Cidade De Deus

Cidade de Deus is a rather gruesome, yet accurate portrayal of the favelas in Rio de Janeiro. These shanty neighborhoods housed thousands of migrants who had moved into the urban setting of Rio de Janeiro after 1940 [Pino]. People moved to the city in hopes of finding work, only to live lives that were marked by further poverty and governmental neglect. The film gives viewers a glimpse into this harsh reality of life from the perspective of Rocket, a child who grew up in the shanty, traumatized through the various actions of others around him. He narrates the movie, giving the audience glimpses into how the shanty lifestyle impacted not only his life, but the lives of his fellow playmates and neighbors. Due to the poverty-stricken lifestyle they have endured, the kids turn to a life of crime, robbing anyone from employed workers to places of business.

“What this film does address is the way in which the lives of the subaltern classes are manipulated by the mediatic. governmental and law-enforcing powers within society” [Hart, 204]. The film shows the police {“law-enforcing powers”} manipulating the people through false accusations (when they arrest anyone they believe might have been responsible for the hotel massacre) and through illegal gun-trade (they provide the weapons to the gangs for their own profit). The police don’t do much to stop the gang wars, they are uninvolved until the media begins to showcase the crime and murders taking place in the “City of God” [Hart, 206]. This is very reflective of the opening statement of this paragraph. The favelas seem to matter little to the government, and the people who live there seem to matter even less. Evidenced in the film, the people who dwell in City of God, and other real-life shanty-towns are quickly dismissed by the authorities and governmental heads. Their property and rights are not respected, and if the government deems it so, they are destroyed without any regard to how it affects those who live there [Pino, 27-28]. Because of the lack of wealth and status, and the lack of demand for these skilled workers, they are quickly written off.

Life in the favelas seemed to be depicted as a dog-eat-dog world. Whoever controlled the favela and those who lived there, was seen as the most powerful and respected through intimidation. People, like Lil ‘Ze’ are incessantly killing others in order to seek domination of the favela [Hart, 209]. This lifestyle is indicative of the circumstances many endured growing up, providing for themselves through any means necessary with a total disregard for human life. Those who did not succumb to this harsh life-style in the favelas were often low-paid workers, with men working in the field of industrial means and women laboring in domesticated positions [Pino]. Even though these workers held steady positions, they were often underpaid and their income provided little to help in way of housing and necessities. Growing up in the favelas proved to be trying for most of the individuals there, with few, like Rocket, finding any means of escape.