, the giving up of one’s own, or a little bit of both?