City of God

Cidade de Deus, or City of God, was a film that was released in 2002. It shows extremely well how horrible urban life in Brazil can be. The film really shows that we are used to a different lifestyle in the United States. The Ney dos Santos Oliviera reading says it best with “In the United States, race-based policies and social organization along racial lines have obscured and in some ways precluded attention to class as a basis of identity formation as well as a fundamental form of oppression. The film showed this with the criminals in the gang and how they did not base much on race and class. African Americans, Latinos, and whites were all in some form of power in the gangs. The only racism showed in the film is from the police force when they refer to some of the gang members with negative connotations. Even with all the negative things associated with gangs, the lack of racism can be seen as a positive aspect brought about from their formation.

            While there was a police force in the movie, it was not capable of holding down the violence occurring throughout the neighborhood shown in the film. The extent of the violence was nowhere close to anything seen in the United States, and could only be described as war. Death was not only seen throughout the film but it was almost as if citizens in the city expected it. Without a police force, the gangs of juvenile criminals had taken control of the city in many ways including commerce and crime. In the beginning of the film it shows how not only how this system was set up, but also how the citizens of the city allowed it to occur. The trio of criminals had a robin hood mentality which allowed them to hide from the police and not be caught. By giving some of the money they stole to the citizens of town it made their criminal activity appear less wrong then it really was. Lil Dice took it to the next level by stealing people’s lives too in obvious enjoyment. When there is a lacking of formal authority in society then the citizens will make it up by having informal power setups. The gangs were a way to traffic drugs, money and every vice society has. The Pino article says it best with “It is my contention that the inhabitants formed part of an urban sub proletariat that maintained precarious connections to the job market but netherless performed economic functions vital to the functioning of the city and the nation”. It is amazing how society and people will find a way to survive, regardless of the conditions they find themselves in. Even with all the death and destruction that the gangs bring to the city, they also bring economic benefits that allow everything to occur. The film not only showed how crime is allowed to occur Brazil but also throughout other nations. The benefits of the gangs, along with the fear people have of them, allow for them to survive.

            While living in the city really appeared to be hell on earth, there was the opportunity to escape it to have success in life. The main character in the film, firecracker, represents this perfectly as he becomes a photographer and completes his childhood dream. It’s ironic that he becomes famous by using the photos of the man who killed his brother.