Analysis of the movie “City of God”


The movie “City of God” refers to a Brazilian movie directed by Fernando Mereilles and Katia Lund which is set in the lawless city of Rio de Janeiro.  The movie is all about the evil practices in the society. It unveils evil malpractices such as drug trafficking, violent murders and local outlaws. The film is based on the lives of two boys, Rocket and Lil’Ze, who grew up in the neighborhood and eventually pursued different paths in their lives due to the consequences of the environment in which they were raised.  Rocket managed to evade the criminal activities in the society in most of the times while Lil’Ze embraced the disorderly life of the city (the City of God). He thrived in the evil environment that promoted criminality and corruption and eventually became the leader of the deadliest gang in the city. On the other hand, the movie highlights the life and growth of Rocket. Rocket manages to live an honest and responsible life despite the terrorizing gang that surrounded his vicinity. This again is a manifestation that we are all capable of living a socially responsible life despite the economic hardships and societal challenges that we are exposed to.

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He is presented as a hardworking person who values life and upholds the law of the land. His life is contrasted to that of Lil’Ze and other youths in the city whose life is based on the easy promises and the dangerous paths of criminality. The movie proves that people can survive and lead a responsible life despite the most unbearable and dangerous circumstances that surround them. The movie highlights the acts of violence and corruption that were prominent in the city during that time. The movie also unveils the rise and fall of one of the most dangerous criminals in the city by the name Lil’Ze, a very dark-hearted gangster. His brutality is seen when he murders and rapes the residents without caring for the consequences. As a result, all the other gangs united against him because his acts were endangering the lives of the people. The story line of the movie is unraveled by Buscape, who hails from humble beginnings. His father earned his livelihood through fishing and he witnessed all the crimes that were taking place in the city as he grew up. The violent life and the brutality that the dwellers of the city were exposed to are presented by Buscape. The story is centered on the rise of a young Brazilian boy who struggles with the peer pressure from his colleagues who break the laws that govern the land. We also realize the imagery of satire that is deployed in the movie by the actors. The fact that the movie is not completely related to connect only shows us how many play the part of God in the daily lives of their fellow citizens. For instance, the movie shows that one has to kill his rival in order to survive in the society (Thornberry, 2004).

The movie unveils the influence and the impact the society exerts on an individual and the consequent choice of life he decides to live. The movie shows ascertains that the environment in terms of the people who surround him plays a major role in the molding of that particular person into either a responsible and law-abiding citizen or a criminal and a lawless citizen. The social background to which one belongs, therefore, should be reviewed critically and thoughtfully because it defines the behavior of an individual in most instances. In the movie “City of God”, this notion is ascertained by the life of Lil’Ze, who turns out to be the most dangerous criminal in the city, largely due to the influence of a bad company. This is seen through the development of Lil’Ze’s character:  in his teenage years, he acted as a lookout for his gang but eventually grew into a merciless murderer. His unforgiving nature is exemplified when he confronts a young boy and orders him to kill two youths of another rival gang who had been cornered.  The movie also talks about the poor living standards that the people endured and the abject poverty that surrounded them. It also presents to the world a society that was collapsing due to the countless acts of corruption by the rich. This was coupled by the high levels of insecurity in the city caused by the rising cases of criminality.

The movie sheds light on matters that are of great importance to society. High levels of poverty originate from the poor behavior that was generally prevalent in the society. Individuals grow up in a society that does not care about the life of a fellow citizen and all their actions are undesirable. The diminished and unlimited resources that are available to the people only worsen the situation. The poverty witnessed in the city and particularly in the slums is implicit. The people only have a few viable opportunities due to the high demographic figures to progress in their career lives. Most of the people, therefore, are forced to work in low-paying jobs so as to sustain their livelihood and at worst join the gang groups whom are terrorizing the city. The youth fall prey to the temptation of joining the gang groups and their lives as a result become wasted and stunted.  They also lack knowledge and insight to confront the problems that life presents in a moral and dignified manner. The movie shows that due to their narrow minds and low thinking capacity of most of the citizens, the cheap but harsh life of criminality suits them. They therefore break the laws of the land knowingly and trump on the rights and freedom of other people just for their own gains (Hawkins, 1996).

