WEEK 3 AFTER THEMESAnswer questions 1 and 2 using film language
WEEK 3 AFTER THEMES
Exploring films outside ofHollywood• This is paper 2 andyou exam will be on• Tuesday 25th June• The film you arestudying is• Tsotsi made in 2005and directed by• Gavin Hood1
Aims of the exam paperTo have detailedknowledge of thefilm and itsthemesTo haveimprovedtextualanalysisskills andapply themto the textTo have anunderstandingof issues ofaudience andinstitution inrespect of thefilmTo have increasedinsight into thecontext and issuesof equality anddiversity the filmrepresents 2
3What do you know aboutTsotsi?Tsotsi is an extraordinary film by director Gavin Hood thatmanages to map some of the huge contrasts in modern SouthAfrica - its affluence and grinding poverty, its haves and have-nots, its energy and optimism alongside thedisease, addiction and crime that blights so many lives.Hood’s film is an updated adaptation of a 1960s novellaby eminent South African playwright Athol Fugard, inwhich the protagonist’s first-person account gives thereader insights into the Tsotsi’s origins and motivations.At a time when so many in South Africa live in fear ofrandom-seeming violence inflicted by so called ‘feral’young people, this film is a compelling attempt to delvebeneath the statistics of modern-day crime – to put anunsentimental but human face on actions thatotherwise might seem utterly inexplicable andmonstrous.Tsotsi as a film encourages empathy and develops your understanding ofcontemporary global issues – the disparities between wealth and poverty and theimplications for society when so many are robbed of their childhoods. It is a filmabout chance, about opportunity and choice.THEMES?MESSAGES?BASED ON REALITY?
What do you know aboutSouth Africa?4• Over half the population lives below the poverty line – many on just a$1 a day.• A quarter of the population is unemployed.• More than a fifth (21%) of the adult population is infected withHIV/Aids and thousands of children grow up orphaned due to thepremature deaths of their parents.• Despite a rapid house-building programme over the last decade it stillhas many of its people living in shantytowns and squatter camps inshelters constructed from scavenged scrap.• Violent crime, though falling, still costs the lives of over 20,000 peoplea year - and armed-robbery, car-jacking, rape and aggravated burglaryare the stuff of everyday anecdote.Some or all of these are the painful legacies of 50years of racism, discrimination and neglect and alsoof the miseries in many other parts of Africa - thatmake South Africa an incredible melting-pot ofnationalities and cultures.
5How does the film Tsotsi representSouth Africa?What impression of the country do you receive and what clues are there in it about the lives of ordinarypeople living there?The evidence of povertyand affluence – considerthe logo on Pumla Dube’sshopping bag that Tsotsisteals to carry the baby offin – ‘Expect More’.The evidence of pollutionThe evidence that SouthAfrica’s capital Johannesburgand its townships arelively, energetic, bustlingplaces.The prominence of crime and violenceand the response of the police tocrime and criminals – however young.The evidence of disease –particularly HIV/Aids (clue: lookout for posters and also Tsotsi’sflashback memories of hismother)Evidence of mixedcommunities or highlysegregated communities(apart from the one whitepoliceman – why is thereso little evidence of whitepeople in this film –crossing Tsotsi’s path?)The evidence of strongcultural/artistic forces atwork in the townships(clue: consider thelanguage, music and even thecolourful fabrics and hangingglass and metal mobiles thatMiriam produces in her hometohelp make ends meet.)
Representations and StereotypesEvery time wewatch a film, weare not seeingreality, butsomeonesversion of it.Representationtherefore refers tothe construction of‘realityRepresentation involvesanalysing how identities are re-presented or rather constructedto communicate a certainmeaningLook at these images andusing your textual analysisskills determine what orwho is beingrepresented, consider howthe representation isconstructed.6
Representations and StereotypesA stereotype is a commonly held imageof a person or group, based on an oversimplification of some observed orimagined trait of behaviour orappearance7mise-en-scenecameraworksoundframingeditingperformance
Representations and Stereotypes8Character Analysis: It’s important thatyou are able to analyse therepresentation of key characters is thefilm. For revision purposes let’s stickwith Tsotsi.In stories it is often suggested that something significant happens that changesthings for the hero forever – initiating subsequent developments. The mostobvious such ‘agent’ in Tsotsi’s story is the baby but perhaps there are someother more crucial moments in his story that were just as pivotal: as life-changing
9How far does Tsotsi change overthe course of the film?Describe Tsotsiat the beginningof the filmDescribe Tsotsiat the end ofthe filmDescribe someevents that mayhave caused himto change
• Consider the list of events below anddecide which you feel might havebeen a major cause of later change.Can you suggest some other eventsin the film and why they aresignificant for the development ofthe story.• 1. Totsi stealing the baby.• 2. The killing of the old man.• 3. Boston’s self-disgust and his needling of Tsotsileading to the fight.• 4. The sight of Boston’s swollen, infected face.• 5. The conversation with Morris – the crippledbeggar, underneath the flyover.• 6. The first rejection of Aap.• 7. The second rejection of Aap – when they arein the hijacked car chopshop.• 8. The dream of his mother.• 9. Miriam and her home in the township. Hertale of her husband’s death teaches Tsotsisomething about his own crimes.• 10. The memory of his father’s brutalitytriggered when visiting Miriam.• 11. The burglary of the baby’s home and inparticular time spent in the baby’s• bedroom.• 12. Butcher’s discovery of the gun andthreatening of John Dube – the father.10How far does Tsotsi change overthe course of the film?
