AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Gran Torino
Director: Clint Eastwood (Dir)
Release Date:   9 Jan 2009
Premiere Information:   New York and Los Angeles opening: 12 Dec 2008; openings in selected cities: 19 Dec 2008
Production Date:   15 Jul 2008--5 Sep 2008 in Detroit, MI
Duration (in mins):   116
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Cast:   Clint Eastwood (Walt Kowalski)  
    Christopher Carley (Father Janovich)  
    Bee Vang (Thao)  
    Ahney Her (Sue)  
    Brian Haley (Mitch Kowalski)  
    Geraldine Hughes (Karen Kowalski)  
    Dreama Walker (Ashley Kowalski)  
    Brian Howe (Steve Kowalski)  
    John Carroll Lynch (Barber Martin)  
    William Hill (Tim Kennedy)  
    Brooke Chia Thao (Vu)  
    Chee Thao (Grandma)  
    Choua Kue (Youa)  
    Scott Reeves (Trey)  
    Xia Soua Chang (Kor Khue)  
    Sonny Vue (Smokie)  
    Doua Moua (Spider)  
    Greg Trzaskoma (Bartender)  
    John Johns (Al)  
    Davis Gloff (Darrell)  
    Tom Mahard (Mel)  
    Cory Hardrict (Duke)  
    Nana Gbewonyo (Monk)  
    Arthur Cartwright (Prez)  
    Austin Douglas Smith (Daniel Kowalski)  
    Conor Liam Callaghan (David Kowalski)  
    Michael Kurowski (Josh Kowalski)  
    Julia Ho (Dr. Chang)  
    Maykao K. Lytongpao (Gee)  
    Carlos Guadarrama (Head Latino)  
    Andrew Tamez-Hull (Latino gangbanger)  
    Rámon Camacho (Latino gangbanger)  
    Antonio Mireles (Latino gangbanger)  
    Ia Vue Yang (Hmong flower woman)  
    Zuoa Kue (Hmong flower woman)  
    Elvis Thao (Hmong gangbanger)  
    Jerry Lee (Hmong gangbanger)  
    Lee Mong Vang (Hmong gangbanger)  
    Tru Hang (Hmong grandfather)  
    Alice Lor (Hmong granddaughter)  
    Tong Pao Kue (Hmong husband)  
    Douacha Ly (Hmong man)  
    Parng D. Yarng (Hmong neighbor)  
    Nelly Yang Sao Yia (Hmong wife)  
    Martin Bufalini (Lawyer)  
    My-Ishia Cason-Brown (Muslim receptionist)  
    Clint Ward (Officer)  
    Stephen Kue (Officer Chang)  
    Rochelle Winter (Waitress)  
    Claudia Rodgers (White woman neighbor)  
    Vincent Bonasso (Tailor)  

Summary: At the funeral Mass of his beloved wife Dorothy, retired auto worker Walt Kowalski looks on with disgust as his grown sons and their families enter the pews. Later, at his home, Walt distances himself from his family, with whom he has a strained relationship, preferring to putter and bring chairs from the basement. He also dismisses young Father Janovich, who tells him that Dorothy had asked him to try to convince Walt to go to Confession. When Walt's granddaughter, Ashley wistfully asks about his pristine 1972 Ford Gran Torino convertible, saying that she could use a car for college, Walt merely walks away. As the days pass, Walt spends his time mowing the lawn and tending to his spotless home. Sitting on the front porch with his dog "Daisy," Walt expresses disdain for the unkempt houses occupied by neighboring Hmong immigrants, and exchanges angry glances with the elderly Hmong grandmother next door. One afternoon, Thao, her shy grandson, is harassed by a local gang, but rescued by his cousin Spider’s gang. Later, when Spider tries to goad Thao into joining them, Thao's more assertive sister, Sue, tells him to leave Thao alone. Thao gives in, though, and reluctantly agrees to Spider’s initiation rite of stealing Walt's Gran Torino. That evening, while Walt is at a tavern enjoying racist jokes with friends, Janovich asks to speak with him again about going to Confession. Walt answers his question by relating the horrors of killing many men in the Korean War, when he earned a Silver Star. During the night, Walt awakens to noise in his garage, prompting him to grab his rifle and fire it blindly several times. Because it is dark, he does