What is it about?
Based on a true story, the protagonist Rocket grows up in the favela ‘City of God’ and has the aspiration of becoming a photographer. The movie is quite complex and has at least 3-4 stories within it. But to sum it up, the film is about the drug gangs in The City of God and how they came about . Our narrator is Rocket as he witnesses how the favela changes. One of the main characters is Little Ze who is the same age as Rocket and the film looks at how they take very different paths, one becomes a gang leader and the other a photographer.
Cast : Alexandre Rodrigues, Leandro Firmino, Phellipe Haagensen
Writer : Braulio Mantovani
Director : Fernando Meirelles
Based on the novel written by Paulo Lins.
From here on there will be spoilers as I explore the meanings of the film and what I personally liked/disliked about it. Okay! Moving on!
What I thought…
This film gripped my attention from start to finish. Rocket takes you on a journey through the gang generations of the ‘City of God’ starting with the ‘Tender Trio’. I loved the idea of the Tender Trio as it has that Robin Hood ideology, like when they steal the cargo from that truck and give it to the community. This is a nice image and suggests that the boys involved are not ‘hard cold criminals’. However, within the Tender Trio, Goose is Rockets brother so it would suggest that it may be biased. During this story of the tender trio we meet Little Ze when he still is little, it is interesting to see him grow throughout the film and it leads me to question whether he would have always turned out the way that he did, or if the older guys gave him any kind of recognition or praise his life may have been different.
Throughout the film I enjoyed the fact that when Rocket is telling a different story he always sub-titles it, or announces it. It gives us, as an audience, an interaction with Rocket and feel as though we truly are being told a story.
I enjoyed the twists and turns throughout the film, like the transformation of Benny and how when he is killed, as an audience you really feel it and you can for once sympathize for Little Ze. It also set a path for the rest of the film and you see what Little Ze can really do when there is no-one to keep him sane. I think this was needed within in the film as in the City of God there are few ‘happy endings’ and it sets the pace for the rest of the film. There is now nothing to stand in the way of Little Ze and Carrot, which then creates another turn.
I really like the fact that they used real people from a near by Favela to act in this movie, and how many of them couldn’t read so a lot of it was improvised, I think that gives this film a slight ethical edge for one of the many reasons as to why it’s great.
The ending of this film is great as it is both happy but unresolved we see the unveiling of the corruption of the police and gang leaders, gang warfare, the circle of justice, Rocket as a photographer and the circular pattern of how the little boys at the end say that they’re going to create a ‘kill list’ and its basically how Little Ze and Benny started out, when they were kids. It’s as though, once one gang leader/ gang is gotten rid of, another comes to take its place.
To sum up this brief, what I would call very loosely a ‘review’; I really enjoyed The City of God and no doubt I will add to this later when another theme or part becomes very clear to me, however I think this film fully encapsulates the favela atmosphere, it is full of twists and turns and although it is full of violence, drugs and guns, it is very easy to watch as Rocket guides you through his experiences with ease and Meirelles has used wonderful cinematography and editing to create an incredibly power film.