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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