City Of God

         Cidade De Deus is a movie that portrays the real life events of a suburban neighborhood in Rio De Janeiro. Although the title of the story is the City of God, you should not be fooled by it’s peaceful sound. In fact the Cidade De Deus is anything but peaceful. The violent story of these slums is told through the eyes of a young boy whose nickname is Rocket. The story focuses around the real life struggles of those living in these lower income sections of the city. Rocket, the son of a fishmonger, is just trying to make a living and survive throughout the better portion of this film. The film starts by showing a group of chickens being prepared for a meal when one sneaks out and the local gang chases after it. The chicken ends up running into Rocket in the middle of the street where the gang and police each arrive simultaneously. From here the film quickly flashes back to ten years earlier to explain how Rocket managed to get himself in this position.
         A local group of kids known as the “Tender Trio” are involved in petty crimes such as holding up local convenient stores and truck drivers bringing gas through the small town. In turn Clipper, Shaggy, and Goose (Rockets brother) take some of the stolen money and share it with the towns people. This causes them to gain approval because of there robin hood like approach to petty theft and also protection from the locals who refuse to tell the police anything. Even if a robbery occurred in broad day light in front of a group of people it was extremely unlikely that anyone would report seeing anything at all when the police showed up. This is not only because some of the towns people were given money, but also because of there economic status and role in the community. In low income areas the cooperation with police and local law enforcement is extremely low for a number of reasons. These range from police corruption that leads to distrust among the community and a feeling that the local law enforcement have failed them. This is because the people living in these slums see the gangs every day and have to deal with them more often than the police. Putting the gang in a position of power higher than that of the police officers who watched over the town. Also there helping out the very poor and redistributing the wealth allows them to gain favor among a majority of those living in the slums.
        As the tender trio continue on there path of petty crimes, Lil dice, decides to step up the action. Although Lil Dice is not part of the trio, he convinces the crew to hold up a motel and its occupants for a much larger score than in any previous robbery. Lil Dice is put on watch outside the hotel despite his desire to get in on the action. Due to his impatience he fires the warning shot that sends the trio running. Finding out only later that this was all a diversion so Lil Dice could go into the motel after they had left and execute the remaining occupants. This causes a backlash of problems for the trio who, for the most part, get out of the game of serious crime and go about a more honest way of life. This leaves a power vacuum for Lil Dice to step up and later take control of the slums by extremely violent means. Usually this meant murder for the unlucky drug dealers that he saw as an obstacle.
        Lil Dice decides to take part in a shamanistic type ritual that symbolizes his birth into his new role and violent life-style. Stephen Hart covers this topic in his article on the film. He says that this ritual is Lil Dices “baptism into a new religion of hate”. This is a complete role reversal of a Catholic baptism because Lil Ze leaves his old name behind and takes on his new identity. The film is all about the idea of going full circle. No one in the slums is safe and the corruption and violence is not limited to the people living there. The same level of corruption is present in the police department, who is actively involved in racketeering and other types of shake downs. Much like Rockets path leads him smack in the middle of the police and Lil Ze’s gang, anyone in the town can get caught up in this full circle of violence. This was true for a majority of those living in the town, whether someone wanted to be involved or not. In one way or another everyone is involved in the violence or drug dealing aspect that controlled the area. Whenever there is that much money flowing into an impoverished community there will be violence present to control this influx of income. Ultimately Lil Ze is murdered by the group of kids known as the runts. This was an act of revenge for Lil Ze killing one of there own earlier in the film. Showing exactly how this violent cycle will never end as long as the drugs and corruption are present.