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In order to have a successful film there needs to be at least one lovable character in who the audience can love and relate to but in the film Tsotsi it is more complicated. Directed by Gavin Hood, the film has many different characters with different personalities, some loveable and some not so loveable. Through a wide range of visual and verbal techniques Hood develops these characters. When the audience is first introduced to Tsotsi in the exposition to when he returns baby David to his real parents in the denouement, Tsotsi changes from an un-lovable character filled with crime at first to a likeable renewed character.
In the exposition of Tsotsi Hood uses many different techniques to help develop the character of Tsotsi. The audience learns that Tsotsi lives in a township in Soweto, marginalized by society. He is uneducated and relies on his gang members to kill and steal from rich people in Johannesburg. This development was shown through the use of techniques of cinematography and dialogue. For example a high angled wide shot was used after a close up of Tsotsi pulling the finger to show the setting of Soweto, a township in South Africa. The shot shows the full extent of Soweto as the township goes on into the distance and big power lines going through the township but not connecting. This wide shot was important as it set the scene for the audience showing the full extent of Soweto and the vast amount of people living like Tsotsi, without electricity and marginalized by society. At the same time we hear loud Kwaito music as well as shouting and loud noises of the people living in Soweto. The loud noises from the people show that the township is very loud and busy with people going on about their day. Through these techniques, the audience is made aware of the situation many people are living in the townships of South Africa. The townships do not have the access to the same resources many people take for granted like a family, electricity, education and as a result a successful job or benefit. The people of these townships have to survive based on their own knowledge of stealing and motivation to survive. Tsotsi has been brought up to be a killer and a thief in order to survive.
In the directors note “In Tsotsi’s eyes, we should, in the end, see ourselves.” What this means is that Hood wants up to get up and personal to someone we would not normally have anything to do with. Also at first Tsosti may not seem very friendly or lovable by being up close and knowing the history of Tsotsi’s past we can somehow relate and understand why Tsotsi acts this was and thus becomes a more friendly and lovable person in our eyes, even though he still makes wrong decisions.
It is clear, therefore, that Gavin Hood’s use of the range of production techniques have been used mainly to develop Tsotsi as a character on the margins of society, one we fear. The use of dialogue, cinematography and mise-en-scene character actions help portray him as a character who has a hard time deciding what is right and what is wrong. Without these techniques, the audience would not be as aware of the issues facing many young men in these types of townships all over South Africa and the struggle they face to make their way in the world. To be successful, a visual or oral text must have lovable characters.
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