Digital Participation: Tsotsi Film Review
Last night I finally got my hands on a copy of the South African film Tsotsi, directed by Gavin Hood. I think Professor Green-Simms mentioned this film in class during our discussion of the makeup of South Africa, and I was excited because I had wanted to see it for a while but never got around to it. Well, I finally did, and I was not disappointed.
In sum, the movie centers on Tsotsi, a poor man fromthe slums of Johannesburg, who earns his living stealing from the rich along with his gang of thieves. However, things get crazy when he decides to shoot a rich woman from the suburbs, stealing her car… and her baby in the back seat.
I won’t spoil the ending just in case anyone wants to watch it, but there were many interesting parts I’d like to share that related to our class discussions. First of all, the cinematography was amazing, and Hood showed South Africa in all kinds of lights. From the brown, muskiness of the slums to the blue and white of the shopping malls, the film showed South Africa as it is, a land where the rich and poor live side to side. One shot in particular showed Tsotsi standing on top of a hill of brown grass overlooking the city’s towering skyscrapers during sunset, which was a pretty cool contrast. This chaotic mix of Johannesburg reminded me of Welcome to Our Hillbrow.
Additionally, like in the film Yesterday, the country’s struggle with AIDS has a presence in the film. Signs reading “We are all affected by HIV and AIDS” repeatedly appearedin scenes of the city. At one point, the movie showed a flashback of Tsotsi’s father forbidding him from touching his dying mother, and I feel that AIDS and people’s misunderstanding of it was a subtle message within Tsotsi.
Anyways, the plot was quite interesting and heartfelt. Not only does it show the dark undersides of the poor in Johannesburg but also the human side and background of Tsotsi the thief. The film shows his reasons behind his actions, the strength of the friendships he forms, the beauty of motherhood, and ultimately gives a voice to a man who in the scope of international media would have simply been a desperate South African who stole a car and a baby. Anyone with an interest in cinema should definitely check out this movie (it won an Academy Award in 2006 for Best Foreign Language Film!).