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There are many great movies in the world. Many of them were filmed before the year 2000. Unequivocally, the South African film Tsotsi in 2005 turned out very well and quite rightly won an Oscar in the nomination Best Foreign Language Film. An interesting and sensual story of a man who was on the way to a complete fall, but has changed, is revealed to the viewer. While delivering quite a typical and simple story, the film still manages to bring quite a lot to the scene largely owed to its South African context.

Summary and Analysis

Tsotsi tells a story about a young South African thief who lives in the wilderness on the outskirts of Johannesburg. As a child, he ran away from home, grew up on the streets, engaged in looting, and became a ruthless bandit. He became the leader of a local gang. But one day, during a spontaneous car theft, Tsotsi accidentally kidnaps a baby who was sleeping in the back seat at the time (Hood). Something changed in the ruthless criminal, and when he found the child, he did not leave her on the street and began to take care of her. This gradually transforms Tsotsi from a cruel bandit into a good man.

The protagonist stands out, who at the beginning of the film is a ruthless thug and gang leader who is not worried about his actions, and looks completely different at the end when it becomes clear that the character has repented and become a kinder and better person. What would have happened if the hero had not changed is shown by the example of one of his "brothers", whom Tsotsi is forced to kill himself. Other noteworthy characters of the film are the friend of the protagonist named Boston and neighbor Miriam, a caring mother who helps Tsotsi feed the baby (Hood). One thing the film has been widely praised for is the extraordinary transformation of Tsotsi from a manifestation of evil into a kind carer of the baby he accidentally kidnapped. While such transformations happen in other gangster films, Tsotsi stands out somewhat largely due to the emotional power of the script and South African context that addresses social issues in the country not addressed widely in other globally recognized films.

The film turned out quite atmospheric. The characters speak local African languages ​​and English can be rarely heard. African ethnic melodies, songs, and music also accompany the film. The characters do not say much, but the dialogues in the film are very well written and interesting to listen to. Visually, the film is also shot decently, viewers can see the nature of the scene "warm" tones, and the cameraman chose the right plans of slums and urban neighborhoods, periodically adding to the genre of drama in which the film was shot, notes of neon.

The film is directed by Gavin Hood who was born and raised in Johannesburg, so he is familiar with the stories of low-income families and gangs (Collar). Last but not least, the film turned out great thanks to the acting. There are no world-famous actors in the movie, but they play convincingly and naturally.

Awards received by the film:

  • Oscar for "Best Foreign Language Film of the Year";
  • British Film and Television Academy Award for Best Non-English Film;
  • Prize named after Karl Foreman as "the most promising newcomer";
  • Audience Award at the Toronto International Film Festival;
  • Grand Prix Jury "Special Distinction" and the Audience Award at the American Film Institute Festival;
  • Audience Award at the Denver International Film Festival;
  • the award for "Best British Film" and the Audience Award at the Edinburgh International Film Festival;
  • Audience Award at the San Luis International Film Festival, etc.

The only thing that can cause dissatisfaction in the audience is an open finale, which ends in the most interesting place. There is a lack of some afterword or logical completeness (Bradshaw). Although one can find two alternative endings on the Internet (tragic and relatively happy), they look even worse and which show that the director himself did not know how best to finish the film (Hood). Therefore, the decision to make the final open is probably the right one.


Gavin Hood’s Tsotsi is a sensitive and impressive film that tells the story of six days in the life of a young but ruthless leader of a street gang who shot a woman and stole her car without noticing the baby in the back seat in a panic. Accompanied by powerful energetic music, Tsotsi is a reflection of the difficult street life in modern Johannesburg. In general, the film Tsotsi is a very good dramatic film with an interesting and heartfelt story and great acting.

Works Cited

Bradshaw, Peter. "Tsotsi". The Guardian, 2006, https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2006/mar/17/2.

Collar, Cammila. "Gavin Hood Biography". Fandango, 2022, https://www.fandango.com/people/gavin-hood-301393/biography.

Hood, Gavin. Tsotsi. Ster-Kinekor, 2005.

May 12, 2022




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