Based on a novel by Athol Fugard,
Tsotsi is shot on location, in the language
of the location, Tsotsi-taal, and stars
mainly, unknown local actors. It is
directed by Gavin Hood, whose acting
roles include Anubis in Stargate SG1. It
won the Oscar for Best Foreign film in
This is me!
Build or draw a stereotype,
could be you, could be a
fictional character, it could an
idea of Africa.
Be prepared for controversy
and some equality and
This photo can lead to a
general discussion of how
photos can influence
events. More information
can be found in the
accompanying notes or on
the site listed here. But
the story of Hector
Pieterson sets the scene.
The violence fulfils the stereotype for anywhere.
DVD: 2.57 to 5.20
But before the World Cup - all the talk was of this kind of
Tsotsi - thug
DVD: 1.10 - 1.44
Tsotsi as a typical
teenager. The name
means thug. He is a
generic as well as an
character. Tsotsi as a
product of South
As an exercise get the students to watch the film and record
when they like or dislike Tsotsi. Then get them to consider
Read Chapter Seven
and compare that with
the scene in the film. It
informs on the
backstory of Tsotsi and
give an incite into the
process of adaptation
This is Tsotsi’s choice.
In this scene, the word is
spelled out and English
is used. Why does Fela
reject it? What governs
ideology? DVD 37.15- 39.40
Double narrative: the film juxtaposes flashback
and linear narrative.
Enigma: how is Tsotsi going to resolve his dilemma.
Binary: Tsotsi is a conflicted character and he is
pursued by a policeman who has a quest.
The Helper: ultimately the helpers are his enemies,
Boston is his conscience and, in the end, it is the
father who helps him most.
Redemption: Tsotsi is redeemed if not saved by what
he does in the end.
In many African
traditions the narrative
of the body is as important
as the idea of a linear story.
Thus, Tsotsi stealing the
baby is extremely
significant in the context
of the continuity of the
narrative of the family. It
is a different hegemony.
The last scene has a clear references to
modern South Africa. All elements of its
modern state and its history are there.
The old white policeman, the new
brutal black policeman, the young,
coloured security guard. The new black
middle class, separated by the gate that
connotes the oldest division - class and
money. The innocent victims and the
ultimate victim - Tsotsi, in a white shirt.
The DVD offers three different endings.
The one they chose, death and escape. This
is a good basis for a discussion, or writing
exercise. What would they do? What do
they prefer? Which is the Hollywood
respond in different
ways. What different
there be to the film?
What have they learnt
Location: in the townships of SoWeTo
Language: Tsotsi-taal- a mix of English and local
languages - requires subtitles.
Light: film stock 35mm.
Cast: local actors.
Music: Zola local Kwaito star.
All these decisions were made by Gavin Hood to add to
the verisilimitude of the piece. All these decisions
risked the film’s success in terms of Hollywood
Equality and Diversity
Both as a book and a film, Tsotsi offers a
view of the world that challenges
preconceived ideas about South Africa as
a country and Africa as a continent. The
DVD extras include a documentary on
two boys living in a township now and their
The two pictures (Hector Pieterson and Child Soldiers are sourced from Wikipedia under conditions
related to Public Domain. There is no intention to breach copyright. All other pictures are available
If you liked this - you might like http://tinyurl.com/tsotsibook
Studying Tsotsi: Judith Gunn