Brazilian Film – City Of God (2002) – Review


Picking a Brazilian film to show off a different side to Brazil – step up City of God (2002)


City of God – (2002)

Directed by Fernando Meirelles and Katia Lund

Starring Alexandre Rodrigues, Leandro Firmino and Phellipe Haagensen.

A film nominated for 4 Oscars. – For a foreign language film that is great.


Film Review


A story of two people who grew up in a violent neighbourhood in Rio and how they progress into two different lives.  One started hanging around with the “Tender Trio” and developed to be a drug dealer, while the other grew to be a photographer.

The Tender Trio starts the story off – showing how both main characters developed as kids.  Shaggy and the demise of the Trio, lead to a new dynamic to the slums.

The City is the main character with its vast character  – from the slums to the river, to the beach. It shows off Rio’s character and charm but also shows off the rough edges well.



The beach led to Rocket buying a camera – the  cheapest camera but a future.  At the same time, Li’l Ze moves onto  bigger, eviler ventures – drugs.  Seeing the process and the gang chain of command  is weird to see.

The “runts” were strange to see – Oliver Twist to a new level.  Seeing the runts then talk about wiping out everyone like Li’l Ze. Then having Li’l Ze getting them to toe the line again. Hard to watch.

“Honesty doesn’t pay, sucker”

Rocket’s journey takes is turn on the bus where he made the decision not to cross the line over to the criminal side.

Benny’s farewell – was the mid  point where the snapping of Li’l Ze and the beginning of Rocket’s camerawork.  How Benny got shot in the madness of his farewell party.

Li’l Ze could not get a girl and that made him mad.  Trying to take out Knockout Ned.  – how bullets went straight through the cheap walls.   Ned’s revenge with Carrot’s gun.  The action peaks the further in the story you go.

How kids grow up to quick upon joining the gang is interesting to see.  – How they think they are already men.  The all out war between Carrot and Li’l Ze, the sections of the slum divided.

“Kill. Be Respected”

No one remembered how it started a year into the war.  Media began reporting on it and the police had to intervene – to step up progress.  Li’l Ze seeing this but not his name or his picture.  Rocket now takes their pictures.

The journey to photographer with the gang war taking the forefront finishes the film off well.


The way the story of the city is the story not focusing too much on the central characters was good to see. The dynamic of stories –

  • Li’l Dice soon to be Li’l Ze – shooting people as a kid, to teenager rebel, to grown up.
  • Benny trying to keep up with his best friend Li’l Ze but then finding his own rhythm.
  • The narrator was the photographer who keeps the narrative clear or as clear  as he can.
  • Other stories inter-weaved in are fun to see.

A interesting take on a rural brazil society that shows off the good and the bad.

A few more steps to go on Brazil Week. What’s next – Wait and see.

About Author

Assistant Editor for Erisea. Lover of all things Geeky and otherwise. Feel free to say hello - @Dresdenfalls

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