not see that the intruder is Thao, who runs away unhurt. The next day, when Spider drives over to Thao's house, he pressures him to try to steal the car again, but Sue, her mother and Grandma angrily tussle with him. The commotion summons Walt from his house, carrying his rifle and ordering them away. After Spider leaves, Thao and Sue try to thank Walt, but he also orders them off his lawn. For several days after the incident, Walt's Hmong neighbors bring him gifts of food and flowers, which he unsuccessfully tries to refuse. Sue tells Walt that he is now a hero in the neighborhood, but he gruffly dismisses her. Janovich, whom Walt has grudgingly come to like, also tries to talk to him again, concerned that he needs to expiate his guilt over his actions in Korea. One day, as Walt is driving his pickup truck, he encounters some black youths threatening Sue and her white boyfriend. Walt intimidates the boys and drives Sue home, while her hapless boyfriend runs away. As the smart and fearless Sue talks with Walt, he finds that he likes her. Some time later, Walt is impressed when he sees Thao run across the street to help an elderly white woman who has dropped her grocery bags. That afternoon, Walt's son Mitch and daughter-in-law Karen bring him a cake to celebrate his birthday, but spoil the occasion by showing him brochures for a retirement community and suggesting that he sell his house. Just after Walt sends the couple away, Sue comes to his door to invite him to a party at her house. Despite his initial reluctance, Walt goes with her and is startled by the shaman Kor Khue, who tells him that he is not at peace. When Walt begins to cough up blood, he rushes to the bathroom and reflects that he received more insight "from these gooks" than his own family. Walt soon begins to enjoy himself, happily eating all of the homemade Hmong dishes and finding the politeness of the Hmong teenagers refreshing. He also notices that one, a pretty girl named Yuoa, has a crush on Thao. The next day, Thao, Sue and their mother approach Walt to tell him that Thao was the person who tried to steal his car. They want Thao to make amends, and although Walt refuses, Thao shows up at his house the next morning. At first Walt dismisses Thao with busy work, but soon has him repairing other nearby houses, and within several days is given the neighbors’ lists of repairs for Thao to complete. On his final day, Thao is rebuffed by Walt, who has just experienced a severe bout of coughing. Walt then goes to a hospital for tests and learns that he is gravely ill. The next day, Thao asks Walt if he knows how to fix a faucet, and Walt eagerly helps him. Now Walt begins to take pleasure in helping Thao's family with household repairs and in teaching Thao what to do. He and Thao become close, and Walt tutors his young friend in more American and manly behavior, such as swearing. When Thao reveals that he would like to attend college but needs to earn money first, Walt introduces him to a friend who owns a construction company. After Thao is hired, Walt takes him to a hardware store to buy him a tool belt and some tools, and assures Thao that he will be fine. A short time later, when Thao is walking home from the bustop after work, some of the gang harass him in an alley, stealing his tools and burning him with a cigarette. Although Thao tells Walt it is nothing, Walt secretly finds one of the boys who hurt Thao and beats him, threatening more if he and his friends do not leave Thao alone. Some time later, at a summer barbeque, Walt plays host to Sue, Thao and Youa, finding it easy to enjoy their company, and loans Thao his Gran Torino to drive Youa to the movies. Later that night, as Walt is watching television, Spider's car drives by