While cinema in Hollywood and the western countries falls at a non-imaginable speed, the global cinema in other countries such as Mexico, Iran, China and Brazil rises. “City of God” in a big surprise comes out of Brazil, a country that had never released a major feature film. This time and this film is not about poverty, children and war torn lands, but about all of these and more. Ironically the city of God is not a religious city running by God or his representatives, but it is a slum outskirt of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, far away from the postal card beauty of its beaches. In the city of God, poverty, guns, violence and drug lords and ruthless gangs rule. In the city of God worse than the war torn lands of Africa and middle east, the children are armed and dangerous, so “If you run the beast catches you, if you stay the beast eats you”.
Directed by Fernando Meirelles who started filmmaking in late 80s with not much success internationally, City of God brought global attention to him so that three years later in 2005 was hired by producers in England, US and Germany to make “The Constant Gardner” with a full English and American cast. The film’s opening symbolically and at the same time realistically introduces the City of God to the audience by showing a large blade is sharpened on a stone to slain chickens. The frightened look of a chicken witnessing the slain of his fellow chickens and being dipped in hot water is smartly amazing. The scared chicken manages to escape and a bunch of boys carrying guns in their hands chase to catch the her on the streets. The boys start shooting at the poor chicken and ask the passer byes to catch her with no reservation to shoot at whoever does not obey their demand. The chicken finally stops between the gang and a young normal boy, Rocket (Alexandre Rodrigues) while all the guns are aimed at him to catch the chicken or will be shot at. Rocket then starts narrating the story of his neighborhood and that his family like many others escaped the expensive Rio to live there in peace.
City of God: Ruled by Devil:
The film flashes back to how things started with the “Tender Tri”, three petit thieves, Shaggy (Jonathan Haagensen), Clipper (Jefechander Suplino), and Rocket’s older brother, Goose (Renato de Souza) robbing trucks and share the money with the community who, in turn, hid them from the police. A young boy, Li’l Dice (Douglas Silva) who tries to be part of the gang and smarter than the trio, convinces them to hold up a motel and rob its occupants that earn them more money than robbing trucks. While the trio plans not to kill anyone but rob the occupants, Li’l Dice who lies that the police is coming and forcing them to flee in a stolen car, goes in the motel after they leave and massacre everyone even the employees of the motel ruthlessly. The gang split, Shaggy runs away home and Goose and Clipper hides in the woods. Two detectives who follow them into the woods, one suggests to the other to keep the stolen money for themselves when they arrest the gang. Here the film shows both sides being, but one on the law side and the others outlaws.
The massacre changes the trio’s lives, Clipper scared of the police decides to leave the gang life and joins the church, Shaggy is shot by the police while trying to escape and Goose is shot by Li’l Dice after taking his money. The day Shaggy died and while on the ground his picture was taken by the reporters, Rocket for the first time sees a camera and decides to buy one and starting photography. One day on the beach with his friends, taking photos, his eyes fall on the beautiful Angelica (Alice Braga) and falls in love with her. The beautiful camera shots with angles, close ups and panoramic. To please Angelica, Rocket would do anything and go anywhere including going to the drug dealers and get her some.
Entering the apartment of the drug dealer, Blacky (Leandro Firmino da Hora) to buy Angelica some coke, Rocket tells the story of the apartment where was a base of drug trafficking in the city of God. Dona Zelica when her husband, a drug dealer dies runs the business herself to feed her children and employs the neighborhood kids. Soon the best of these delaer kids, Carrot (Matheus Nachtergaele) takes over the operation and later on finds the place ill fated, he passes it on to Blacky. Then Li’l Dice who has been popular as ruthless robber and killer and extensively frightened, by encouragement of his friend Benny ((Phellipe Haagensen) that drugs are more profitable kills Blacky and takes over hhis business and calls himself Lil’ Z. Here the film flashes back in narration, showing how Lil’ Z startedas a young boy with the shooting massacre of the motel years back. He narrates that he killed everyone in the motel even the employees just for fun as he thought his pals had all the fun of the robbery and he had none. He was thrilled by the killing one by one that the film shows graphically. Rocekt, the narrator tells that he fled the city of God to avoid punishment and started working hard for his money and quit misconduct for a while, but as “A hood doesn’t stop, hood takes a break”, when one day Shaggy finds him and takes his earned money, he shoots and kills him and gets back to his killings then drug business. By age 18 Lil’ Z becomes the most popular, respected and feared of hood around, even in Rio.
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