The main character in CITY OF GOD is not a person but a place.
Cidade de Deus is a Brazilian housing project born in the
1960s that - as organized crime and drugs gained a foothold
- became one of the most dangerous places in Rio de Janeiro.
For its improvised residents, laws are made not by the government
but by the teenage drug barons and gang leaders who rule using
fear. The narrator Rocket, a poor black kid too scared to
become an outlaw but also too smart for an underpaid job,
discovers he can see reality with a different eye: the eye
of a camera. Then there is Lil Dice, a kid the same age who
already dreams of being Rio de Janeiro's most dangerous criminal.
Through Rocket's perspective of life, we understand the humanity
of a world condemned to endless violence.
Over one million Rio de Janeiro residents live in
ghettos devastated by drug trafficking and class warfare.
In City of God, director Fernando Meirelles recounts the true
story of two children who grew up in the slums of the '60s
and how one turned to violence and another turned to photography
during the disco '70s.
According to the young Rocket, "We were far from the
picture-perfect postcard image of Rio de Janeiro." This
ultra-realist MTV-style spectacle has the style and urgency
but none of its moral ambiguities—every other line of
Rocket's more or less throwaway voiceover makes gratuitous
reference to the holiness and irony of the film's title and
everyone's not-so-divine function as god, devil or angel of
vengeance. Only when Meirelles chooses to focus on the rival
Li'l Zé and Knockout Ned's ironic relationship to local
police and media does the film transcend the non-stop bullet
Still, Meirelles's competency as a storyteller is remarkable,
as is the jittery lyricism with which he connects the film's
many narratives and characters. Tarantino's influence is all
over City of God though the effortless grace with which the
entire film is assembled more accurately brings to mind Scorsese's
Goodfellas. Even if the film packs the overall resonance of
Casino, it's still never lacking in excitement. The calculated
vigor and brutalism should appeal to anyone and is a sure
SPECIAL FEATURES :
The disc packs a trailer, highlights of the film,
and interviews of the cast and crew where they share how the
movie came about and processed. Also included are small pieces
of behind the scenes of several keypoints of the film like
the gun battle, dance ball and the stylized circular rigged
camera work at the beginning of the film.
film remains spectacular in the preserved widescreen. Cesar
Charlone, the director of photography, saturates the imagery
of the film in light, as if God himself was watching his “children”
play their war games against the backdrop of the impoverished
Brazilian people, and adds a unique dimension to the familiarity
of gangster stories. Few films have looked as beautiful and
as raw at precisely the same time, but Charlone gives each
moment the same blaring intensity, whether it’s Rocket
sharing a quiet moment with Angelica on the beach or Lil’
Ze teaching a six year-old street urchin a lesson in a back
alley. From the hardcore soundtrack and clucking chickens
to the perpetually firing guns and shouting, the sound mix
is as good as it gets for a title like this.
by Lokman B S