City of God

City of god

Cidade de Deus is a 2002 film, directed by Fernando Meirelles.   Urbanization and poverty are the central themes of the film.   The film takes place in the “City of God” in Rio de Janeiro during the 1960s and continues through the 80s, when urbanization and poverty were growing at an alarming rate.  The film is based on the novel written by Paulo Lins, and shows the struggles of how small gangs of children progressed over time.  The Ghettos in the City of God are referred to as Favelas.  When we generally think about poor we envision people starving and living in housing projects but still with enough means and government assistance to make it by.   In Julio Cesar Pino’s article- he classifies the poor into a new category called sub-proletariat which is a groups living well below the normal proletariat poverty group.  The individuals in these favelas had nothing to their name and often many children passed up the opportunity to have honest work to join gangs and make quick money.  This meant buying and selling drugs to make a living which was often accompanied by brutal violent acts.  The twist to this film is that the individuals that we are discussing are kids!  The brutal acts of violence and street life are targeted at a much younger age group than here in America. 

Hart’s Article discusses how the book is loosely based on real situations and real characters (205).  He goes into how the individuals in the film were influenced by the powers of law and society (Hart 206).  The film which is filled with unbelievable amounts of violence shows the influence of gangs and different territories.   Another aspect of the gang in this film is the amount of religious symbolism that accompanies it.  The parallel with religion and gang violence is clear as the film translates to “City of God”.  The violence is central in the film and it seems as if the characters use violence as a religion (religion of violence).   The violence in the City of God stems from issues of class and status as discussed by Oliver’s article (72).  The gang violence in Brazil was compared to that of gang violence in New York city and Oliver found a distinct difference.  In the ghettos of America, violence often stemmed from racial conflicts, and almost always centered around African- American struggle (73).  The mixture of races in the favelas integrated individuals, but created a struggle for power in the ghetto when dealing with drugs and money.  We basically saw two different gangs represented in the film.  That of Lil’Z and that of Knockout Ned, both were racially mixed but both with an intense struggle for power.  The corruption of the government was clearly seen in the scene in which Rocket follows the 2 rivals gangs to take pictures for his paper.  This sends the message that although these groups are clearly in a battle with one another, people continue to ignore it.  The extremely poor “sub-prolitariat” group is swept under the rug and made someone elses problem.