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Tsotsi by Gavin Hood had won numerous awards. It is a film that touches on many social issues and makes spectators sympathize with the delinquent, incorrigible teenager.
The film takes the spectator to the poverty- stricken part of a town where the gang of youngsters led by Tsotsi is looking for their next victim. Emotionlessly, Tsotsi is looking around to choose who to follow. He is presented as a hopeless, fearless and brutal criminal. However,
The gang follows the man into the train wagon where they rob and stab him. Everything goes unnoticed to people around, or no one cared for what was going on. Tsotsi is pictured as emotionless, heartless youngster. Everything about him is dark and the scenery and the colors of the surroundings are dark as well – the sky, the place he is living in, rooms he is in. Most of the action is happening at the dusk or night. Daylight is shown only when the film is depicting a young woman who Tsotsi is following to demand she will nurse the baby. That woman is the only one who wears brighter clothes and has a room with the walls that are not colored dark. She also has glass mobiles: one is dark colored and rusted, because it is sad, and the other one is brightly colored. It sheds light on Tsotsi, which is symbolic of what is happening in his life and of the changes that are taking place in his heart.
Gradually the spectator learns about Tsotsi’s unhappy childhood, his abusive father and his mother’s death of HIV. However, through different incidents, humanity and decency has awoken in him again and the viewer also discovers his name as the symbol of his true, albeit forgotten, identity.
The film contrasts lives of the poor lower class people with the lives of the upper class society. Tsotsi ran from the bar he beat up his friend in to the part of the town well-to-do citizens are living in. In the poor sectors of the city people are lining up to get water, they live in the tin cabins and walk narrow dirty streets. Homeless children are living in the drainage pipes. The upper class people driving cars and live in the spacious secure houses. However, regardless what class people are from, they are not immune to the hardness of life and grief. Crippled man got injured when working on the mine while a woman shot by Tsotsi was simply returning home.
Many times throughout the film a spectator is left under suspense wondering how the action would develop. An example of it is the paternal side the viewer discovers in Tsotsi. The hardened youngster, who callously killed the man on the train, beat up his friend and shot the woman whose car he stole shows tender care for the baby he found in the stolen car. He bestows upon the tiny boy all the care he lacked himself as a child. This baby within days transforms Tsotsi’s life so much that he starts showing his emotions and even cries. One of the film’s leitmotifs is mercy, hope and salvation. Even such a hopeless and heartless criminal as Tsotsi can have a change of heart and the light can touch even the darkest soul.