All three potential endings are shown and discussed by the director on the DVD. Whatever sense audiences make of Tsotsi, it will to some extent depend on how they approach the film. There are brief sequences dealing with the investigation of the abduction of the baby by the police and Boston’s recuperation at the shabeen, but most of the time Tsotsi himself drives the narrative forward. When South Africa became an independent nation it was the Afrikaans speaking descendants of the Dutch settlers who were the political majority in the white community and through the creation of apartheid or ‘separate development’, dominated the majority black population. This was made into a British/South African film in 1951, starring the African-American actors Canada Lee and Sidney Poitier and then a South African/US film in 1995 starring James Earl Jones. But because of the history of colonial exploitation, South Africa’s population is even more diverse than this history might suggest. (In the township, the camera also tracks past the shebeen with a jeering Fela and his gang). Can you list all the ‘real’ and ‘symbolic’ mothers, fathers and children in the film? (He reads the paper, he can follow the game without having to concentrate.) The detailed notes here give away important plot details.). The Dutch and the British brought first slaves and then indentured labour (a form of economic slavery) to South Africa from what is now Indonesia and India. Either way he is angry and impatient and the tapping of the weapon is a disturbing omen. The development of the story to include a gang leader whose actions are curtailed or re-directed because of a woman (a woman of his own age and/or a mother figure) is also a familiar aspect of the gangster film. Writer-director Gavin Hood even says on the DVD that it is a ‘simple’ narrative. Tsotsi is in some ways a character study more than a plot-driven action entertainment feature. Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. The presence of Boston, ‘the teacher’, in the gang is not properly explained in the film, but he performs an important role in driving Tsotsi into action. Dramas are in some way ‘serious’. Did Tsotsi’s mother die of HIV/AIDS? In the version that was shown in cinemas, Tsotsi is holding is arms raised with the three policemen all aiming their guns at him. The individual letters were probably typed or printed, but they are of different sizes and weights and they look battered and worn. But it is also possible that they may be reacting against what they see as the ‘otherness’ – the strangeness – of non-English language cinema. 2. drama,,1723947,00.html. We know that a crime is about to take place and it is quickly established by the camera following the swift looks that Tsotsi gives to possible ‘marks’. Tsotsi was featured in an article for American Cinematographer magazine (see Bosley 2006) so we have some good ideas about what was intended and how the effects were achieved. 8. There has always been a small-scale white South African film industry, often making local comedies and not usually exported. Despite his size we are given the impression Tsotsi is the leader, the hero, and quite broad-minded. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: You are commenting using your account. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. What difference would its inclusion make? Also the confrontations between characters are also theatrical in terms of dialogue exchange and posed/tableau positioning of actors. When the gang leave Tsotsi’s shack (which is unusual in being raised above the others), the camera style changes. (see for the history of Soweto’s development as a home for Johannesburg’s black population.). What does ‘drama’ mean in these circumstances? How would you identify these universal elements and how would you use them in a film made in the UK or anywhere else that you know? Second, it offers a different kind of meaning that we could describe as metaphorical or symbolic. (Spoilers ahead! ( Log Out /  One of the important points about genre as a concept is that the term is used differently by the film industry, audiences, critics and scholars and that each of these groups will themselves use different terms to describe a particular category. These are emphasised by whip pans or flashes as Tsotsi turns his attention to someone else. New confrontations are inevitable in his attempts to make up for things. Change ), You are commenting using your Google account. Outside South Africa, the best known of these have been written by white South African liberals, sympathetic to the residents. In 1953 he founded the South African Liberal Party – a multi-racial party that was later banned by the apartheid regime. The gang appear, once in the city, as poor and downtrodden and possibly worthy of our sympathy, but their attack is made to feel even worse by the humanity of the man they select as a victim. Miriam is a difficult role to play since women in South African society (and also in South African cinema) are at best marginalised. 12. The authenticity of the locations, the beautiful wide-screen camera and above all the intensity of the actor Chweneyagae contributed to making Tsotsi the audience favourite at the film festivals of Edinburgh and Toronto. 