Set in the City of God, a ghetto of Rio de Janeiro, the movie portrays the reoccuring cycles of violence among the youth. They are forced to join gangs for survival because law enforcement is so corrupt. As the crime level soars, the narrarator, Rocket, remains the one honest youth who aspires to be a photographer. Throughout the film, Rocket watches the gang take over the ghetto, but is too gun-shy to get involved himself.
The government did not provide for the ghetto, and often the laborers would have to find work on their own. “The economic growth of the city of Rio de Janeiro from 1930 to 1960 produced radical and unexpected shifts in the structure of the labor market.” (Pino 20). Rockets says in the beginining of the movie “we were too far removed from the perfect post-card image of Rio de Janeiro”. The City of God is the perfect example of criminals running rampant and the government’s apathy toward the situation. “The combination of inflation, low wages and transience of employment forced the poor to contruct their own residences.” (Pino 20) Pino goes on to say the self-construction of housing became an ecomnomic necessity for the growing numbers of citizens, and thus, a growing number of favelas.
Oliveira says “the use of the term favelas in Brazila does not carry such strong (negative) connotations about race or ethnicity; favelas are not exclusively racial enclaves.” (Oliveira 73) In contrast, there were only a couple of white charcters in the film and portrayed the favelas to be the rough and poor part of town. RTocket says in the begining they came to the city of god is search of paradise, but many families were homeless due to flooding, arson etc. But to the higher-up in government, their problems didn’t matter. There were no paved roads and no electricity. It is difficult to identify with the lifestyle of those living in the favelas, and for this reason I believe there is a strong emotional comparison.
Once Rocket gets a camera, he becomes an important person in the movie. With his camera, he can take pictures of the gang and promote their leadership/dominance and at the same time he can work as a journalist at the local paper, enabling him to get his foot in the door as a photographer. This opportunity also leads his to discover the corruption of the police, making deals with Li’l Ze and providing weapons for the gang.
The begining of the movie jumps forward to the end when Rocket is caught in the middle of the police and the gang, both groups pointing guns at each other. This scene reveals Rocket’s position throughout most of the film. Growing up with the gang, but always on the sideline pursuing photography and staying away from the real danger. The movie uses voice-over techniques and flashbacks to tell the story in a unique way (Hart 208).