Discussion Board 7. “Tsotsi” | Homework Writings Help

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(1). Tsotsi features a number of characters that – in one way or another – represent the mother figure. Discuss the ways in which motherhood is represented in the film. Consider such maternal characters as Tsotsi’s own mother (shown in a flashback and possibly dying from HIV); Miriam (who nurses the stolen baby); Pumla (the stolen baby’s real mother). Can it be argued that Tsotsi himself develop certain maternal qualities as the film progresses? Discuss all other ‘real’ and ‘symbolic’ mothers, fathers and children in the film. What might the film be saying about families and South Africa as a metaphorical “family-nation”?

(2). Compare Tsotsi to other gangster / slum drama film, such as City of God. Would you consider Tsotsi to be a “producer’s” film, i.e. the type of film that makes a purely entertaining spectacle of poverty, corruption, and crime? Would you say that Tsotsi represents a truly independent national cinematic voice or would you say that this voice has been compromised by commercial aims?

(3). Discuss the film’s editing techniques (abundant close-ups and shot – couter-shot sequences), its lighting, diegetic and non-diegetic sound, as well as its extensive use of flashbacks. Do you find the narrative techniques used are appropriate and effective for this film?

(4). Tsotsi‘s opening scene is a game involving dice. We see dice several times later in the film as well. What do you think is the importance of dice / game as a broader metaphor / allegory? What other important allegories can you point out in the film?

and write two short peer reviews about those:

1:

“1. Mothers in Tsotsi are important. They nurture babies to allow them to grow and they are respected for this. The mom of the baby is very angry and worried for her baby. It was taken from her which leaves the baby without the care of its mother. The lady that cares for the baby because Tsotsi makes her also cares for the child even though it isn’t her own. She feeds and baths it to make sure the baby remains healthy. You can tell she is concerned Tsotsi can’t manage to take care of this baby in a proper way like a mother could. Tsotsi is now like a mother to the child. He tried to leave it in the car, but he even felt guilty and like he needed to now find a way to care for this child. He clearly has no idea how to care for a baby, but he starts to pick up on when the baby is hungry and what it needs as the film goes on. He cares for the well being of this baby.

2. Like City of God, Tsotsi tries to show the lives of these people as accurately as possible. A difference is that Tsotsi is more staged. This could be a real occurrence, but this film was made to appeal to an audience and to gain sympathy and understanding for Tsotsi and his life. There are flashbacks of his childhood showing some traumatizing scenes that are mixed with his life as a thug who does bad things to survive. Even though he is a thug they show a character development in Tsotsi and you sympathize with him as he tries to take care of this child and you see the caring side of him.

3. Flashbacks provide a lot of information on Tsotsi’s past and what has brought him to lead this life as a thug. They also show that even though what he does isn’t great he still has compassion and feels for other people. Having diegetic sound makes the film feel more real and natural, but the non diegetic sound also offers more into the culture with music. All of this is very effective for this film and helps develop Tsotsi’s character as a regular person who isn’t as terrible as you would originally believe, and it sets up a realistic setting.

4. The dice appearing multiple times in the film for me represents chance. It is a metaphor for the lives of these people. Everything is a gamble and is left to chance, they never know how something will turn out. Another thing could be the use of color and objects to represent fluctuating feelings. While he was with the one lady who was feeding the baby he asked her questions about some of the art she had created. She tells him that they were made different because of the mood or how she felt while she was creating these objects.”

2.

  1. Tsotsi himself is one symbolic example of fatherhood in the film. Although he is the “bad guy,” his instincts to care for the child kicked in when he realized the baby was in the car. Instead of leaving him in the car, he took him home to care for and continued to develop parental qualities throughout the film. Another example of motherhood is the woman who Tsotsi went to for food, Miriam. She was the mother of her own child and was also willing to take care of the other child by feeding and bathing him. Even though we never get to see her act as a mom, the mother of the stolen baby, Pumla, is another example of motherhood. Finally, Tsotsi’s mother is an example of how motherhood is shown. Even in her dying moments, she wanted to spend time with her child and care for him. The fathers in the film seem very different from one another, however. Pumla’s husband seemed to be a very loving dad and was very adamant about getting his baby back. Tsotsi’s father was the opposite, as he seemed very violent and abusive. I think the film is trying to show that South Africa has a very family-oriented community for the most part.
  2. Tsotsi is similar to City of God in the sense that they both show the poverty and hardships suffered by those in foreign countries. I wouldn’t consider Tsotsi a “producer’s” film, because I don’t think it trying to glorify or make poverty entertaining. I think the main intent of the movie is to inform people on how townships are and how life was for those in the post-apartheid period of South Africa.
  3. The lighting was dark for the majority of the film. Many of the crimes that Tsotsi and his gang committed occurred during the night, so there was not much light. This contributed to the film significantly because it represented how dark the lives are for people living in the townships. There was also use of non-diegetic sound through the Kwaito music. Also, I think the close-up shots added to the film’s intensity, especially while Tsotsi are robbing the baby’s father. As Tsotsi is holding the gun to the father’s head, there are close-ups of both of their faces and it makes the scene more suspenseful, in my opinion. The use of flashbacks was also helpful for the film’s narrative because it showed a little of the background of Tsotsi’s life and gave some insight to the audience about why Tsotsi is living life in the way he is.
  4. I think the dice represent the way of life for the citizens living in townships and opportunity. For example, metaphorically, the dice of each person’s life could have landed in any way, but how they land is the life they are going to have and it is out of their control, and however the metaphorical dice land sets up the opportunities that will be available in their life. Also, I believe the dice game has a deeper meaning to show how poor the education system is in the townships. Each time the dice landed, someone always added them wrong. This suggests that the citizens in townships are not getting a proper education and furthers the awareness of how the living situation is in those areas of some foreign countries.”

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