11RepresentationsSOCIAL CLASSChoose a keysequence andexplore how oneof the following isrepresented in itRemember representation is construction
12Themes and issuesDescribe what thefilm says about atheme or issueHow is the film ofissue explored in akey sequence?
13Settings and locations in TsotsiName a setting inthe filmDescribe what itlooks likeWhat does thesetting suggest toaudiences?How doesone of thesettingsrelate tothe themeor issueyoudiscussed?
• Were you happy withthe ending of the film?• What is the message atthe end?• What do you think willhappen to Tsotsi?• How would you haveended the film?14Tsotsi – the closing scene
Micro Features and their effectTechnique Example EffectCinematography, costume and music Warm golden colours used to showshanty town (aided by brightly colouredAfrican clothing worn, upbeat Kwaitomusic played)Shows that although it is poor it is also avibrant, colourful place that thecharacters call ‘home’. (However at nightit becomes more sinister.)Camera shots:High Angle and Wide Shot and/orCrane shotsOften used to show the shantytownwhere Tsotsi lives – rows of makeshifthouses and when policemen find Tsotsi’sabandons the car on highway.Emphasises the size of the slum. It issprawling – we see the magnitude ofpoverty. His story is just one of many.It also makes it hard for the police tofind criminals – they become invisiblein the masses.Camera shots:Film uses a lot ofWide Shots held for a long time(alternated with Close Ups to showTsotsi’s face)Tsotsi walking on tracks,Tsotsi and gang melting into thecrowd in the railway station,The pipes in the flashbackTsotsi under bridge with Morris, etcTwo things:1. Seems stage like – Tsotsi is acharacter in morality play – hehas to go through certainepisodes and learn and grow.2. Shows how the characters livesare intertwined with their setting– eg Tsotsi’s life would bedifferent if he did not grow uppoor/orphaned by AIDS/ inSoweto’s township15
Micro Features and their effectTechnique Example EffectMise-en-scene Tsotsi’s corrugated iron hut is stackedwith stolen audio-visual equipmentSetting reveals character’s history –life of crime but also practice intownships of ‘making do’- Illegalconnection to mains power when heputs on music.Contrast in lighting Warm, earthy colours used fortownship v. cool, sterile lighting usedto show train station, hospitalEmphasises the difference in the ‘twoworlds’ in South Africa. We see thegap between rich and poor moreclearly. The new black middle class(John and Pumla) have access toelectricity, clean surroundings,modern amenities. Poor must makedo with dirt floors, no running water.Contrast in Mise-en-scene Water pump, use of wooden boxes asmakeshift furniture, houses madefrom scrap timber in the shanty town.This contrasts with a high-techsecurity system, high iron gates,spacious modern home with luxuriousfurnishings.Same as above16
Micro Features and their effectTechnique Example EffectMise-en-scene Colourful pastel mural of Africanplains with animals in baby’s roomShows the ‘myth’ of South Africa thatforeigners come to see - thesavannah, the wildlife. The realitythat people want to ignore is thepoverty.Music / Soundtrack Booming Kwaito music (modernSouth African music with hip-hopbeat, strong bass line and spokenlyrics) used when Tsotsi and his gangwalk through township and in Soekie’sbar where the boys fight.Creates mood – suggests their toughnatures. Music brings to mind USgangster rap – we think youth gangs,crime, feeling angry / estranged fromsociety, violence.Sound effects Use of ‘snake rattle’ sound effectwhen Tsotsi is following Morris andMiriamCreates sense of fear and suspense.Highlights the sense of J’burg asdangerous/crime-ridden. Audiencefears for the ‘victim’ – suggestspredator is stalking his prey.17
Creative response to Tsotsi• In the exam the lastquestion will allow you toshow your knowledgeand understanding of theways in which Tsotsicommunicates all theissues and ideas that youhave explored anddiscussed in class, in acreative way. You may beasked to:– Write a review for aspecific target audience– Produce a blog post• Whatever task you aregiven, it is important thatyou include aconsideration ofperformance, issues andthemes, people andplaces and combine thesewith your personalresponse to the film.18