Monday, August 06, 2007


I very recently watched the movie Tsotsi and I LOVED it. I watched it Sunday night on the Greyhound bus from New York to Boston. (On my laptop.) I had a seat to myself. I was in my own little headphone world, watching this movie in the darknesss while the majority of the bus passengers slept. It was amazing.

Part of why it is amazing is because it is about forgiveness and redemption. I am very philosophically into what forgiveness and redemption mean, separately and in relation to each other. And it's interesting that this was a South Africa movie, because the last deep moving experience I had with forgiveness and the incredible human capacity for redemption was also related to South Africa. I loved Desmond Tutu's words on forgiveness in the Speak Truth to Power play; I often told my cast in Korea how moved I was by this part:

"One of the extraordinary things is how many of those who have suffered most grievously have been ready to forgive—people who you thought might be consumed by bitterness, by a lust for revenge. A massacre occurred in which soldiers had opened fire on a demonstration by the ANC (African National Congress), and about twenty people were killed and many wounded. We had a hearing chock-a-block full with people who had lost loved ones, or been injured. Four officers came up, one white and three black. The white said: 'We gave the orders for the soldiers to open fire'—in this room, where the tension could be cut with a knife, it was so palpable. Then he turned to the audience and said, 'Please, forgive us. And please receive these, my colleagues, back into the community.' And that very angry audience broke out into quite deafening applause. It was an incredible moment. I said, 'Let’s keep quiet, because we are in the presence of something holy.'"

Those words gave me the chills, and I often told my Desmond Tutu actor that. (But hey, no pressure!) Actually, at one rehearsal we all got in a lengthy discussion about it. My cast expressed an overall surprise, mixed with a fair amount of resistance, to my emphasis on forgiveness as an overriding theme of this play. I see it as one of the crucial elements of how the human rights defenders are able to do the amazing work they do.

Forgiveness is so often about the forgiver, not the forgivee, anyway. It is also not synonymous with "forget." I think forgiveness is way misunderstood. But it is good stuff.

Tsotsi won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar for 2005. I was in Korea at that time, and don't think I saw any of the foreign film category noms that Oscar season.

It's incredible. Hie thee to Netflix.

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