- Cidade de Deus (City of God) (2002)
Taking place over the course of over two decades, City of God tells the story of Cidade de Deus (Portuguese for City of God), a lower class quarter west of Rio de Janeiro. The film is told from the viewpoint of a boy named Rocket (Busca pé in Portuguese) who grows up there as a fishmonger’s son, and demonstrates the desperation and violence inherent in the slums. Based on a real story, the movie depicts drug abuse, violent crime, and a boy’s struggle to free himself from the slums’ grasp.
What a stunning film! Violent, sure; those little kids running loose around the slum shooting anything with a pulse were as frightening as anything in the movie. But – and I always say this when pressed – what sets this picture high and above most of what I’ve seen lately is the story. Story and visuals: that’s what makes a great piece of cinema. (Yes, acting is important, but you can still have a great film without too much help from the actors – some examples that immediately come to mind are The Red Balloon and Koyaanisqatsi.) The makers of Slumdog Millionaire surely borrowed tone, setting and scenario from City of God, and it’s a crime that more people haven’t (apparently) seen it.
The following clip has no English subtitles (they are not necessary), and is not recommended for the squeamish: