Life shows no mercy for the weak. Cognizance about everythin has become mandatory to survive. Get a piece of everythin that life has in the offering ! i share all that i know to help others know what i know. we stay together , we survive. welcome to candor corner. know. share. survive. always with candor, Praveen Chandar

Tuesday, August 28, 2007



RELEASE DATE : August 2002

DIRECTOR : Fernando Meirelles

If you're unlucky to be born into a socially, economically and racially isolated
community that has poverty, crime, drugs and violence as its everyday realities,
the odds are stacked incredibly high against you. It literally takes so much
effort, strength, struggle and plain ol' good fortune to simply avoid becoming a
, let alone do anything more with life. Most who find themselves in the
situation described above never even enter this fight and out of those that do -
only the rare ones succeed. "City of God" depicts this conundrum masterfully !

Most Latin American film-makers can't stand slick Hollywood formulas. But two of
the best Latin movies that played well in the U.S. and Europe benefit from at least one
Tinseltown trick: good timing. Brazilian co-directors Fernando Meirelles and Ka
Lund's City of God
, the brutally realistic saga of a Rio de Janeiro favela, or
slum, got a big publicity boost after it opened last summer, when real drug gangs
swept out of Rio's favelas and briefly shut down posh neighborhoods like
Copacabana. And Mexican director Carlos Carrera's The Crime of Father Amaro, the
taboo-busting story of a Roman Catholic priest who impregnates an adoring teen-age
girl, hit theaters during the throes of last year's clerical sexual abuse scandals.

Unlike how it is done in the conventional Hollywood style, with the good Vs the bad, or the usual style-over-substance grounding to a relatively superficial plot, 'Cidade De Deus' uses a rather groteque palette of bucolic colors, smeared with gore and delirium, presented as real as 'real' could get. Though the screenplay (the chapter formula) reminds us of the same adopted by Quentin Tarantino in Pulp Fiction or his later Kill Bill, 'Cidade De Deus' packs its own flavor that is very much characteristic of the city 'Rio De Janeiro' from which the director hails, that includes the commendable brazilian score, and the deft cinematography transports you to the world he tries to depict. 'CIDADE DE DEUS' does not give any opinion about the state of anarchy extant in the city expicitly, nor does it preach non-violence or morality or of non-depravity, it just tells you : " This is all what happened in the town until a few weeks back, well, I guess you can see where they're heading " . The film is technically taut, engrossingly depicted, mercilessly true, and rivetingly fabricated to leave an indelible mark about man and the peril that befriends his avarice, its easily one of the best told stories of our time.


The film, directed by Fernando Meirelles, tells the story of life in the slums of Rio de Janeiro, in an area known as the Cidade De Deus, the City of God. The story is told from the narration of the young photographer, Rocket. The different scenarios of life that make up the wider-story are presented in Pulp Fiction style chapters, complete with on-screen titles for each different story component. The story covers all the facets of the life, charting the growth of several key members of the gangs from childhood through to young adulthood, with their transformation from young hoodlums to local drugs barons. The final parts of the story focus on the battle within the Cidade De Deus between two different groups, when business and personal matters lead to an unavoidable confrontation. And what a confrontation it is, although details will not be given away here. The result is a powerful telling of life based around real-life events.

Martin Scorsese seems to have a heavy influence on the direction of this picture, with many moments looking familiar to fans of the legendary American filmmaker. Close ups, sweeping scene shots, freeze-and-zoom shots, and a frenzied handheld approach are all trademarks that will be recognisably traceable to Scorsese, having been used throughout his career. Many shots remind the viewer of Scorsese's narrative dialogue-camera relationship in Goodfellas, in which the camera was used to brilliant effect to highlight the main points in the script. This technique is used heavily in the first twenty minutes of Cidade De Deus, with the freeze frame trick being used to introduce the story's main characters alongside the dialogue of narrator, Rocket.
Throughout the film one cannot help but watch a scene and think, 'I've seen that in Raging Bull, Goodfellas, or Casino', and this may make some look less favourably on the film's direction. However, it is not fair to consider this 'a Brazilian Goodfellas'. The story has parallels - the underlying ideas of gangsters, drugs and violence -, the direction is similar, and the story is told with narration, much like Ray Liotta's role in Scorsese's epic. But to regard this film in terms of what styles it repeats or nods it's hat to, is to be very ignorant. Fernando Meirelles, has done a wonderfully hypnotic job of blending the old styles, and bringing them up to date with flashy and sometimes dangerously kinetic direction and editing. Look only to the leaving-party scene in which strobe lighting is used to extraordinary effect, almost suffocating the story below a bombardment on the visual senses. Think of a crossover between the visual energy of the Matrix and the violence of the club scene in Bad Boys.

Stylistically, the camera work does not conform to its premise as a gangster film.
A gangster film never looked this good. It is as if the camera is released in the
wide open beaches, and kicked around like one of Ronaldinho's headers. It starts on
the sand and moves steadily across. It picks up on the story but then heads into
the sun. It then leaves us, the film-viewer, with the most indelible image in years
as we see Sonia Braga (A world icon and sex symbol of Brazil)'s niece, sitting on
the sun-drenched coast putting her arm around another young boy. The innocence
conveyed in this scene is something to behold. It literally takes your breath away.

