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City Of God Film Review

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City of God Movie
City of God movie traces the decline of Cidade De Deus, a housing project on the outskirts of Rio that was constructed in the 1960s that is left to wallow in crime, poverty and drugs. The movie depicts the social issues that face major urban cities. The most dominant social theme in this film is the state of urban slums and the physical environment. The film shows how Cidade De Deus changed from a rather pleasant shantytown to a hostile slum. In retrospect, the Brazilian slums sprung up during industrialization when workers in the country settled outside the city due to the absence of affordable housing. These workers settled on spots they could find some space, and they later settled there permanently since the developments generated wealth for a few people who were already wealthy.

Rio’s slums, also known as Favelas are the world’s most popular slums. The number of individuals living in Rio’s favelas has kept rising over the years. Currently, about 22% of Rio’s population lives in these slums. In perspective, Rio’s Favelas have a population of over six million people (Diken 308). According to the UN, about one-third of urban inhabitants live in slums and this number is expected to increase rapidly by the year 2030 considering the high rate of urbanization. Poor planning by the government led to the expansion of the housing project into a slum with squeezed shanties to accommodate the ever-growing population as shown in the film. Multiple shots taken of the favela from different angles in the film show a vast network of shanties housing the large population.

The City of God depicts the reality of slum life as it makes viewers encounter the desperation, urban crimes and youth gangs, and poverty. As the movie ends, one is relieved to leave the sad state of slum life behind, but the social issues covered in the film are stuck in the viewer’s mind for a period, as these issues were never fully resolved. The movie starts as the main characters were children and petty thieves residing in a new housing project, and the movie ends as most characters are dead and the slum is war-marred. Brazil records the highest rate of slum dwellers due to the rapid urbanization that has been occurring (Overman et al., 400).

Brazil’s economy is among the top ten of the wealthiest economies in the world. Brazil’s GDP has been steadily growing by 7.5% annually. Interestingly, as the economy in Brazil grows, more shantytowns emerge. In short, this economy growth is just generating additional wealth for the already wealthy. The film is narrated by an ambitious young lad who aims to be a photographer, and it centers on slum life, crimes and the battles between rival gangs.
The City of God slum in itself is a main feature of the movie as it shows the effects of unplanned urbanization in the midst of a growing population. During the 1960s part, the Favela is shown as a housing project covered in a golden light where happy children are playing football in open areas. As the movie progresses, the favela transforms taking a grey and dark theme, meant to signify the social injustices present in the slum (Magliano et al., 534). Urbanization in Brazil occurs at the expense of urban services. Lack of affordable housing and affordable land led to the expansion of the housing project through the construction of small-sized houses that were squeezed in the available spaces. A view of the favela from the top of the hill shows small shanties that are close to the housing projects. The majority of individuals who live in the slum are not connected to a drainage and sewerage system (Overman et al., 400). It is evident from the movie as various picture angles show numerous dumping sites in the slum, and the characters walking over along blocked drainage systems. Favelas are seen as eyesores, and that is why Rocket decides to tell the real story of these slums through photography. Interestingly, the City of God slum is situated behind Copacabana, one the world’s most famous beaches. The disconnection of two locations adjacent to each other is an indication of the oppressive confinement the slum has sentenced its dwellers. There exists a virtual barrier that separates the favela and Rio’s main streets. The director of the film City of God Fernando Meirelles concentrates on the life in the favelas choosing to ignore the beautiful landscape around the slum. The few glimpses of the surrounding beautiful physical environment are short-lived as one is compelled to concentrate on the favelas. Additionally, favela dwellers are not comfortable in leaving the slums or trying out things that are associated with the outside world (Diken 311). For example, when Benny wears designer clothes and a different hairstyle, his gang members acknowledge that he looks different and weird to them.

The violent depiction of the Cidade De Deus slum is quite clear by the crimes and gang wars that are spread out in the movie. Slums, such as Cidade De Deus shows how lives are wasted in informal communities where opportunities for the young people are limited (Diken 311). Lack of opportunities can be attributed to inadequate planning of the available resources. Youths residing in areas such as the favela, view crime and youth gangs as the only alternative to the lives they desire. Life expectancy for people who engage in crime is only twenty five years in the favelas (Diken 312). City of God movie has crimes which signify urban realities that are based on “taken for granted” mentality by slum dwellers caused by rapacious capitalism. For example, children recruits begin with stealing and burgling which transforms to killing, extortion, and gang warfare. In one of the violent scenes, a young boy of about ten years is ordered to execute a member of an enemy gang who had been cornered. These acts of crime and gang warfare in a collapsing society represent the law and disorder present where even the police are part of social injustices.

The City of God demonstrates lack of a social and economic mobility in the slums through the high rates of poverty. The slim chances, narrow minds, and limited choices are all representations of the social and economic stagnancy in this society (Magliano 539). Poverty in the favela is mostly attributed to poor social habits, and not to inadequate resources. The movie follows the lives of the characters as they move from one trouble to the next showing how they make decisions related to their crimes and gangs.

In conclusion, the City of God is a film that depicts the life in Brazil’s most famous favelas. Through the voice of Rocket, the viewer’s understand the character’s predicaments as they negotiate through their lives in different time frames. It is extremely challenging to make a life of crime as a young person in the favelas and live beyond the life expectancy of twenty-five years. A key aspect of understanding the inequalities in Brazil starts with comprehending the high rate of urbanization and a rapidly growing population. The majority of social issues depicted in the film represent various planning inadequacies present in the society. Favelas are cultural icons of Rio and they are famous just like the statue of Jesus Christ on Corcovado Mountain.

Works Cited
Diken, Bülent. “City of God.” City 9.3 (2005): 307-320.
Magliano, Joseph P., Jason Miller, and Rolf A. Zwaan. “Indexing space and time in film understanding.” Applied Cognitive Psychology 15.5 (2001): 533-545.
Muir, Stephanie, and Fernando Meirelles. Studying city of god. Auteur, 2008.
Overman, Henry G., and Anthony J. Venables. Cities in the developing world. Centre for Economic Performance, London School of Economics and Political Science, 2005.

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