City of God - DVD

City of God

Country: Brazil
Release Date: August 30, 2002August 30, 2002
Genre(s): Action/Drama
Director: Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund
Cast: Alexandre Rodrigues, Alice Braga, Leandro Firmino, Phellipe Haagensen, Douglas Silva, Jonathan Haagensen, Matheus Nachtergaele, Seu Jorge, Roberta Rodrigues, Graziella Moretto ...
Awards: Chicago Film Critics Association Awards: Best Foreign Language Film; Las Vegas Film Critics Society Awards: Best Foreign Language Film; New York Film Critics Circle Awards: Best Foreign Language Film; Toronto Film Critics Association Awards: Best Foreign Language Film ...

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City of God

City of God - scene

City of God (Portuguese: Cidade de Deus) is a Brazilian crime film directed by Fernando Meirelles and co-directed by Kátia Lund, released in its home country in 2002 and worldwide in 2003. It was adapted by Bráulio Mantovani from the 1997 novel of the same name written by Paulo Lins. It depicts the growth of organized crime in the Cidade de Deus suburb of Rio de Janeiro, between the end of the ’60s and the beginning of the ’80s, with the closure of the film depicting the war between the drug dealer Li’l Zé and criminal Knockout Ned. The tagline is “Fight and you’ll never survive… Run and you’ll never escape.”

The cast includes Alexandre Rodrigues, Leandro Firmino da Hora, Jonathan Haagensen, Douglas Silva, Alice Braga and Seu Jorge. Most of the actors were, in fact, residents of favelas such as Vidigal and the Cidade de Deus itself.

The film received four Academy Award nominations in 2004: Best Cinematography (César Charlone), Best Directing (Meirelles), Best Editing (Daniel Rezende) and Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay) (Mantovani). Before that, in 2003 it had been chosen to be Brazil’s runner for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film, but it was not nominated to be one of the five finalists.

Meirelles and Lund went on to create the City of Men TV series and film City of Men, which share some of the actors (notably leads Douglas Silva and Darlan Cunha) and their setting with City of God.



Directed by: Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund (co-director)
Produced by: Andrea Barata Ribeiro, Mauricio Andrade Ramos, Elisa Tolomelli and Walter Salles
Written by: Paulo Lins and Bráulio Mantovani
Cast: Alexandre Rodrigues, Alice Braga, Leandro Firmino, Phellipe Haagensen, Douglas Silva, Jonathan Haagensen, Matheus Nachtergaele, Seu Jorge, Roberta Rodrigues, Graziella Moretto…
Music by: Ed Cortês and Antonio Pinto
Cinematography: César Charlone
Release date: August 30, 2002 (2002-08-30)
Running time: 130 minutes
Country: Brazil
Language: Portuguese

Amazon’s review

Like cinematic dynamite, City of God lights a fuse under its squalid Brazilian ghetto, and we’re a captive audience to its violent explosion. The titular favela is home to a seething army of impoverished children who grow, over the film’s ambitious 20-year timeframe, into cutthroat killers, drug lords, and feral survivors. In the vortex of this maelstrom is L’il Z (Leandro Firmino da Hora–like most of the cast, a nonprofessional actor), self-appointed king of the dealers, determined to eliminate all competition at the expense of his corrupted soul. With enough visual vitality and provocative substance to spark heated debate (and box-office gold) in Brazil, codirectors Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund tackle their subject head on, creating a portrait of youthful anarchy so appalling–and so authentically immediate–that City of God prompted reforms in socioeconomic policy. It’s a bracing feat of stylistic audacity, borrowing from a dozen other films to form its own unique identity. You’ll flinch, but you can’t look away. –Jeff Shannon

From The New Yorker

Just how far into your face can a movie get? This one has every intention of leaving you scalded and bruised. Set in Rio de Janeiro, it was directed by Fernando Meirelles, who tries every trick known to cameramen: freeze frames, whip pans, multiple dissolves, slow motion, double motion, any kind of motion. The object is to keep pace with his characters, the young and dispossessed of the Brazilian slums. The movie hastens roughly from the nineteen-sixties to the eighties, as we watch the boys either die or grow old before their time. The result is a jolting ride, but such is the skill on show that we run the risk of being too exhilarated to notice every death; does the film convince in its plea for the forgotten poor, or are we encouraged to forget them as they fall? In Portuguese. -Anthony Lane
Copyright © 2006 The New Yorker

Amazon’s Customers Reviews

Seeking to survive in a brutal environment…
“City of God” (“Cidade de Deus”) is the story of a boy, but also the story of a “favela” (Portuguese word with similar meaning to slum or shantytown) on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. That shantytown is called “Cidade de Deus”. Throughout this extraordinary movie both the boy and the favela grow, albeit obviously in very different ways :)