and spray's Thao's house with bullets. Walt immediately grabs his rifle and goes next store, frantically asking if everyone is all right. They say that Sue is at a girlfriend's house, but as the hours pass, they become increasingly worried. After hearing a car stop, then race off, they find Sue in shock, badly beaten and raped. As the family cries, Walt rushes home, punches the walls, then starts to cry. When Janovich comes to see him, he tells Walt that the police have left after investigating but no one is saying anything. Walt then says aloud that Sue and Thao will never have peace as long as the gang is there. After telling Janovich to call him "Walt," the men share a beer and discuss what can be done, with Walt concluding that Thao must have a chance at a future. The next morning, an angry Thao goes to Walt and asks him what they should do. Despite Thao's near hysteria, Walt calms him by saying that they need a plan and tells him to return at four o’clock. After Thao leaves, Walt mows his lawn, buys a new suit, has a haircut then goes to Janovich to ask him to hear his confession. Although the priest wonders aloud if Walt has done something terrible, Walt confesses only to a few small transgressions before receiving absolution. After Confession, the worried Janovich says that he plans to go to Walt's house every day to make sure that he does not retaliate against Spider. At four, when Thao returns, Walt takes him to the basement and gives him his Silver Star, but says that the boy does not want to know what it was like to kill a man. Walt then goes upstairs, tricking Thao into remaining in the basement, while Walt locks him inside. Despite Thao's screams, Walt leaves, then takes Daisy next door to Grandma. Walt later calls Sue to tell her where to find his house keys to unlock Thao. Meanwhile, outside Spider's house, Janovich and two police officers are waiting for Walt because Janovich is certain that Walt plans a retaliation. After some time, though, the police leave and forcibly remove Janovich. When it is dark, as Spider and other gang members are talking on the front porch, Walt appears, then takes out a cigarette as many neighbors look on. As he quietly recites the "Hail Mary," Walt makes a move for his pocket, prompting Spider and the others to spray him with bullets. When the police arrive, they discover that Walt was unarmed and merely holding his cigarette lighter. Because his murder took place within the sight of so many witnesses, Spider and the others are arrested for murder as Sue and Thao arrive, weeping for Walt. On the day of Walt's funeral, his family is surprised to see Thao, Sue and their mother attend the Mass in traditional Hmong dress. As Janovich eulogizes Walt, his barber, Martin and other friends smile as the priest fondly reminisces about him. Some time later, at the reading of Walt's will, it is revealed that he gave his house to the church "because that is what Dorothy would have wanted." His only other bequest is for his friend Thao, to whom he has left his prized Gran Torino. That afternoon, as Thao drives the car along the highway, he smiles at the generosity of his friend and his prospects for the future. 

Production Company: Village Roadshow Pictures  
  Double Nickel  
  The Malpaso Company  
Distribution Company: Warner Bros. Pictures (A TimeWarner Company)
Director: Clint Eastwood (Dir)
  Donald Murphy (1st asst dir)
  Pete Dress (2d asst dir)
  Michael Judd (2d 2d asst dir)
Producer: Clint Eastwood (Prod)
  Robert Lorenz (Prod)
  Bill Gerber (Prod)
  Jenette Kahn (Exec prod)
  Adam Richman (Exec prod)
  Tim Moore (Exec prod)
  Bruce Berman (Exec prod)
Writer: Nick Schenk (Scr)
  Dave Johannson (Story)
  Nick Schenk (Story)
Photography: Tom Stern (Dir of photog)
