'City of God' (2002) Represents Violence and Poverty as 'Spectacle'.

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Some scholars criticise Cidade de Deus / City of God (2002) on the grounds that the film represents violence and poverty as a ‘spectacle’ and fails to relate these issues to the wider socio-political context of contemporary Brazil. Is this criticism justified?

‘There are…two kinds of film makers: one invents an imaginary reality; the other confronts an existing reality and attempts to understand it, criticise it…and finally, translate it into film’

Fernando Biri, 1979[1]

Fernando Meirelles’s City of God (2002) has provoked critical discussion concerning its representation of the Brazilian working class since its release[2]. The film has been described as both disturbing and electrifying for its brutal realism and inspired
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The spectator is thrown into the reckless and expeditious world of the characters, creating a sense of hedonistic abandon and excitement. The chase leads to the first of the dramatic scenes within City of God. A heavily armed stand-off between Lil’ Zé’s gang, and the police ensues and we are introduced to Rocket who is caught between the two. It is here that the shot rotates 360 degrees, spinning us into the past, leaving the spectator keen to understand more. It is this exhilarating sequence of editing and camera work that has led some viewers to brand the film an indulgent exhibition of romanticized ghetto life. However, the producers of the film claim that the effects are present in order to assist the telling of a universally human story and are intended to capture its realism[9]. Kátia Lund commented on the rotation shot and remarked that “the critics would say this is a film from Hollywood, they’re doing The Matrix, these fancy shots. And the cost of the shot was...$20. Just a guy pulling a dolly”[10].

There are three central sections within the film. Although they are consistent in character and often in circumstance, they should be seen as separate narratives. Each narrative represents the changing nature of the favela over a decade and contains its own visual style and mise-en-scene. It is through this structure that I

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