City of Gods is an amazing view into a world rarley ever spoken of. It will leave you thinking about the characters for days.
City of Gods
“The streets of the world's most notorious slum, Rio de Janeiro's City of God, are a place where combat photographers fear to tread, police rarely go and residents are lucky if they live to the age of 20. In the midst of the oppressive crime and violence, a young boy will grow up to discover that he can view the harsh realities of his surroundings with an artistic eye. In the face of impossible odds, his brave ambition to become a professional photographer becomes a window into his world and ultimately his way out” - Miramax Synopsis
The motion picture City of God, based on the 1997 book "Cidade de Deus" (City of God) by Paulo Lins, is an entertaining gangster story; set in "Cidade de Deus" (nickname for the Favelas of Brazil's largest city Rio de Janeiro). This film explores the side effect of Brazil's political and economic turmoil from the 70s through the turn of the 20th century. Included in this adventure of a movie is a story of love, dreams, and of course, tragedy. It contains violence and action that could rival war films of the same period. The film is divided into three parts. Each part tells the story of different characters making this movie a three-for-one experience.
“At its heart, City of God is a gangster film, and a great one: epic in scope, powerful in conception, brilliant in execution.” - The Atlantic.
This story follows "Rocket," an aspiring journalist and a young bystander, to the events that unfold around him as he narrates his childhood. In 3 parts, this protagonist explains how different people affected what was happening around him. The first of these three is the story of "the trio"; Shaggy (Cabeleira), Clipper (Alicante), and Goose (Marreco); and the early stage of the favelas. That leads to the story of "Lil Ze." After that, the film's mood gets darker as you see the rise in crime and violence. Lastly, the story of "Knockout Ned" and essentially a civil war.
“The film has been compared with Scorsese's ‘GoodFellas,’ and it deserves the comparison.”
- Roger & Ebert reviews.
Rocket narrates most of the film. Rocket's narration gives a vibes reminiscence to a tour guide, rather than the reporter he hopes to become, to the events that unfold before his eyes. Although the film is in Portuguese, the narration is elegant and artistic to make the film easy to follow for non-Portuguese speakers.
The cinematography in this movie stands out as you move through the different periods of the neighborhood. It is noticeable how the style of imagery changes to match the era. The beginning of the film gives off an old fashion period. As the story evolves, it becomes a dark age of poverty and crime, and the grim, enclosed favela is captured beautifully. This film style continues throughout the film's ending.
“Meirelles is an extraordinarily stylish filmmaker, who employs dizzying camerawork, a raucous soundtrack, split screens, and a considerable dose of dark humor to keep City of God moving at a heady, intoxicating pace”.
- The Atlantic .
The film is filled with information and moves at a high tempo. You must keep your eyes open and pay attention to as many details as possible to get the most out of the film. There is tons of action for the cameras to capture. This film will not fall short of captivating you.
It is personally one of my favorite films!