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The movie also shows the critical role of parents in the lives of growing teenagers. For example, teenagers will need guidance and counseling on many social problems and challenges that they have to face in their daily lives. In the absence of parents, peer groups take this responsibility naturally due to the fact that the elders in the society have inadequate solutions to the challenges that are facing them. This groups turn out to be misleading; in most cases, they completely assimilate an individual into the world of lawlessness. An individual therefore grows up based on the teachings from these peer groups principally due to the pressure to conform to their ways and ethics at the expense of a better life. This, again, is evident in the movie through the actions and the rise and fall of Lil’Ze.

The social learning theory is one of the best theories of delinquency that can be used to explain the actions of the characters in the movie “City of God”. The theory states that a person conforms to the type of environment that he or she grows up in. It implies that an individual will observe the rules and regulations of society in the presence of positive role models in his or her environment. The theory also holds that an individual may be negatively influenced by the evil acts that are happening in the community in which he or she resides. For instance, in a violent society such as the city of Rio de Janeiro, an individual will be compelled to turn to violent ways in order to cope with the frustrations that he encounters in his daily life. The movie shows us how the recruitment drive for inductees to the life of crime is done at a very early age. The apprenticeship for teenage boys starts by stealing, looting, robbing people off their belongings and gradually progressing to more dangerous acts such as murder, extortion and gang warfare, where a group of criminals face off in battle to gain control over a certain strategic area. This theory is once more exemplified by the role peer groups play in the growth of an individual from a child to an adult. An individual will be compelled unwillingly to conform to conditions of a group largely because of peer pressure and if the group is made up of evil characters, an individual will turn out to be irresponsible and unreliable and, in most cases, a danger to society.

The movie also unveils the relationship between poverty and juvenile delinquency. This is seen through the life of the notorious gang leader Lil’Ze and the consequences of his actions. Having been brought up in a society that had inadequate economic resources, Lil’Ze opts for an easier life which is deadly and unacceptable in modern society. He therefore had to kill in order to earn a living and this greatly jeopardized the lives of his neighbors. The movie also shows the problems posed by a gang, the brutal and cruel slum life and the activities of a murderous criminal gang. All these circumstance in the movie are narrated by Rocket, who lived through these harsh times by virtue of being a photographer. He presents to us how racial injustice was being committed in the slums. The unequal and unfair treatment of the black-skinned people is unveiled when the white policemen supply the guns and other weapons that for killing them. They sold their guns to the gang of criminals and made exorbitant profits at the expense of the security of the slum dwellers. They lacked the moral integrity of upholding social security and providing security to all without judgment or discrimination (Shoemaker, 2009).

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Furthermore, the movie highlights two ideologies that have been presented in the story line to great effect. One of the ideologies talks about the lives of the citizens residing in Rio de Janeiro while the other one highlights the lives of the criminal groups led by Lil’Ze and Carrot. The lives of the city dwellers are depicted as noble and honest and they earn their daily bread through responsible and acceptable means. Contrarily, the other ideology portrays criminality and widespread violence in the city. These ideologies stem from the fact that the life of an individual is basically determined by the social unit in which s/he belongs. It is therefore necessary for a person to align himself or herself with a group of people who are responsible and hard-working.

In conclusion, the movie “City of God” portrays the effect of social groupings on individuals. It shows that people are influenced by the people who surround them during their growth and will naturally take them to their practices, whether they are bad or evil. The movie also shows that inadequate or economic resources result in the high levels of social disorders that are being witnessed in the society. We should therefore strive to provide the most desirable and conducive environment for all the people irrespective of their color or race. 

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