“The day I was born I was born free and that is my Privilege.”


Cual es Cidade de Deus?

Reconstructing my notion of the City of God as relating to mythology, there exists in a suburb Jacarepagua in the West Zone in the city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Cidade de Deus, the hearth of the new Hadeses and Zeuses. Building it was the state government of Guanabara’s way of systematically removing all the slums or favelas, as they called it, in the country’s capital.

Perry Seibert says, “Fernando Meirelles‘ City of God is a sweeping tale of how crime affects the poor population of Rio de Janeiro. Though, the narrative skips around in time, the main focus is on Cabeleira who formed a gang called the Tender Trio. He and his best friend, Bené (Phelipe Haagensen), become crime lords over the course of a decade. When Bené is killed before he can retire, Lil’ Zé attempts to take out his arch enemy, Sandro Cenoura (Matheus Nachtergaele). But Sandro and a young gangster named Mane form an alliance and begin a gang war with Lil’ Zé. Amateur photographer Buscape (Alexandre Rodrigues) takes pictures of the brutal crime war, making their story famous.”

What struck me watching this film is the young Lil Ze’s thirst of killing, murdering people in the motel that his gang robbed, ie., the naked couple, the man calming his partner after one of the Tender Trio’s ransacked their room of glory; and the motel wait staffs including a kitchen helper tied like the next chicken to be slaughtered.

Bene, on the other hand, is likened to Sweeney Todd’s Mrs. Lovett played by Helena Bonham Carter, a character which the audience sympathized with but one cannot fathom how the evil in them surged out in performing their piece of artwork to satisfy their partner. Thus, we can see Mrs. Lovett transformed her basement into a murdered man’s bin while Bene laughed with Lil Ze as the former rattled his gun on a man’s flesh.

I was tired watching the seemingly unending war between the two street gangs. It is as if Vesuvius was casting its spell on the Cidade de Deus, celebrating the death of Pompeii.

Lil Ze offers a comedic act on expressing his desire of having his gang’s pictures to be printed on the paper. I enjoyed watching them pose while showing their unlikely weakness. In this scene, Buscape is Zeus.

I agreed with my friend that cinematography is superb especially at the beginning with the chicken chase.

What if this story is told on the chicken’s point of view? Just thinking. 😀

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