Someone bought me the City of God DVD for my birthday because they thought I would love it, 7 months later (seriously, what is wrong with me?) I finally got round to watching it and found that they were absolutely right. This film is INSANELY incredible, and so, without further ado – except for a spoiler alert – here are some reasons why.
- It’s based on real events –
The film’s events span two decades (60s-80s) and follows, predominantly, the lives of ‘Rocket’ and ‘Lil Zé’ within the City of God, a slum in Rio. Though they come from the same place, the paths they each take are very different. Rocket, the central character and narrator, dreams of becoming a photographer and, more often than not, manages to steer clear of trouble. Lil Zé, however, creates it. His goal is to create a drug empire within the City of God by eliminating his competition. When Lil Zé’s friend, Benny, is accidentally killed by a rival, a drug war ensues. The violence begins spiralling out of control, to the extent that many forget why it even began in the first place. Through Rocket’s perspective, we get to see the reality of issues that might otherwise be ignored, or perhaps even demonised, by media.
- The characters are not perfect –
None of the characters are entirely pure, but neither are they entirely evil. Yes, I know Zé is quite clearly a sociopath, but in many ways he’s not that different to the other characters. It’s likely that the violence stems as much from frustration towards their situation, as it does from the anger they have against each other. Many of them express the desire to move away (Benny and Angelica) or to find a job (Rocket) in order to escape the slum. Where that’s not possible, the next best thing is security, or at least the illusion of it. In a fractured society, that can be found with whoever holds the most power: Lil Zé or Carrot, the corrupt dictators. The fact that many of the characters are likeable makes them more relatable, and makes you think on what you would do if you were in their situation. What’s more, lots of the actors actually come from the real life City of God, and a lot of what they say is improvised, enhancing the authenticity.
- Technically, it’s brilliant –
The storyline, the camera angles, the sets, the characters, the music, EVERYTHING. I swear this film had me feeling every emotion. And I can honestly state that I have never seen a film with such a clever plot; think Quentin Tarantino style. It all begins at the end, with a runaway chicken, which sounds ridiculous, but it’s seriously gripping. You’re constantly wondering what’s going to happen next, or how on earth each character’s story can possibly be related to any other.