City of God (2002)
I have to preface with the fact that while this is one of my favorite movies of all time, I happened to only start studying this film for my blog because of a class at my university. I figured this would be a great opportunity to not only complete an assignment that I couldn’t care less about but to also view it from a different perspective (à la this blog). Additionally, a “challenge” I had in finding my shots to post here was only created because of this movie’s editing style. Simply put, this may be one of if not the greatest edited movie I have ever come across. Initially writing off the cinematography, I discovered that the two go quite hand in hand in City of God. Rapid shots and cuts are plentiful and took me many attempts to get the ones I wanted (and had to turn off subtitles every time; a challenge I was not expecting).
I put City of God, a foreign film from Brazil, in that class of movies where you found it to be amazing, but never want to see again (think Requiem for a Dream). There were many things that piqued my interest; none more so than the prevalence of shots with characters by themselves, or, if together, with a dead (or soon to be dead) body. I found I had chosen many like this, which heavily implied the notion that this lifestyle of violence and crime is either going to kill you - or if you’re lucky enough to survive - everyone around you.
Many could certainly be off put by a movie as violent as this, but I think simply comparing it to a traditional gangster movie with too many gun fights undermines the significance of this movie. Mostly shot on location in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, this movie at times feels like a documentary, totally immersing the viewer and throwing them around this rapid lifestyle (again, much credit to the outstanding editing). A large portion of the cast were born and raised in these areas and give stellar performances. Acting as social commentary as well, City of God makes it a priority to let the viewer know that even though this story occurred over half a century ago, the war to control the slums wages on. With brilliant utilization of scope, depth, intertwining story lines and the brutality of a life of crime, City of God is one flick that in my mind will become one of the greatest and most important non-Hollywood movies of our time.
one of the first and shots which brilliantly sets the tone for the rest of the movie
^ in my mind, the most important and iconic shot
I just absolutely loves these shots juxtaposed together. The framing, the space, the changes in colors and the (obvious) transition to loneliness.
“Damned if you do, damned if you don’t”