Cidade de Deus

Cidade de Deus (2002) is about life in the favelas in Rio de Janeiro Brazil. Pino explains that after an agricultural crisis in Brazil, there was massive rural immigration to the major cities. He explains that this was, ““… attributable to a number of factors, ranging from the low degree of mechanization and the labor intensive methods of harvest to the intolerable health conditions and physical exhaustion of the field hands, low prices for farm products, and inadequate transport system for agricultural goods, and the flow of laborers to the city, which served as both cause and effect for rural decay.” He also explains that there were not enough jobs, or well paying job to sustain the influx of workers. This is why the informal market was so huge in favelas. The only way to make real money was to sell drugs and weapons, or to rob. Cidade de Deus depicts the existence of informal jobs. Everyone is selling drugs or robbing things. Even in the opening scene of the movie we see teenagers robbing a gas truck.

The film depicts life in favelas through the eyes of Rocket, whose sole ambition is to become a photographer. Rocket explains when they first moved to the favela, they thought that all their worries would be gone, but then the government turned a blind eye on the poor. This structural violence that the people in the favelas suffered led to even more violence when they started looking to sustain their livelihoods though informal means. Children and teenagers began selling drugs and weapons in order to make to a livelihood. This is a prime example of violence regenerates itself. The government did little to help these people, so they turned to violent means to make a living. This violence in Cidade de Deus was in turn accepted and perpetuated by the government and law enforcement agencies, who from sold weapons to gangsters in order to make a profit.

Stephen Hart explains, “it would be difficult to think of a story which has less hallmarks of what has traditionally come to be known as the subaltern class, a violent, voiceless, illiterate group of murderers living in a shanty town near Rio de Janeiro…[but] 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.” At the end of the movie, we come to find out that the police had been selling weapons to Lil’l Ze and his rival gang all along. At the end of the movie, when the police capture Lil’l Ze and his rival, they take him into an alley and rob him of the money they owed him for the guns he stole. This shows the extent of police corruption. The only time they actually showed up to do anything in Cidade de Dues was when one of the gangsters owed them money. At the very end of the movie, Lil’l Ze is murdered by children, who claim that they will be a part of the next generation of gangsters. This is an excellent example of the circular pattern of violence. These children grew up in a city where violent acts transpired every day; they were taught that violence would solve their problems.

This movie depicts numerous human rights that were violated in the favelas: children’s rights, women’s rights, the right to self determination, etc. These people have been taught that they can only respond to violence with more violence. Knockout Ned resorts after Lil’l Ze rapes his girlfriend and kills his brother. Knockout Ned murdered a child’s father and the child ends up killing Knockout Ned. Violence is a continuous process; violence gives birth to itself. But at the end of the movie, it is hard to feel bad for these people. They were forced to turn to a life of violence because they were denied upward social mobilization.