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The film Tsotsi, directed by Gavin Hood, represents how a person’s childhood and experiences effect the person’s mental advancement in his battle for redemption. The narrative centers on Tsotsi, whose name when equated, literally suggests “punk”- a nickname he has actually collected through his atrocity as gang leader. The opening scene of the movie establishes a strong sense of direction for the story – a glimpse of a person rolling dice is shown, drawing attention to the archetype of the dice representing opportunity and having no control over what will take place.
This reveals the context that Tsotsi’s life is more definitely influenced by outdoors forces, instead of his own free will. Following this scene, Tsotsi is presented on screen wearing a leather jacket– the same one he is seen using for the whole of the film with the exception of the ending, validating that what audiences see during that time is just an outside, firmly hiding his real identity that was formed by his childhood and experiences.
Gaining awareness about the significant outdoors forces that affect the advancement of Tsotsi’s character in the past and today are vital in understanding the factor behind his seemingly cold-hearted exterior. Tsotsi’s character is considerably established by his interactions with his loved ones. His youth without his moms and dads has a considerable result on him, enabling him to be taught neither proper morals, nor how to act with others. After their brutal murder of a man, Boston preaches Tsotsi, including him saying, “Jesus, Tsotsi.
A dog? What about a canine” (Hood, 2005). The didactic tirade sets off a stream of smothered feelings in Tsotsi, who batters Boston. After this incident, Tsotsi runs from his buddies, and more importantly, himself. The crazy expression revealed in the close up shot of his face not just reveals his id that caused the occurrence, however likewise plainly reveals his frustration in himself acting the exact same method towards Boston, as his daddy needed to their dog when Tsotsi was younger. “Get out I stated! Out damn it! Out you fucking pet dog” (Hood, 2005).
This metaphorical representation of Boston as a dog reveals Tsotsi’s lack morality throughout his childhood. Hood uses meaningful pathetic fallacy to portray the view that viewers should have on Tsotsi. The long shot emphasizes his insignificant effect over the controlling outside forces, and lighting illuminates the sky, while Tsotsi is still left in darkness; symbolizing his dark exterior. In addition to being strong influences that have caused Tsotsi to become who he is, his friends also aid him in his path to atonement. Tsotsi looks for redemption against such poverty-induced inhumanity in a place that seems to provide no possibility of doing so. However, such substitute, namely “decency” makes an appearance in an instructive manner, digging through to Tsotsi’s superego, as Sigmund Freud would suggest. Boston or “Teacher Boy,” who, true to his nickname, is the only gang member still possessing conscience, castigates Tsotsi for his wrongdoings, “Decency Tsotsi – Decency – Do you know the word” (Hood, 2005).
Viewers see glimpses of decency as described by Boston – making a living in a way that makes you respected – in Tsotsi as the film progresses, along with his character. This is seen when Tsotsi pays a final visit to Boston and leaves his gun with him – a symbolism of him finally revealing his true identity with no armor. Additionally, Tsotsi shoots Butcher, a character with whom he had many similarities with at the start of the narrative, revealing that he no longer shares those similarities with him. Therefore, Hoods use of outside forces further develops Tsotsi’s character. Furthermore, Tsotsi steals a baby in his attempt to steal a car from Pumla. At this point, the critical question stands: Can a small baby redeem a cold-hearted thug? Clearly, the baby plays a major role in Tsotsi’s development as a dynamic character in his path to redemption.
Tsotsi becomes occupied with caring for the baby as his pathway out of his odious life. To implement a psychological association to Tsotsi’s repressed humanity, Hood uses sentimental flashbacks. Tsotsi’s involvement with gangs is explained by Tsotsi’s harsh father who restricts him from seeing his ill mother. “You…stay away from your mother” (Hood, 2005). The baby serves as a representation of what Tsotsi has lost; revealed when he visits the baby’s room, and realizes what he has stripped from the baby. As the film progresses, Tsotsi develops a strong admiration towards Miriam, a female figure that he associates with his own mother, and therefore tells Miriam that the baby’s name is ‘David,’ the name he himself was given by his own mother. This is also revealed when Boston says, “Everyone has a name.
A real name from him mother” (Hood, 2005). Miriam reveals the Oedipal Complex at work in the film as Tsotsi revives memories of his mother’s affections. The ‘decency,’ that Boston continuously mentions, is finally revealed to be seen in Tsotsi when he finally hands the baby over to its parents. However, his reluctance to let the baby go symbolizes his fear in forgetting his past experiences and starting over, clearly emphasized by the depressing music, meant to tug at the viewer’s heart-strings, in contrast to the upbeat music played throughout the rest of the film. Here at the end of the film, Tsotsi’s surrendering to the police confirms that he is no longer seen as a ruthless killer, but as a man with decency. In doing so, Hood offers readers an association with Tsotsi, along with a clear insight of his struggle to redeem himself in a cruel world with little guidance from his childhood and past experiences.
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