The boy is Rocket (Buscapé in Portuguese, played by Alexandre Rodrigues), who is born in Cidade de Deus and grows up before our eyes living in it. He is quiet and easygoing, just a non-violent person seeking a way to survive in a brutal environment. Rocket ends up doing exactly that through his passion, photography, that ends up making him an intermediary between the local gangs and the press. He is also the narrator of this movie, the voice that accompanies us throughout many of the stories that “City of God” has to offer…

The other main character of “City of God” is the “city” itself, that starts merely as a couple of houses, but that grows immensely as years go by. The activities in which its inhabitants are involved also change, from petty robbery to organized crime that involves drug dealing and arms trafficking. We see Li’l Zé (Zé Pequeno in Portuguese, played by Leandro Frimino), one of the boys that used to play soccer with Rocket, grow up to become a murderer and a drug lord, someone that makes his own laws. The same happened with others, but Li’l Zé probably represents to most dangerous kind of sociopath that the favela can produce. Rocket and Li’l Zé, same circumstances, different persons, different choices. Who says that where you lives determinates how you are and what you do?. This is an excellent example that that is not always the case…

Directors Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund somehow managed to convey in their movie the full strenght of the novel (written by Paulo Lins) on which “City of God” is based. This film is full of colour and energy, carrying the spectator at a dizzying pace through the twenty years it covers, never giving him time to get bored. It is wortwhile to point out that most of the “actors” didn’t have any real experience as such, they just happened to live in different slums of Rio de Janeiro (including Cidade de Deus) at the time when the film was being made. I think that is something that shows in the realism of the results…

On the whole, I can say that I loved “City of God”, notwithstanding the fact that it is undeniably bloody and has some very violent scenes. In my opinion, they are not gratuitous, because they help the directors to capture what may really happen in a Brazilian shantytown, and show it to us. All in all, this movie is nothing short of an experience worth having and sharing. If you watch “City of God” and love it as much as I do, do your part and recommend it to others :)

Belen Alcat

Brutal, disturbing and brilliant. I loved it!
Exploding on the screen with color, violence and a great story, this Brazilian film captures the essence of life in the City of God, a slum of Rio de Janeiro. Based on a true story of a young man who somehow escaped the preordained fate of his companions by becoming a photographer, the director, Fernando Meirelles, uses every modern technique to achieve his razor-sharp scenes of drugs, murders and non-stop violence that spins out of control and just keeps going.

The frantic energy of the film and fascinating story kept me at the edge of my seat, as a voice-over narration that moved backwards and forward in time, held the story together. All of a sudden, a detail would be revealed that explained something that happened in the past, and, like an electric shock, my grasp of the story would move to even deeper levels. There was little time to ponder it all though, because I was so caught up in what was happening on the screen that it was only later that I could appreciate the brilliance.

We watch several young boys grow into teenagers, tentatively experiencing the world of girls and drugs and guns and murders and crime. There’s upbeat samba music throughout, and brilliant colors and blood. There’s horrific violence, and also fine moments of humor and humanity. All together it just picked me up and plunked me down right into the middle of this world which made me hold my breath and live on the edge with the more than 200 non-professional actors who were recruited for this film. The sense of place is amazing. And the acting was more than just acting. It was real. And it was also one of the most creative films I’ve ever seen. Bravo to the filmmakers! I give “City of God” my highest recommendation.

So this is what Brazilian ghettos look like. Stylistically a little like “Traffic” (liberal reliance on sepia tones or drugs) or “Salaam Bombay” (similar theme couched in the streets of Bombay), this movie is a bloody but captivating look at real life in modern day Rio.

Gangsterism is no more a fringe career option amidst the socio-economic strife of the city, but a prime-time industry that takes guts and guile to keep away from. Character after character in the movie fall a prey to this vicious panoply of drugs, poverty and gore. An underlying personal thread is the story of how our protagonist, Rocket, becomes a news photographer and escapes from the slum. Plus, a minor subplot about how he loses his virginity.

Technically, the movie is nothing short of stunning. Several virtuoso scenes are strewn together with clever direction in which the dizzying pace and the sheer number of characters don’t detract from a coherent, well told story. We are led in and around scenes, and frequently led back to explain why what occured occured. Wannabe-editors will marvel at how cunningly this effect is achieved. The cinematography, needless to mention, is geewhiz, the screen literally pops with color.

I could wax eloquent about more reasons but the proof is in the pudding. City of God bursts at the seams with energy, vivid color and a poignant story of a man’s escape from the social drivel he is born into. If you can get your hands on this movie, do so pronto, you won’t regret it.

City of God, 8.2 out of 10 based on 10 ratings


City of God - DVD
Cidade de Deus
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City of God - scene
City of God - scene
City of God - scene
City of God - scene
City of God - scene


City of God
City of God (Portuguese: Cidade de Deus) is a Brazilian crime film directed by Fernando Meirelles and co-directed by Kátia Lund, released in its home country in 2002 and worldwide in 2003. It was adapted by Bráulio Mantovani from the 1997 novel of the same name written by Paulo...
Posted 14 Feb 2011

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Categories: BAFTA, Brazil, Brazilian movies, Images, Synopsis, Trailers


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