History 475 Week 11, City of God

The film this week was probably my favorite so far. It was very real and also very ‘modern’, meaning that it brought real life current events in front of me and heightened my awareness.

A few things really stuck out to me with this film. Aside from the unbelievable violence which was, for me, difficult to watch, there was a clear portrayal of a very corrupt authority. Towards the end of the film it shows the Police of the city taking money from LiL Ze and then letting him return to the streets. Stephen Hart’s article reveals that the police act this way out of preference to the middle class members of society. As long as those members of society are happy, they do not care what happens in the slums where the gangs run wild. At the opening of the movie, it portrays the police as dumb. When the three rob the gas truck, they escape quick enough to ‘change’ clothes and appear to be playing soccer and get away with their crime. Later on they fail to find the whereabouts of the fugitives even when they are simply hiding in the tops of trees. These two very clear depictions of a authority from the start of the movie to this finish show that authority in the city of god is ineffective and corrupt.

Another important issue shown in this film is class. Stephen Hart points out that Rocket only ‘lands’ a woman when he is the only photographer who can snap a picture of LiL Ze and his gang. Even though he beats the stereotype as someone who can get out of the city of god without being a Hood, he still utilizes the help and hand-out of a middle class woman who works for a paper catered to and run by other ‘white’ middle class citizens. Oliviera discusses social mobility is Brazil as a problem which is particularly difficult for people of African decent. 

These two issues are brought together with the Oliviera article. The distribution of wealth is unequal in Brazil especially for the Black population. In this article, the black and white relations in Brazil are compared with those in the United States, even the histories are similar. Although policies in America have been implemented to close the economic distribution between races, Olivera argues that it has only been marginally successful,  “while class-based policies have not succeeded in improving the condition of Brazilian blacks relative to the white population”( p77). This is a clear problem not only with class but with authority as well. Hart discusses these two issues as separate and Oliviera discusses them as one. The film shows both issues distinctly. Both authors do an exceptional job arguing their point and the film does well to show these to issues in real life situations.

As I began, this film was my favorite so far. It dealt with the history of the city, but it was a recent history. These are real life issues that people in Brazil are dealing with today. When one thinks of Latin America, images of every day life which come to mind are a great deal different that images of life in America. The comparison between the two by Oliviera is very interesting and eye opening considering they are so similar. I thoroughly enjoyed the film and the readings because I feel people should be aware of the issues faced by the citizens of the City of God.