A Cow, a Car, and the Shadow of the Past: Sebastián Borensztein’s Un Cuento Chino and Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino

Document Type

Conference Material

Publication Date


Department 1



The films Un cuento chino (2011), by Argentine filmmaker Sebastián Borensztein, and Gran Torino (2008), by the U.S.actor and filmmaker Clint Eastwood, are quite different in national context, style and structure, but they also show a remarkable resemblance, particularly because both plots revolve around intergenerational male relationships involving an older national character and a young Asian man. The protagonists are Roberto and Jun, in the Argentine film, and Walt and Thao, in the U.S. film. Both films tell of a modern day encounter of two cultures and the way in which the past and the present engage with each other when one is in unfamiliar territory. Paradoxically, this encounter with the “other” has the unexpected effect of jolting the older national characters towards the discovery of their hidden selves. [excerpt]


Originally presented at the Bridge Across Cultures Conference in Perugia, Italy, July 28, 2013.