Tsotsi is a clever movie capturing the fact that very little has happened to the townships after Apartheid ended in 1994. One would think that after 11 years the South African government would have managed to change more, but Tsotsi showes how hard that is. I give this movie a thumbs up. It is very symbolic and well thought-through. They have paid great attention to the details, making the movie that much better.
To a great extent we find the themes of redemption and fighting personal battles as crucial parts. The scene is set to a poor township that might have some resemblance to American gettos. Tsotsi, the main character played by Presley Chweneyagae, seems to be an emotionless thug who has forgotten his birth name. “Tsotsi” can be translated to “thug”, which is what Presley is portraying here in a very symbolic sense. The main character and his pack of criminal friends commit crimes as a way of life, usually plotting their next lawlessness at the bar in their township.
In an attempt to steal a car, Tsotsi shoots a woman in her stomach and kidnaps a baby by accident. After driving the car he stole for several miles, he discovers the baby in the backseat. This moment might be the first where we see a caring version of him, though many would say that taking care of the baby after kidnapping it is in its place. The movie has a very short time period seeing that we only get to follow Tsotsi for three days.
Structure wise it is very traditional with its chronological order including some flashbacks to Tsotsi’s childhood. This type of structure is very easy to watch, making it better for the audience to pay attention to the plot and to details rather than what is happening and when. Towards the end we find a more caring father figure to be found in Tsotsi, he has grown to love the baby giving him his own name, David. As a child this was Tsotsi’s name but he changed it, in my opinion, because of a mask he decided to wear to conceal himself. The movie was probably given the name for several reasons, Tsotsi was extensive in the movie, therefore calling the movie the name of the main character is obvious. Tsotsi is also the name of his mask, a mask that comes off at the end.
Tsotsi is a movie that teaches us that making mistakes is human but we need to right our wrongs. When the baby is delivered back to his birth parents, Tsotsi raises his arms to avoid getting shot by the policemen around him almost like he is praising God. Christianity is a major religion in Africa as a part of imperialism. The pair of policemen we see frequently is portrayed by a black male and a white male, something that might symbolize the differences between black and white in South Africa. If one pay enough attention there will always be a detail to discuss further.
All in all, the movie Tsotsi has a lot to teach and show the audience. If we venture deep enough we can find hidden gems to teach us even more. This is a movie I would recommend, especially to someone looking to learn more about social and personal issues, as well as a new English-speaking country. A great movie with great actors and plot!