The 2002 film Cidade De Deus (The City of God), was a film created to tell an amazing story. The film Cidade De Deus is a story told through director Fernando Meirelles’s eyes, but based on the original stories of gang members published in the 1997 novel by Paulo Lins. In this movie, as in any others, the director takes some creative liberties with the movie that perhaps the book does not. Through a series of artistic techniques such as flashback in the various shooting styles, voiceovers to help fill in the story, and magnification of the religious symbolism and subaltern images, the film turns into a artistic and poetic form of telling history and that of tragic circumstance. The book, like the movie, knew there had to have a poetic element to it because the amount of terror and horror in these youths story is horrific, therefore the novel “is a fictionalized version of a real-life story based on real-life characters,” as Steven Hart put it in his article. It is in combination with those aspects and addition of a few of his own that helped director Meirelles turn out a movie that was an award-winning-box office hit.
The voiceover element added quite a bit to the movie without the audience really even realizing what the effect of it had been. This element allowed the director to do a few things with the film, to fill in the holes and transition nicely leading the audience in what may happen next without actually giving anything away. For instance they may make inferences about what is to come by saying something like, “he didn’t have to defend himself tonight, but one day he would,” pertaining to Knockout Ned. This was a great tactic that the director brought over from the novel, as well as the tactic of putting image to the words that gave the subaltern element.
The subaltern element while used in the book can really be “seen” in the movie through their violent ways and obviously low class status, and the constant reminder of illiteracy problem they had. It also goes deep into the issue of how the subaltern class was very easily led and manipulated by those in higher power like in their case the police. This was, in the movie, the final undoing of all the gang violence and their leaders. It was amazing to see how no one cared, not even the police, about all the violence until it directly affected them or was put on the front page.
The elements that were not used in the book, but were in the movie that really made it a hit were the flashbacks in shooting and the more subtle religious undertone. The style of shooting that the director implemented was one of intermingling flashbacks with present scenarios. The style of flashbacks allowed the director to also lead the viewer and sometimes even surprise the viewer through flashbacks and also allowed them to view the story from both sides, almost like having a backstage look into everyone’s story. This example of the hotel robbing and throughout the movie seeing flashback of what really happened throughout their earlier stories was how the audience can see the style example.
The film and book were both expertly told and produced giving the audience a real taste for what it was really like for those who lived in the City of God. It was a horrific place of crime and violence, being brought up that way from the time you were born and never being able to escape it.