Film Analysis: City Of God

2844 words - 12 pages

City of God is an action-packed, drama-filled, Brazilian crime film that follows the lives of several young men whose lives all take a drastic turn as the city they once knew falls to drugs, crime, violence and corruption. In my essay I will focus on three young men in particular who all seemed to be consumed by the chaos that surrounds them. Through a series of hard hitting edits, sharp camera cuts, intense imagery and vivid storytelling, the film comes to life to portray the reality of life in the slums of Rio de Janeiro, and also helps to develop each characters persona.
The film’s opening sequence commences with an extreme close-up shot of what seems to be a very sharp blade scraping ...view middle of the document...

Another chicken, already dead of course, is shown getting its guts removed and that seemed to be the moment that triggered the other live chicken to free itself from the strings that once shackled it down. It looks over a ledge and jumps over, and then a close-up shot of a plate drenched in blood is shown, and all of the sudden the music stops. This dramatic sequence to me implied that there is no escape in the city of god, it’s either kill, or be killed. The chicken slyly tries to make an escape but is quickly spotted by some local gangsters who begin to pursue it. They were openly carrying their guns on them which signified that they were in a community that was separate from the law or that they thought they were the law. Crosscuts were used between the pursuit of the chicken by the gang and of a young adult—who would later be known as Rocket—talking to his friend about photography. As the pace of the pursuit begins to pick up so do the camera cuts. Many action shots and point-of-view shots come into view showing that this is indeed a hostile environment. As the gang leader (Lil Z’) is chasing the chicken someone gets in his way, he pushes the person down and then pulls his gun out on him. An over the shoulder high angle shot is shown as Lil Z’ points his gun down on the victim, showing his dominance and fearlessness and also showing that he is someone that is not to be messed with in the slums.
As the scene comes to an end the chicken reaches the middle of a road with the gang lined up on one side and Rocket on the other, and in a way this setup represented the line between good and evil. Lil Z’ was with a group of people, whereas Rocket was on his own—not to many good guys. The camera does a circling shot showing Rocket’s surroundings and the diegetic sound of his heart beating begins to intensify. He finds himself caught between two armed lines: the gang on one side and the cops on the other, all with their guns pointed at him making it seem like he was at fault here. The camera whirls once more around Rocket, as he shrinks from a teenager into a young boy playing soccer near a housing development outside Rio. The whirling camera shot along with the flashback and the change in colors from dark to light let the audience know that this is a visually alive and intense film.
In the City of God many people find themselves at a crossroads between wanting to do the right thing versus going with the crowd, and knowing very well that this being a city that’ll make or break you many end up choosing the latter half anyways. Rocket being one of those conflicted characters, tries to find a way out of the ghetto as he aspires to be a photographer. In the midst of all the killings and corruption going on in the city of god, Rocket seems to be the only bright spot, figuratively and literally. Early on in the film after the Tender Trio robs the gas truck, Rocket and his friend are shown swimming in lake. A beautiful establishing shot of the water and...

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