The City of God

Katie Beeler

The City of God

Cidade De Deus (2002) gives light to life in shanti towns in Rio De Janeiro. The economic condition of the town traps it’s population in perpetual poverty and crime that is further escalated by drug trafficking, poor literacy rates, gangs, and corrupt government officials. The struggle to get out of the City of God is a reoccurring theme in the movie. For the gangs and less than productive members of society, the object of desire is money and power which ironically keeps them in the city and makes them dependent on it’s population. In the end, Rocket is the only character who makes it out of the city by being educated and not falling into drug cartel and gangs.

Rocket’s story and his quest to get of of the shanti town tells a moral and social parable of how to overcome poverty and economic oppression. His path of education and avoiding violence, drugs, and gang influence kept him alive, out of trouble, and on a path to a career that got him out of the City of God for good. Falling into a quick scheme for money and power involved with gang membership was portrayed as making a deal with the devil as Stephen Hart alludes to in his writings about the film. He states that lil’ z makes a deal with the devil (represented by the Shaman scene). Making a deal with the devil came in the form of gang membership, violence, and theft, which every character that eventually died represented and did.

The fall of the essentially “good” characters such as Knock Out Ned is the representation of how even the smallest forms of ‘evil’ became a characters down fall. Ned stood for some ‘morals’ in the beginning of his story, but once he broke and began falling into the same lifestyle as other gang members he was trapped in gang relation. violence, and eventually got killed for committing the same sort of crimes he was trying to avenge. Ned’s story shows how easy it is to fall into the trap of crime and how once you’re in you’re already in too far and can’t escape fate.

After reading “Labor in the Favelas of Rio de Janeiro, 1940-1969” by Julio Cesar Pino it’s clear that a gloomy future was held for the youth of shanti residents. The quick rise to power and money did not come through legitimate jobs as seen in the household income tables represented in his research. Gangs offered their own economic and social hierarchies that could likely out pay and offer easier access to the poor youth populations. The allure of crime was no doubt tempting to those who saw a future of legitimate hard work that would get them no where and keep them stuck in Shanti towns. Clearly these choices of right and wrong paths are displayed in the film with their consequences but also show the class struggle that makes crime so alluring…..