Cidade de Deus


Grillions of people told me to watch this movie, Cidade de Deus, and while the plot didn’t do much for me [Brazilian Boyz in the Hood], the technical skill of the film was definitely impressive in a few ways. Structured in journalistic vignettes, the film tells us about Cidade de Deus [Rio’s Trenchtown] by charting the rise and fall of its various inhabitants.

The film is very violent. In some senses it glorifies violence. The narrator is a gentle soul, who wants to mind his own business and has trouble getting laid, and as he tells the story of Cidade de Deus we can’t help but absorb some of his fascination and respect for the strength and ruthlessness of the hoods of the slum. You can sense at some level that the narrator wishes he had the cojones to be a hood and shoot a gun. He settles for shooting with a camera. Cidade de Deus develops from a dusty peripheral project with minor “try to get ahead” crime into an urban warzone with organized crime engaged in turf wars. All stuff that has been done before.


Most impressive technically were the abilities of the director, cinematographer and actors to incorporate subtle but important action, only caught in glimpses, into fierce violent sequences. So when the camera is jerking around all crazy-like while people are wrestling on the floor, out of the corner of our eye we see someone grab a knife from a drawer and head outside. Or when a security guard gets killed we get a look at the face of his killer’s killer. The logistics of that had to be killer. Heh.

Pretty good, but not mind-blowing. But I’m impossible to please.

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