City of the Dead

 <br /><div class="MsoNormal">Cidade de Deus (City of God) is a 2008 movie depicting the lives of several inhabitants of a favela in Rio de Janeiro.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span>The film utilizes expressionist cinematography to give it a strikingly realistic picture. Coupled with the addition of voiceover and an actively conscious flashback technique, Cidade de Deus’s storytelling manages to not only come across as generally realistic, but more directly, as human. These factors come together to produce what Stephen Hart calls a ‘testimonio,’ or a fictionalized telling of a real story based on real characters (Hart 205).<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span>The effectiveness of cinematic method does well to mask the inaccuracies of the film, as the narrator’s memory in places is as almost as incomplete as the audience’s own until the resolution of the plot. However, the film does skew the historical perspective of the film, glossing over some points and causing inaccuracies in its depiction of favelas in the late 20<sup>th</sup> century.</div><div class="MsoNormal"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal">A rather noticeable item to point out is the English translation of ‘favela’ in the film.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span>The subtitles translate the term as ‘ghetto’ and, while this may be the closest relation for a favela for a generally knowledgeable American, the two are intrinsically different. In a rapidly urbanizing Brazil, inflation, unstable employment, and lack of a suitable wage led to development of shantytowns. These self-constructed homes provided a proximity to the workplace and the availability to apply for city services without having to be able to afford rent for private or government housing (Pino 21).<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span>Favelas, as opposed to ghettos are more segregated from its urban surroundings in regards to class instead of race. <span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp;</span>The possibility of steady employment being heavily dependent on the surrounding industries, workers were easily replaceable, and wages were barely enough to sustain a family. As a result, the predominant class in the favela was an underclass in itself, the subproletariat. While the favela’s underclass is determined by the collective urban poor, Oliveira explains that the ghetto is comprised by racial minorities. As the white upper class in the United States began to move into the suburban areas, the abandoned housing of the industrialized inner city was left to blacks. Pricing discrimination and further real-estate troubles kept the racial minorities successfully segregated from the more well-to-do whites (Oliveira 77).<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span></div><div class="MsoNormal"><br /></div><div class="MsoNormal">While a form of segregation is depicted in Cidade de Deus, it isn’t of a racial nature, it is the isolation caused by the economical situation of the favela.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span>Even with the potential for labor, as we see with Rocket’s attempt to work at a market, and Knockout Ned’s work on the bus, the most lucrative and station-raising option was violence and crime, which the authorities were keen on ignoring as long as they were able to contain and/or take their part in it. The violent life of the City of the Dead continuously follows its inhabitants, reinforcing their place in the favela. Benny, friend to the most powerful drug lord is killed. Knockout Ned turns to crime to avenge his family, as a youth whose father is murdered by Ned kills him for the same reason.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span>Even Rocket’s opportunities in photography come from his connections with the place (Hart 207). <span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp;</span>Even when Rocket obtains his position, through years of great difficulty, the violent culture of the City of the Dead remains unchanged, with the new youth eager to assume the power that the drug lords had left behind, solidifying the inescapability of the cycle of violence caused by the economic isolation of the favela.</div><div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='' alt='' /></div>