Films often are created to have a deeper analysis then the superficial background and acting that is presented. There are times when directors want to convey a deeper message with their movies, such as in the Passion of the Christ,Gone with the Wind, Cider House Rules, and thousands of other powerful stories that has a deeper message to them. Such a movie that has deeper connotations is the Brazilian crime drama, City of God. The movieCity of God represents a deep ideological debate that transplants over to the social and cultural issues that are prevalent in American society. With their use of simple camera tricks and lighting they were able to highlight the raw and authentic nature of life in the City of God.
City of God starts off with the protagonist, Rocket being caught in the crossfires of the antagonist, Lil Ze, the police, and rival gang members. Unlike most movies, City of God started with the one of the last scenes of the movies in order to provide the protagonist to treat the reader to an interesting backstory. City of God is crime thriller based on telling the story of the life of Rocket living in the favela, and Lil Ze who rose to power, that murdered, and did what he wanted. The other characters show have their place in the stories as examples of daily life, the drama, the fear, crime, and the sadness of never getting out of their situation. While the movie does a bit of over exaggeration in order to make a point to show how the glorification of sex and violence in movies is prevalent the real story of the movie took place in Rio de Janerio during the 1960’s and 80’s. The movie’s theme shows the effects of poverty as the images of favelas showed how time and the government had forgotten about the people who lived in the ghettos. The movie’s use of realism and grittiness of the scenes depicted, shed light on the realities of over 500 shanty town favelas located throughout Brazil. The title of City of God, was a representation of an actual favela, Cidade de Deus, where drugs and organized crime grew exponentially that aided to the social stratification and criminal behavior of the people in the favelas.
The antagonist Lil Ze was a feared sociopath drug lord of a notorious gang that terrorized the streets of Brazil in 70s and 80s. All the main characters in the story except for the protagonist, Rocket and Lil Zewere developed poorly. Rocket was able to act as the story’s narrator, where the viewers were able to get a since of his voice, his emotions, and his experience. Lil Ze who was once friends with Rocket, was develop through the film from a troubled kid but also grew to be ruthless, masochistic, rapist, and murderer. The three most important scenes of the film are the beginning, where Lil Ze was killed by the “Runts” bent on revenge for the death of their friend by Lil Ze, and Rocket was walking away with the photos. which was really the end, where Rocket being the journalist was caught between Lil Ze trying to obtain glory and the police. The second scene was when Lil Ze’s confidant, Benny, and only conscious was shot trying to stop an altercation. The last important scene was the end of the movie, was Rocket and his friend walking past the “Runts” who are talking about taking over the city, the cycle never ends. As the music echoed in the movie, and the soundtrack correlated with the scenes, it provided a raw context to the action scenes.
The cinematography of the movie is shot through a shaky camera that showed the city in a natural light where at night the scenes were highlighted with a blue tint that seemed to show the grittiness of each murder, each crime, and during the day it was a tinted hue to highlight the dirtiness of the favela. Although the camera was mostly on Rocket, other scenes were view by second-person perspective. During intense scenes the camera was shaky and shot to show people the action. Something that is repeated is the Rocket and the gang chasing a chicken, this chicken leads them into the middle of a standoff situation, which symbols everything is in chaos. City of God uses its simple imagery, and real backdrop to create an authentic story, which characters hired from real favelas in Brazil, to show the raw emotions and situations that happen in their daily lives. The use of the blue and yellow tint to switch from day to night is a camera trick to highlight the cold black night, and grittiness of the lives they were living.
The City of God was a simple movie that depicted amateur actors that lived in the favelas and ghettos of Brazil. The movie used simple cinematography and soundtrack to provide substance to each scene. The movie provided hard themes on the celebration of violence, social issues that stem from racial discrimination, poverty, and lack of women’s rights provides a powerful display that is represented in this real life story set in Brazil.