Cidade de Deus

Cidade de Deus was an intensely violent film, to say the least.  At times it was hard for me to watch not only because there was a lot of murder, but because it was mainly done by children.  When reading Julio Cesar Pino’s article on the economic status of people that lived in these slums or favelas, it was a little bit clearer why these kids had this stealing and murder mentality.

He said that a lot of the jobs that were available to the favelados were non-specialized such as domestic services and construction.  With non-specialized jobs there is no security or benefits someone would find in a steady job.  This was depicted in the movie when Rocket could hardly make any money in Cidade de Deus.  He was having a really rough time being an honest boy and not getting into trouble like most of the kids his age were doing.  The film showed an event where he actually got a job in the supermarket but was fired after his boss wrongfully accused him being part of a gang.

In the film most of the scenes were in the City of God and the viewer did not really get a picture of life outside the favela.  Ney dos Santos Oliviera’s piece on favelas vs. ghettos explained a bit why there was such segregation from the City of God compared to the outside towns.  He said that, although it is not greatly accounted for in Brazil, blacks and mulattos suffer the same poverty and discrimination and was typically the residents of favelas.  Favelados (the residents) were depicted as lazy and there were zoning projects to prevent the construction of favelas.  Oliviera basically said that a favela was not somewhere you want to be just like ghettos in New York City.  The point in the film that showed this aspect was when Rocket was at the Newspaper and had some of his pictures developed.  When they were mistakenly used on the front page it was a huge deal to everyone outside of the City of God.  No one dared to go into the city and also no one knew the extent of the violence.  Children with guns is of course alarming, especially when posted on the front page.  It was interesting to see then when Rocket went back to take more pictures for the newspaper that Li’l Ze wanted to have his picture taken along with all the other gang members.  They wanted it to be known that they have such power in the city and they meant business.

One thing that surprised me about the film was that Rocket never got involved in any gangs.  He was surrounded by bad influences and even his brother was a gang member.  However, it seemed like it would be such a difficult life either in a gang or not.  In a gang yes you have money but who knows when Li’l Z would go off and kill you but not in a gang you have little to no money.  But as they say, honesty is the best policy.