Cidade de deus is a film from 2002 based upon a real-life favela (ghetto) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The film illustrates the issues of drug wars and how they can absolutely take over a neighborhood. The two primary dealers were Li’l Ze and Knockout Ned who were vying for control of the neighborhood and their wallets. A few key elements of the film are the corruption of the local government, the struggle to gain and maintain majority control and power, and the change that occurred when City of God transitioned from a rural area when they were children to an urban area when they grew into their late teens.
In the story we see several symbolic characters, including Rocket, the younger brother of a hoodlum who died at the hands of Li’l Ze and sought to expose the violence of Cidade de Deus, Bene, who illustrated the desire to get out of the favela and do better for himself, Knockout Ned who did not want to do any harm, but got sucked into the underworld by Carrot, coupled with the knowledge that Li’l Ze wanted him dead, and finally was Li’l Ze himself, the crazed product of the original trifecta of power in Cidade de Deus. He, according to the Harton Article, epitomized the subaltern class that is marked by violence, illiteracy, and murder. The upbringing of Li’l Ze shows the viewer the gradual corruption of youth through limited exposure to violence as a small child, and the breaking point (in the case of Li’l Ze, the hotel robbery turned massacre) where the shift in mindset takes over. Then we gradually see him become the foremost gangster of Cidade de Deus and turning that corruption over to the next generation of gangster, as we can see when he forces steak and fries to shoot the 2 “runts” in the foot for stealing and then forces him to kill one of them.
Aside from the violence, changes in power from one drug lord to the other brought about relative stability to the region, as described in the Oliviera article, this is a result of being overlooked by National Economic Policy and essentially having to fend for themselves. The realization that the police were not the saviors that they should be, instead of eliminating the crime, they were supplying the criminals with small arms, and it was through photojournalism of people like Rocket, were the pieces of the puzzle put together that would lead the trail back to the Police. This underground world of violence, murder, and corruption was bound together only by fear, fear that drug lords like Li’l Ze would kill them and their entire families if they went against him or his orders .