Thursday, September 30, 2010

Quotes from South African movie, Tsotsi

I am in love with the South African movie, Tsotsi. People might say the real truth is that I am in love with Terry Pheto rather. Doesn't matter. Tsotsi did win an Oscar, and that tells what kind of movie it is. I fell in love the first time I watched it and all of the 27 times I've seen it. I know the movie so well, I watched a version with Spanish subtitles and was able to explain to my friend everything that the characters were saying. I'd know everything they were saying when I've been taking notes. So, here are some soundbites.

One of the things I love most about South Africa is that they have 11 official languages. Many South Africans I have met routinely speak more than 5 languages. I wish, I wish, I wish. There was a line in the South African crime-drama, Jerusalema: "This is the only country that we have to take shit in 11 languages". Classic. Tsotsi used many languages and it was very interesting to see when different languages were used. Tsotsi won the Oscar for best foreign language film; the movie is not set in English. The directors wanted to set the movie in the local languages to make it authentic. Ghanaian and Nigerian movie producers, take note. Like my Mzansi massive would say "local is lekker".

S' good, s'good - I have become a big fan of Kenneth Nkosi and it started with him (as Aap) using this line in Tsotsi. You know you want to use it from now.

"Decency, do u know that word?" "decency means making a fucking decent living, sonny" - That's your new definition of decency.

Oh, fuck! - The police folks didn't want to deal with the slums. If you are a policeman who has to search for a tsotsi (gangster) in a slum/ghetto, what else would you say? Keeping it real son.

Stop telling me what you can't do - This is for you, Africa. A simple line from a man whose baby is missing to a policeman who has to find his baby. A simple line in a movie many Africans haven't seen holds so much truth for the continent. It's in your hands o!

Stand up and walk? and you, who are you? Jesus Christ? - A cripple to a gangster who doubts his disability and has asked him to get up and walk. Too funny.

Tsotsi never went to school, doesn't understand ...decency
"You know about that, Fela? Decency?"
Can't even spell the word, can you?"
"Decency, let' see. D.E.C.E.N.C.Y. Decency, how's that?
"What's it mean?"
"Decency means making a fucking decent living, sonny"
"Respect, man. for yourself"
"You want respect? man. You'll get respect ... The day you give up the bottle and get a driver's license. Drivers I need, drinkers I don't. So fuck your decency"

- Self explanatory. Great dialogue. Serious business. But wait, why does the biggest gangster in Town have a Nigerian name? Oh Naija! Or, oh South Africa!

Quick n silent, old style - Now, that's a ruthless guy. No decency at all.

I always come around, I've just come around - sometimes, you can't explain friendship. You may go through a lot with someone, but it takes a lot for the friendship to change.

You want to go back to your big, fancy house? you want to go home? I'll show you a home. - Sensing his new found friend wants nothing to do with his shack and longs to be in a fancy house, Tsotsi says he'll show him a 'home'. Sometimes, a fancy house is not as homely as shackled house. A little food for thought.

He wants him to see his old house - The new owners of Tsotsi's old home were teasing Tsotsi. Tsotsi did want the baby to see his old 'house'. He lived on the streets, and now he was in the shacks. It was an upgrade but nothing compared to the gated community the baby was from.

You don't always see who's walking behind you - Mariam made this comment to Tsotsi while describing how her husband died. You never know who's walking behind you. You never know who's scheming to bring you down. You'd want to know but it's not that easy. I guess if you knew, you'd call him or her a 'hater'. Which is such an overused word I won't even deliberate any further until an appropriate time.

"Fifty? for broken glass?" "You see broken glass." "What do you see?" "Colour. Light. On you" - Did Terry Pheto have someone else come up with this line for her? Because it's just brilliant. Sigh. It's always great to see the brighter side of life. That's for you Nigerians on this day of your 50th independence. Back to the crux of the matter, if someone can make use of broken glass, you could also make something useful out of a broken situation. Believe, now let me hear you say VIM! VIM!

"He'll drink all your profit!" "Sick from the beer you sold him" - Be careful of how you help people like drunkards. You may get more than you bargained for and be worse off. There are people like that who can figuratively drink all your profit, hard-earned kawukudi and saved moolah. Your help can also have grave consequences like Boston getting sick from all the beer his helper sold him.

We need to do a job - Pretty strong statement. But even stronger with how it was used in the movie, I want to write a movie, some script writers are just too brilliant.

"We're going. that's all. s' good!" "Why are we sitting here?" "We're sitting. s' good!" - Great exchange between Aap and Butcher. You know, Tsotsi doesn't talk much. S' good :-)

"They say every wine is different." "You get used to the taste." - Same for beer abi? Or maybe not. You can get used to the taste for many things. But at what cost?

"Hey man, what are you doing? they haven't finished" - Aap orders as the man in hostage blows the alarm on his armed robber friends. Aap is eating at the moment, his meal is cut short. An eating men can be an angry man sometimes when his meal is cut short. I just came up with a proverb. Remember to quote me :-)

"I won it on the dice" - It seems playing dice is a very popular gambling activity in South Africa. Tsotsi told Miriam he won the money he was providing for the baby's upkeep on the dice. Where else was a gangster going to make good money?

"You can't give her back her legs, but you must give her back her son" - It seems only Miriam aka Terry Pheto's character says wise things in the movie. An African woman. Ayayai, Miriam. There are women like her in the shantytowns? Zongos, here I come.

"But it won't make you his mother" - Another piece of wisdom from who else? Can someone just let me meet Terry Pheto already? I'll pay.

"If I take him back, can I still come here?" - A good African woman can change a gangster, I tell you. Tsotsi had fallen in love. He was prepared to do every good thing in the book to win the heart of a woman. Wouldn't you? This is freaking Terry Pheto we are talking about :-) It must be noted that Miriam's response to Tsotsi's query was a 'wink'. A wise man said 70% of all communication is not spoken :-).

"It's over!". "It's true man" - I thought it was interesting how the characters spoke English for emphasis, it's normally the other way around - normal dialogue is in English and then people switch to vernacular for emphasis. When you're speaking vernacular normally, the tables turn

"Ngiyabonga!"How many languages are actually in this movie? It won the foreign language film oscar eh? :-) This was said by the security man to the husband. Right after Ngiyabonga, we hear thanks - from wife to hubby. Great writing.

"Your baby, I'll leave it here" - Of course, Tsotsi listened to Miriam. Wouldn't you?

"Don't you touch me! (in vernacular)" - We saw her speak English last time but when it's serious, it's local language baby!

"O grande? All right?" - Wait! What! Spanish?! This was from the hubby to Tsotsi while opening the gate. You don't stop to amaze me, this movie, or South Africa by extension.

"Put your hands above your head" - When you hear this line, it looks like it's for an arrest right? But if you've followed the movie closely, putting your hands above your head can also signify a victory to me! it's the sign of a victory!

Super movie! You have to see Tsotsi if you haven't already. Get someone to buy it for you from South Africa if you don't have access to it. It's a keeper!
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