Cidade De Deus is much more than a directorial assault on the senses. Many flashy Hollywood films have fallen short in using 'ultra-modern' direction to disguise the fact that no substantial story exists underneath. Cidade De Deus is most brilliant in that it combines directorial and editorial brilliance with a story that is almost second to none in recent times. Only the true greats manage to cater to these two needs of cinema, and this is one that does. The direction is amazing, but not to disguise the story flaws, and the story is brilliant, but does not overwhelm directorial originality. But simply, Cidade De Deus is a perfect film for avid fans of cinematography, and those just in search of two hours of a bloody good story.

I cannot decide yet if I would consider this better than Amores Perros, but it is certainly not inferior. The at-the-same-time stylish and brutal visuals of Amores Perros are replaced by a grittier, more hands on approach to the subject. Whilst in Amores Perros the characters took precedent, in Cidade De Deus the location is as big a character as those who live there. As a result we get a much greater feeling of the environment in which the characters exist, and so it is perhaps easier to empathise, and/or sympathise with them. Amores Perros triumphs in creating relationships between the audience and the characters, as it concentrates for a long time on relatively few people, each of whom we grow to know and ultimately care about, which is important for the emotional impact of the film. Cidade De Deus deals with dozens, even hundreds, of characters, and so it is only a minority that we become attached to. This means that while the film leaves a lasting impact we are not left with the same inquisitiveness about the future for the characters that we meet in Amores Perros. Both films leave open ends, but Cidade De Deus feels closed. Whether you consider this a good or bad thing is a matter for personal choice.

You see the slamming of different, competing themes. You see the subtlety and tranquility of the beach, smashed into scenes of battered youths dying on city streets. You see a wealth of hypnotic ambiguous images pulled together, much like the very Culture of Brazil itself.

Cidade De Deus is essential viewing, and is cinema at its most zenith. It will of course feel the wrath of critics who will dwell on the almost unimaginably high body count, but there are always those who will reject violence in the movies. In fact the violence in Cidade De Deus, even the apocalyptic ending, is not as raw and bloody as many will expect. Blood spilling is a rare sight, and the violence rests mostly, but not always, on choreography rather than in your face bloodshed. The result is violence, but it is often so artistic that it looks beautiful rather than deterring. Like Scorsese's Taxi Driver the violence is abhorrent, but admirable from a cinematic perspective.


SOURCE : The Hollywood Reporter, Time (Jan 2003 issue), CNN, The Week (Article : Brazen Brazil on film) , and The Making of CIDADE DE DEUS DVD.

> Fernando Meirelles wanted the cast to be made of people who had never acted before,
and professional actors who were not widely known. One such actor was Matheus
Nachtergaele whom Meirelles had seen in a play. But while Meirelles was working on
the script, Nachtergaele suddenly became a huge star in Brazil after starring in
the hit film Auto da Compadecida, O (2000). Meirelles was a little disappointed at
first but Nachtergaele promised him that he would disappear into the role of Sandro
Cenoura so completely that his stardom would not distract from the film.
Nachtergaele moved to the real Cidade de Deus where most of the cast lived and
lived there for three months to prepare for the role.

> In the DVD commentary track, director Fernando Meirelles reveals that the shot in
which we see Alicate, Cabeleira and Marreco through the bumper of the gas truck is
a homage/spoof of the TV series "Charlie's Angels" (1976) (the three boys are seen
holding their guns pointing to different ways).

> When Knockout Ned ('Mané Galinha' in the Brazilian original) kills someone for the
first time, some people who live in the City of God approach him and congratulate
him for the killing. The first woman to talk to him was played by the mother of the
real Knockout Ned.

> All of the amateur actors were recruited from favelas (slums) in Rio de Janeiro,
and a couple of them - eg. Buscapé/Rocket (Alexandre Rodrigues) - actually lived in
the Cidade de Deus (City of God) itself.

> In order to increase the tension between Dadinho and Marreco, acting coach Fátima
Toledo told teenager Renato de Souza (Marreco) to bully the kid Douglas Silva
(Dadinho) for 15 days. In the scene where Marreco slaps Dadinho, Douglas Silva
started crying and threatened to abandon the movie, so the angry look he gives to
Marreco in the movie is real.

> There's a scene in which the young Buscapé (Luis Otávio) laughs at his brother
Marreco (Renato de Souza) after the latter is slapped by their father. The laughter
was not scripted, but Luis Otávio couldn't stop it. So Renato de Souza improvised,
telling his young brother "not to laugh at him".

> The scene where the gang prays before the war was not scripted. During the shooting
a young boy, who used to be on a real gang, asked director Fernando Meirelles if
the group was not going to pray like they always did before any important
confrontation with the enemies. Meirelles told him to lead the prayer as they shot
the scene.

> The shot where we see a lot of dead bodies lying on huge blocks of concrete was
recreated from an award-winning photograph taken during the drug war portrayed in
the movie.

> The last shot of the movie, where the little boy loses his slipper and comes back
to pick it, was not scripted. The incident really happened during the shooting and
director Fernando Meirelles kept the take because it helped to highlight the boy's

> At the end the Runts (Caixa Baixa gang) talk about making a list of people they
want to kill. The rat boys grew to become the now feared CV (Comando Vermelho) or
Red Command, the most notorious gang in Rio. The CV is also known to have a death

> The character of Buscapé was based on a composite of Paulo Lins the author of the
book "Cidade de Deus" and a childhood friend of his who dreamed of becoming a
always with candor,
Praveen Chandar.