Tsotsi

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Level 2 English: Visual Text essay for Tsotsi

Describe important visual or aural symbol(s) in a visual text you have studied and analyse how the symbol(s) helped develop ideas in the text. In the film Tsotsi directed by Gavin Hood there were many important symbols. The film is about a young man, Tsotsi (a nickname which means thug) who lives a life of crime in Johannesburg, South Africa. The film is set in post-apartheid South Africa and shows a few days which change the life of the main character. The film helps us to understand the struggles that blacks face today years after their mistreatment under apartheid. Symbols such as dice, light and journeys are used in this film to develop the ideas of luck and chance, hope and the journey towards redemption. A visual symbol of dice is the first that develops ideas in the film. In the opening scenes there is a slow-motion close up shot of a hand shaking two dice and throwing them down on a table. The setting is Tsotsi’s shack, it is smoky and a knife is wedged into the wooden table top. The dice are part of a gambling game and symbolise Tsotsi’s life, which is a gamble in itself. Everything can and does change in a symbolic “roll of the dice”. With every action Tsotsi takes to survive – from mugging an innocent man on a train or stealing a car – he gambles and does not know the outcome. He risks getting killed in these criminal acts, and as we see through the film – a fellow gangster of his, Boston, does meet death when he makes a fatal mistake. The idea of luck and chance is developed further when Tsotsi steals a car from a middle class family. The driver tries to stop him, and he shoots her. As he drives off he realises there is a baby in the back. As fate would have it, in the attempt to simply steal a car, he has ‘accidentally’ become a kidnapper and has maimed a woman for life. However, the chance encounter with the baby becomes the trigger to Tsotsi’s journey towards redemption. In caring...
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