  Stephen S. Campanelli (Cam/Steadicam op)
  Bill Coe ("A" cam 1st asst)
  Robert A. McMahan ("A" cam 2d asst)
  Trevor Carroll-Coe (Cam loader)
  Tony Rivetti, Jr. (Still photog)
  Ross Dunkerley (Chief lighting tech)
  John Lacy (Asst chief lighting tech)
  Buzzy Burwell (Rigging gaffer)
  Brian Minzlaff (Rigging best boy)
  Charles Saldaña (Key grip)
  Douglas L. Wall (Best boy grip)
  Greg Brooks (Dolly grip)
  Chapman/Leonard Studio Equipment (Camera cranes & dollies by)
  Sequoia Illumination (Lighting equip by)
  Kodak Motion Picture Products ([Film stock])
Art Direction: James J. Murakami (Prod des)
  John Warnke (Art dir)
  Mark David Katchur (Art dept coord)
Film Editor: Joel Cox (Ed)
  Gary D. Roach (Ed)
  Blu Murray (Asst film ed)
  AVID film compositor (Ed on the)
Set Decoration: Gary Fettis (Set dec)
  Rick Young (Prop master)
  Michael Semon (Asst prop master)
  David Fencl (Armorer)
  Michael A. Muscarella (Const coord)
  Loren Nickloff (Gen foreman)
  Robert Silcock (Const foreman)
  Enrico Paronelli (Paint supv)
  Chuck Eskridge Jr. (Standby painter)
  Richard Boris (Greens coord)
  Edward J. Protiva (Leadperson)
  Missy Parker (Set dresser)
  Kai Blomberg (Set dresser)
  Tommy Callinicos (Set dresser)
  Steve-O Ladish (Set dresser)
  J. R. Vasquez (Set dresser)
  James Daniel Fernandez (On set dresser)
Costumes: Deborah Hopper (Cost des)
  Cheryl Perkins Scarano (Cost supv)
  Ann Culotta (Set cost)
  Danny Dirks (Set cost)
  Diana Edgmon (Set cost)
  Kristyn Mahle (Set cost)
  Maria Salloum (Set cost)
  Maria Smith-Byrd (Ager/Dyer)
Music: Kyle Eastwood (Mus)
  Michael Stevens (Mus)
  Lennie Niehaus (Orch and cond)
  Chris McGeary (Mus ed)
  Bobby Fernandez (Mus scoring mixer)
Sound: Alan Robert Murray (Supv sd ed)
  Bub Asman (Co-supv sd ed)
  Walt Martin (Sd mixer)
  Flash Deros (Boom op)
  Gail Carroll-Coe (Cable person)
  David Arnold (Supv dial ed)
  Lucy Coldsnow-Smith (Dial ed)
  Katy Wood (Dial ed)
  Beth Sterner (Dial ed)
  Juno J. Ellis (ADR supv)
  Lisa J. Levine (ADR ed)
  Rupert Nadeau (ADR asst ed)
  Thomas J. O'Connell (ADR mixer)
  Jason King (Sd eff ed)
  Kevin R. W. Murray (Sd eff ed)
  Bill Cawley (Sd eff ed)
  Michael Dressel (Supv Foley ed)
  Jonathan Klein (Foley ed)
  Shawn Sykora (Foley ed)
  Robin Harlan (Foley artist)
  Sarah Monat (Foley artist)
  Randy Singer (Foley mixer)
  John Reitz (Re-rec mixer)
  Gregg Rudloff (Re-rec mixer)
  Ryan Murphy (Mix tech)
Special Effects: Steven Riley (Spec eff supv)
  Dominic V. Ruiz (Spec eff foreman)
  David A. Poole (Spec eff tech)
  Ryan Riley (Spec eff tech)
  Michael V. De Pietro (Spec eff tech)
  Hank Atterbury (Spec eff tech)
  Liz Radley (Video & computer graphics supv)
  Pacific Title (Spec visual eff/Titles)
  Art Studio (Spec visual eff)
  Mark Freund (Visual eff supv)
  Darin Millett (Visual eff prod)
  John Campuzano (Visual eff coord)
  Michael Degtjarewsky (Lead compositor)
  Lee Nelson (3D)
Make Up: Tania McComas (Makeup dept head)
  Jay Wejebe (Makeup artist)
  Dawn Baker (Makeup artist)
  Debbie Darakoljian (Makeup artist)
  Carol A. O'Connell (Hair dept head)
  Jan Alexander (Hairstylist)
  Carol Branston (Hairstylist)
  Kevin Edwards (Hairstylist)
Production Misc: Ellen Chenoweth (Casting)
  Geoffrey Miclat (Casting assoc)
  Amelia Rasche (Casting assoc)
  Janet Pond (Local casting/Extras casting)
  Kathy Mooney (Local casting)
  Tim Moore (Unit prod mgr)
  Mable Lawson McCrary (Scr supv)
  Deana Lou (Asst to Mr. Eastwood)
  Jessica Meier (Asst to Mr. Lorenz)
  Carrie Gillogly (Asst to Mr. Gerber)
  Holly Hagy (Prod coord)
  Karen E. Shaw (L.A. prod coord)
  Cindy M. Ichikawa (Asst prod coord)
  Chuck Webb (Set staff asst)
  Matt Miller (Set staff asst)
  Stephanie Tull (Set staff asst)
