Cidade de Deus

The film City of God focuses on the story of two boys who grew up in a violent section of Rio de Janeiro during the 1960’s through 1980’s. The film depicts the turmoil, poverty and corruptness of the area that fosters the gang violence and drug trade that is prevalent in the area. The favela the main character inhabits, Cidade de Deus, is heavily influenced by favelado’s; most often gang members and drug dealers. These suburbs of the major cities were constructed on the outskirts of major towns, replacing shantytowns after the 1940’s and as stated in the film; the poor were shipped there and like garbage discarded. As Julio Cesar Pino states in his article Labor in the Favelas of Rio de Janeiro 1940-1969 on page 18, the rate of poverty rose due to the production firms using unskilled laborers on a temporary basis with no established contract or guarantee for continued wages. The effects of this can be seen throughout the film as the dynamics of the favela seen in a constant battle between the often corrupt police and the many rival gangs of the area. The level of poverty leads people in search of an alternate option for income since it is impossible to thrive in such an environment. In doing so, many of the men in these areas turned to the established gangs and the expanding drug trade. Ney dos Santos Oliviera’s article Favelas and Ghettos: Race and Class in Rio de Janeiro and New York City was interesting in relation to the film because it discusses on page 73 how the term favela differs from that of a ghetto, the racial influence is not and undertone with the term favela. Whereas the thought of a ghetto carries with it underlying racial stereotypes and negative connotations. Although favelas are technically mixed race, the majority of the population is still black and Oliviera states that this creates and easier environment with which to foster political agenda’s geared towards a certain group. While this film was extremely well made and interesting to watch it would have benefitted by giving a wider perspective to its audience. It focused on the story of rocket and his growing up in a favela and how it affected him overall as a person. While the film covered this well it could have proven its point about favela’s by showing more of a comparison to them alongside that of more metropolitan Rio de Janeiro instead of keeping its focus entirely on the inner workings of Cidade de Deus. Overall the film was well made, interesting and insightful. Oliveira’s article state that approximately a little less than half of Brazil metropolitan population lived in favela’s, therefore this spread light on a relevant issue of which I had no idea. It is interesting to see how environment affects people and vice versa, if the character of Rocket was able to grow and thrive in a location such as this can others do it as well or was he simply able to develop so well do to luck?