Why it’s famous:
City of God, or Cidade de Deus, is a gripping novel that was brought to life on the silver screen by director Fernando Meirelles in 2002. It was praised for its organic portrayal of the grim circumstances in Rio de Janeiro, yet also depicting the subtle beauty of the slum. The movie takes you on a high speed rollercoaster of gangs, violence, drugs, money, hope, death and the struggle with identity in the beaten down slums of Rio de Janeiro.
Why you haven’t seen it:
Although critics had great things to say about the movie, it didn’t reach a very wide audience due to the fact that it doesn’t have any well-known actors, as much of the cast had never acted before shooting City of God. The movie is also completely in Portuguese, and having to read subtitles at the movies is not necessarily something everyone enjoys.
Why it might be tough to get through:
Since it’s a crime drama, you’ll witness a lot of bloodshed and some brutal gang violence that can be intense and hard to handle. There are also a lot of heartbreaking injustices that take place in the rough neighbourhood, which can be upsetting and difficult to watch.
Why you should watch it anyways:
It’s an inspiring film that has received critical acclaim and been nominated for numerous awards, including four Academy Awards. Many students, who are trying to figure things out in their own lives, should be able to relate to the character and narrator Rocket, or “Buscapé”, played by Alexandre Rodrigues, who sees the hopelessness around him and tries to figure out where he fits into it. Rocket attempts to break through the barriers that come with his situation and rise above it to pursue his dream, without succumbing to the gang life that many of his peers get involved with.
Sandro Cenoura: “Have you lost your mind? You are just a kid!”
Filé-com-Fritas (Steak and Fries): “A kid? I smoke, I snort. I’ve killed and robbed. I’m a man.”
Rocket: “You need more than guts to be a good gangster. You need ideas.”
Barbantinho Adulto (Older Stringy): “Why return to the City of God, where God forgets about you?”
The main cast was from actual real-life favelas (slums in Brazil) and some were even from the actual Cidade de Deus itself. The director placed the actors in an actor’s workshop for months to train them on how to act in front of a camera.
The novel City of God written by Paulo Lins, was loosely based on a true story.
Although the director wanted to film in the actual Cidade de Deus they were unable to because it was too dangerous, and had to film in a neighbouring area.
The tagline is “If you run, the beast catches you; if you stay, the beast eats you,” a proverb similar to the English “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”