City of God

City of God

Holy shit! That was actually a really good movie. Not to say the other movies we have watched thus far have been complete crap, but that movie was actually really entertaining and well written and masterfully directed. The film is based on the novel of the same name by Paulo which came out in 1997, was reissued in a reduced edition in 2002. A film by Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles, City of God reveals what growing up in the Shanty towns of Rio de Janeiro is like. It follows a young poverty stricken group of kids from in the sixties, focusing mainly on and narrated by the character Rocket. I really like how the story spans three decades, enabling the viewer to understand the various obstacles poor Brazilians from these shanty towns faced. In a movie review by Joanne Laurier, a writer for, she criticizes the movie for being passive towards violence and felt psychologically disconnected from the characters. I completely disagree with statement.1 Yes the movie was brutally violent, but this was not intended to be an exact portrayal of every child’s life in Rio. Meirelles intention is to demonstrate the lawlessness and yes often violent incidents which occur quite often in Rio and more importantly shanty towns. This is an except from the U.S. State Department’s website on International travel.

While crime occurs throughout the year, it is more frequent during Carnaval and the weeks prior. In the weeks before Carnaval 2009, robbers ransacked two tourist hostels. Two U.S. citizens were also shot and killed by off-duty policemen outside of nightclubs after altercations in 2007 and 2008. Though the victims were unarmed, in 2010 the courts upheld verdicts of not guilty by reason of self-defense. Be aware of your surroundings. If robbed, do not attempt to resist or fight back, but rather relinquish your personal belongings. Choose lodging carefully, considering security and availability of a safe to store valuables, as well as location.2

Laurie feels disconnected to such a cold blooded character as Li’l Ze’s, and probably a little leery that one person, such as Rocket would be wrapped up in that much chaos. But the movie is about the City of God. The characters are representative of a vast majority of problems plaguing Rio. Li’l Ze’s character is far too wicked and cold blooded to be represent a single thug in the City of God, yet in order to simplify this story into a captivating cinematic experience, Meirelles uses him to represent some of the worst aspects of these towns which include; brutal poverty, lack of parental guidance, poor gun control, drug trafficking, police corruption, child brutality, and lawlessness of the City of God. I his distance and fragility towards his characters allow the view to focus more on the issues at hand rather than why would that character be doing that. Rocket represent hope and perseverance, by resisting the urge to take the easy way he is able to survive. In the end, out of the seven or eight main characters, four are killed, one is saved by turning to God early on, one gets hooked on drugs, and only Rocket defies the odds. The City of God illustrates the insurmountable odds poverty stricken children in Rio de Janeiro must surpass in order to overcome poverty honestly.

Taylor D. Ross



Taylor Ross History475