6. township film This is the sentimental, romantic ending with the implication that he finds Miriam. • a short story time – the events will take place over a few days or a few weeks; Both literature and theatre have higher cultural status than cinema amongst certain groups in society and a film which has literary roots automatically draws on this status. He soon realises he is not the right person to look after the little baby and forces a young mother from the neighbourhood to bring up the child. Although the rhythm and the overall style of the music is drawn from US and British black music styles (which in their origin are mostly West African), the vocal style of kwaito utilises the uniquely melodic sound of Southern Africa. The most striking feature of the film is what we might call the ‘colour palette’ with which the cinematographer is working. 6. Now we recognise that compared to their victim and many others in the station, they are actually quite small in stature, especially Tsotsi. In either case, the dice game offers the narrative a thematic. Change ), You are commenting using your Google account. The opening to Tsotsi (roughly 5 mins up until the gang leave the train and their victim) performs various tasks which serve to get the narrative started. This may not be for everyone; its not exactly art house, but there’s enough dexterity and layers in the movie to scare away the Hollywood-type people. There were few civic amenities in the townships and social life was based on the beer hall or shabeen. He has a pleasant exchange with the young Asian woman on the stall and when the gang surround him on the train, he at first looks down on them with an almost avuncular gaze. Tsotsi at this point is simply ‘apart’ from the others, looking out of the window. Athol Fugard (2006) Tsotsi, Canongate Press (re-issue of the original novel) Boston is similarly typed as the educated onlooker, possibly slightly older. This is the room of a young man. This practice was supported with some funding by the apartheid government for a separate black cinema culture. But the overall effect is certainly theatrical – it is rather like the lighting effect in a stage play, especially when it is coupled with the use of small key lamps which direct light onto the faces of the actors and create a kind of ‘halo’ effect. Alan Paton (1903-1988) was a Christian who became a teacher and then principal of a Reform School where he instigated progressive policies. Geoffrey Macnab (2006) Review of Tsotsi, Sight and Sound, April, In the township we weren’t particularly aware of the four gang members as being distinctive, partly because we didn’t see them in a crowd. Tsotsi and his gang are perhaps in their early 20s. In many cases they will be justified in this view. What kinds of star qualities do you think he has and which aspects of his performance make his portrayal of Tsotsi so compelling? This may be because they find reading subtitles tiring or because they feel they are missing something else while they are reading. The narrative of the youth picture will have several distinctive features: • some sense of rebellion and dismissal of the ‘adult’ world; Alternatively, it could refer to the philosophical position of accepting the consequences of someone else rolling the dice – having to live with whatever the result might be. As most of the sound is diegetic, natural or on screen, there isn’t much to comment on, however dialogue in the first scene gives the impression all but one are uneducated as they struggle to add up simple numbers, 4 and 5. The industry itself is wary of putting any potential audience off by referring to popular genre categories such as science fiction, romance etc. What have you learnt about the technologies from the process of constructing this product? In the past, filmmaking in South Africa has been split into three separate activities. South Africa is one of the most violent countries in the world. The craps game has a double purpose in the narrative. Does your attitude towards him change over the course of the narrative? Nothing is said in the sequence, but we know precisely what is going on, simply through the use of camera and editing. 23 #1: La Madre (Spain-France-Romania 2016), Tsotsi (South Africa/UK 2005) – A narrative analysis. What do these interactions suggest about contemporary South Africa? Tsotsi is from a poorer background and this is shown with where he lives, living in the slums of the city in little shacks and shanty towns. Black South Africans could only own land in the homelands. It wouldn’t be difficult to stage Tsotsi as a play. On the whole, the film industry uses very broad terms such as comedy, thriller or drama. Often by comparing and contrasting similar films from different systems we notice much more about them than if we looked at only one system. The gang aboard the train in the opening sequence. As well as Miriam, Morris in his wheelchair is also in this sequence. Take a look around and grab the RSS feed to stay updated. Non-diegetic sound, like the music, creates tension in one scene but also affiliates the gang with thug life in Africa.

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