  Mindy Silberman (Prod secy)
  Jason S. Gondek (Prod accountant)
  Joel Tokarsky (1st asst prod accountant)
  Stephanie N. Whallon (Asst accountant)
  Landon Trawny (Asst accountant)
  Renee Trawny (Asst accountant)
  Patrick O. Mignano (Loc mgr)
  Eddie J. Merino (Key asst loc mgr)
  Tarrance Alfred (Asst loc mgr )
  Alex Fields (Asst loc mgr)
  Dyane Garvey (Hmong cultural adv)
  Cedric Lee (Hmong cultural adv)
  Larry L. Stelling (Transportation coord)
  Alana Stelling-Weathers (Transportation capt)
  Dom Rodriguez (Transportation capt)
  Joseph Bane (Transportation capt)
  Nick Acquaviva (Picture car capt)
  Tony Deale (Staff asst)
  Dimitrios Rogakis (Staff asst)
  C. William Simmons (Staff asst)
  Chris M. Young (Staff asst)
  David S. Cox (Staff asst)
  Lauren A. Muscarella (Staff asst)
  Hailey Murray (Staff asst)
  Jenna Levine (Staff asst)
  Tony's Food Service (Caterer)
  Nancy James (Craft service)
  Brian K. Stuart (Craft service)
  Bryce Carroll-Coe (Craft service)
  Mike O'Brien (Set medic)
  Erin O'Brien (Set medic)
  Michael Woodard (Set medic)
  Sue Chipperton (Animal wrangler)
  S3 Entertainment Group (Michegan prod services provided by)
Color Personnel: Tony Dustin (Digital film colorist)
  Jill Bogdanowicz (Digital film colorist)
  Bob Peishel (Digital intermediate prod)
  Mark Sahagun (Digital intermediate ed)
  Technicolor Digital Intermediates (Digital intermediates by)
MPAA Rating: R
Country: United States
Language: English

Music:
Songs: "Gran Torino," written by Clint Eastwood, Jamie Cullum, Kyle Eastwood and Michael Stevens, performed by Jamie Cullum and Don Runner, Jamie Cullum appears courtesy of Terrified Records and Universal Music Operations Limited; "Psalm XVIII," written by Benedetto Marcello, arranged by E. Power Biggs; "Esto es guerra," written by Neiver A. Alvarez and Jesus A. Perez-Alvarez, performed by Convoy Qbanito, courtesy of LMS Records; "We Don't F*Around," written and performed by Budd-D, L. B. & Buddah, courtesy of Kingpen Records; "The Bartender" and "Maybe So," written by Renzo Mantovani, performed by Renzo Mantovani and Doug Webb; "Appreciation," written and performed by L. P., Buddah, Cuzz & L.B., courtesy of Kingpen Records; "Hmoob Tuag Nthi," written by Elvis Thao, Cheng Yang and Joseph Yang, performed by Rare, courtesy of Shaolin Entertainment Records; "All My Hmong Mutha F*Kaz," written and performed by Buddah, courtesy of Kingpen Records.
Composer: Neiver A. Alvarez
  E. Power Biggs
  Buddah
  Budd-D
  Jamie Cullum
  Cuzz
  Clint Eastwood
  Kyle Eastwood
  L. B.
  Renzo Mantovani
  Benedetto Marcello
  Jesus A. Perez-Alvarez
  Michael Stevens
  Elvis Thao
  Cheng Yang
  Joseph Yang
Source Text:

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Matten Productions GmbH & Co. KG. 12/3/2009 dd/mm/yyyy PA1620936

PCA NO: 44954
Physical Properties: Sd: Dolby Digital; dts; SDDS Sony Dynamic Digital Sound in selected theatres
  col: Technicolor
  Lenses/Prints: prints by Technicolor
  Lenses/Prints: filmed with Panavision cameras and lenses

 
Genre: Drama
 
Subjects (Major): Family relationships
  Hmong
  Immigrants
  Retirement
  Self-sacrifice
 
Subjects (Minor): Barbers and barbershops
  Cancer
  Catholic Church
  Construction workers
  Detroit (MI)
  Dogs
  Ford automobiles
  Gangs
  Grandparents
  Hardware stores
  Inheritance
  Korean War, 1950-1953
  Priests
  Rape
  Silver Star

Note: The film opens after title cards featuring the logos of the production and distribution companies. All cast and crew credits appear at the end of the film. As noted in the onscreen credits, Gran Torino was shot entirely on location in and around Detroit, MI, including Royal Oak, Warren and Grosse Point, with most of the action taking place in the Highland Park area.
