I always felt that all Clint Eastwood films are connected somehow. His stories are about redemption. Million dollar baby and Grand Torino portrait these message. I find many parallels on both films; characters, plots, theme. There are, of course, different aspects to be considered but there is always a floating connection; prejudice.
In Grand Torino the main character; Eastwood, has great prejudice against Koreans. Beside he thinks things must be done properly, his way, the only way. This idea makes him a bitter man. Beside his recently deceased wife is the part of his life he loves the most. His car in the movie is the embodiment of that memory. He does all he can to keep that memory. After all it is all he got left. Frankie Dum, in Million Dollar Baby, on the other hand, hates training women. The prejudice this come does not come from hate but from love. He already has lost a daughter. But he sees his daughter in Maggie( Hillary Swank). Boxing is a dangerous sport and he can´t put her in a situation of danger.
The forced contact on both films changes him completely. He´s exposed to the Korean culture, and enjoys their neighbor´s company very much. He finds outs that many of his conceptions were false. In Million Dollar Baby, he sees his strength in Maggie; always training to get a better boxer. He admires her dedication. Then he decides to train her.
Through love he does not feel the emptiness on his soul anymore. He´s some sort of stability in Thao´s life- Grand Torino- bringing stability and peace to his own existence. For the first time since his wife passed away, he finds people he can connect with.
Maybe the message that both movies send is that in order to find some sort of happiness we need to surround ourselves with people who cares for us. Unless before tragedy strikes. On both films tragedy unfolds in a different way. In Grand Torino is like a slow escalation. Shock, however, comes in the end.
Redemption comes from making the right decision in times of adversity. Frankie put Maggie out of her misery in Million Dollar Baby. She earns her legacy. In Grand Torino, Walt Kowalski- Eastwood- sacrifices himself to protect Thao´s life. This way, he cleans up the streets. So Thao can lead the life he always wanted. Both characters exits the films better men that when they entered. I have to confess that every time I see an Eastwood film, I leave the theater a better men that when I entered.
¡Thanks a lot Clint!
Sergio Calle Llorens