City of God Study Guide
Cidade De Dios
(City of God) (2002)
Bráulio Mantovani (screenplay)
City of God was originally the
title of a book written by Paulo Lins. Lins grew up in the favela named Cidade
de Deus, from which the movie takes its name. Lins' novel portrays his real
life experience growing up in the favela, which is still in existence today. It
is a housing project that was started in the ‘60s, under good intentions, which
quickly fell apart as the state failed to offer enough police support. The
population in Cidade de Deus and other favelas got poorer, offering less
opportunity to get out, let alone survive. Soon after, many of these favelas
were laid claim to by drug lords who had free reign and where the law of the
land resided with the toughest drug lords harboring the best arsenals. In fact,
Meirelles opted to shoot the film in other favelas surrounding Rio de Janeiro
because it was too dangerous to shoot in the City of God.
the historical context surrounding this film, what kind of political statement
does the film make?
and Lund use a mode of story telling which subverts the chronology at
some points in order to tell parallel and intersecting stories. They also
employ the strategy of using voice-over narration by having Rocket tell the
story instead of letting it unfold without internal commentary.
does this form of story telling affect our viewing of the film?
is a realism in the way in which many of the scenes of City of God were filmed that is disturbing in ways that other films
depicting fictional violence are not always able to portray. At the same time
the film provides a sense of realism, there is also something about it that is
very polished, almost “Hollywood-esque”.
is Meirelles able to achieve the realism felt in this film?
does the “Hollywood-esque” production of the film affect our viewing of it?
City of God is especially
interesting in that Meirelles cast actors, primarily, who had no acting experience. With a couple of exceptions the entire cast of the film were boys, young
men and women who lived or had lived in favelas around Rio, some even coming
from the City of God itself.
do you think Meirelles wanted to fill his film with unknown, non-actors?
were these cast members able to bring to the film that professional actors, and especially well-known actors,
may not have been able to?
back to what we’ve learned about ideology and film from the textbook and
class, what kind of ideological stance do you think this film presents? What
clues are you given? What doesn’t the film talk about?
is the significance of the first scene of the movie with the chicken getting
away from the slaughter and running through the streets?
is significant about the story of Knock-Out Ned and the boy who joins Carrot’s
is significant about the final scene of the film, with the “Runts”?
Interview with director - http://movies.ign.com/articles/372/372902p1.html