       According to its pressbook, Gran Torino was the first major motion picture to feature Hmong characters. The pressbook also noted that director and star Clint Eastwood initially had wanted to cast professional actors of Hmong descent, people who emigrated to the U.S. from Laos and other parts of South Eastern Asia, including Myanmar, Thailand and China. However, because so few were registered with SAG, casting director Ellen Chenoweth and her associates looked for non-professional actors by contacting members of various Hmong communities throughout the U.S. At the time of production, Bee Vang, who portrays "Thao" in the film, was a sixteen-year-old student from St. Paul, MN.
       The film was written by first-time screenwriter Nick Schenk, based on a story he co-conceived with Dave Johannson. The setting for Schenk and Johannson's original story was Minnesota, where Schenk was born and raised. As noted in the pressbook, Schenk himself had been a factory worker at one time and had worked alongside many Hmong families. Several contemporary sources noted that the film's setting was moved from Minnesota to Detroit, MI to enable the production to take advantage of favorable tax incentives offered by the state of Michiugan. The pressbook also noted that because the character of "Walt Kowalski" was a retired auto worker, it seemed natural to have the story take place in Detroit.
       As many critics noted in their reviews of the film, a Ford Gran Torino was the model of car driven by "Harry 'Dirty Harry' Callahan," the iconic character created by Eastwood in the 1971 film Dirty Harry (see above). While the plot of Gran Torino is unrelated to any of the Dirty Harry films, many critics likened the widowed, racist Kowalski to an older version of the hardened, racial epithet-spouting, lone wolf character that was Dirty Harry.
       Soon after it was announced in Hollywood trade papers that Eastwood would be making a new film entitled Gran Torino , numerous movie fan-oriented websites erroneously reported that the project was actually to be Dirty Harry 6 , purportedly a fifth sequel to Dirty Harry . The rumors were given more credence after reports spread that representatives from Village Roadshow Pictures were trying to purchase a 1972 Gran Torino automobile. The car featured in the film was purchased after a lengthy search in Vernal, UT, according to the pressbook.
       Eastwood, whose previous acting role had been in Million Dollar Baby (2004), which he also directed, made his motion picture acting debut in the 1955 film Francis Joins the Navy (see above). In several interviews in 2008, the then seventy-eight-year-old Eastwood announced that Gran Torino would be his last film as an actor, although he would continue to direct. However, in Nov 2011, Hollywood trade papers announced that Eastwood would act again in the film Trouble with the Curve , The film, which was a 2012 release, was directed by Robert Lorenz, one of the producers of Gran Torino and many other Eastwood films.
       Although Eastwood had been one of the biggest box office stars in the world in the 1970s and 1980s, Gran Torino became his top-grossing box office film, earning $148,085,755 by the end of its theatrical run in North America, where it received mostly positive reviews. In addition to being selected as one of AFI's ten Movies of the Year, Gran Torino received a Golden Globe for Best Original Song ("Gran Torino"), written by Clint Eastwood, Jamie Cullum, Kyle Eastwood and Michael Stevens. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Daily Variety   19 Mar 2008   p. 1, 12.
Daily Variety   17 Nov 2008.   
Daily Variety   4 Dec 2008   p. 1, 42.
Daily Variety   5 Dec 2008   p. 1, 42.
Daily Variety   8 Dec 2008   p. 7.
Daily Variety   5 Jan 2009   p. A2.
Hollywood Reporter   23 Oct 2008   p. 1, 29.
Hollywood Reporter   5 Dec 2008   p. 31.
Hollywood Reporter   8 Dec 2008   pp. 12-13.
Los Angeles Times   9 Dec 2008   Calendar, p. 1, 4.
Los Angeles Times   12 Dec 2008   Calendar, p. 1.
Los Angeles Times   24 Dec 2008   Section E, p. 1, 8.
Los Angeles Times   12 Jan 2009.   
New York Times   12 Dec 2008.   
New York Times   14 Dec 2008.   
New Yorker   22 Dec 2008.   
Variety   8-14 Dec 2008.   
Variety   22 Dec 2008   p. 6, 34.
Village Voice   10-16 Dec 2008   p. 58.

Display Movie Summary
The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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