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Cidade De Deus: The "Other" Rio

2297 words - 9 pages

A chicken is being plucked, skinned and butchered for dinner, the children and adults are laughing and playing and singing and dancing, and no one would ever guess what is to come. As a viewer I never imagined that after this opening scene would come murder, drugs, lawlessness, rape, more murder and violence and I would have never ever guess that it would all be grounded in truth. However, the truth is that Cidade de Deus (City of God) is based on the true story of Paulo Lins’ life in the slum outside Rio de Janerio, Brazil. It provides an important look into life in the slums where individuals left homeless in the city were forced to go. The movie provides an important and unique narrative about an area that-according to an article on the website, dialogues, proposals and stories for global citizenship- is home to “almost 50 thousand inhabitants”
Although that same article claims that “the success of the film City of God portrayed the district in the media spotlight in such a way as to reinforce the stigma of a violent and dangerous community,” I would argue that this film provides a historical narrative that is worth watching more than once. Although this film does not provide a perfect view of the Cidade de Deus in the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s it is certainly a start that most people would agree is necessary for the world to see. A review by the New York Times (2002) states that the film, “is the latest and one of the most powerful in a recent spate of movies that remind us that the civilized society we take for grated is actually a

Hardy 2
luxury.” This film, although not perfect, certainly provides a necessary and appropriate history of the City of God.
Cidade de Deus tells the true story of a young boy named Rocket and they way in which he manages to escape of the “hood” life and fulfill his dream of becoming a photographer. We learn about Rocket starting in the 1960’s when is a young boy of about 7 or 8 (the movie does not clearly specify) and we follow him for the next 3 decades as we see the ins and outs of his life in the one of Rio de Janerio’s favelas. At first watch one could take the movie as projecting and creating stereotypes of the slums in Brazil, however upon more careful consideration and research it’s easy to see that was is projected in the movie is real. Although the movie was not actually filmed in the real City of God, according to the London Observer the movie was filmed in another “shantytown” on the northern outskirts of Rio de Janerio named Cidade Alta that has a number of the same social and political issues. The Observer says, “Until recently Cidade Alta was best known for its fictional violence. It was here, amid the sprawling mishmash of tower blocks and breezeblock shacks, that the Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles shot much of his Oscar-nominated film City of God, a tour through the violent underbelly of gangland Rio.”
I would argue that this movie manages to portray actuality rather than...

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