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City of God Film Analysis

The director used amateur actors from the Rio slums, that have been accused of portraying violent acts, demonstrating excessive detachment towards the protagonists and exaggerating the bonds between the gangsters. In any case, I think such analysis overlooks the main point. I think the director’s central message of the film is about how peoples’ lives are getting ‘thrown away’ in societies like the City of God. The confining portrayal of the favela drives the point that, in such a situation, where police are corrupt, opportunities are scarce and where crimes are often committed, many people have accepted that they have no other option but to be involved in gang life.

The social background is where one person belongs in society, therefore, ought to be looked at in a critical point of view because it characterizes the behavior of an individual in most instances. In the film “City of God”, this concept is established by the life of Lil’Ze, who ends up being the most dangerous criminal in the city, largely due to the impact of being surrounded by bad company.

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This is shown through the development of Lil’Ze’s character: in his adolescent years, he was used as a lookout for his gang, however in the long run he grew up to be a brutal murderer. His demanding nature is represented when he orders a young boy to kill children from a group of kids that like to create havoc on his territory. The film also shows us the poor living standards that the people had to live with and the miserable conditions that surrounded them because they lived in poverty.

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It also shows the world a society that was falling apart because of the numerous amounts of acts that were influenced by corruption of the rich. This was due to the high levels of uncertainty in the city that was brought about by the acts of delinquency.

Rocket is the narrator of the story where he tells the audience about the lives of himself and Lil Ze, children who grew up in the slums of Rio de Janeiro in similar conditions but chose a different pathway in life. In the film the character Rocket shows promise that it is possible not to be influenced by the darkness of others. He dreams of becoming a photographer, and this is used as a vehicle within the film to depict an important visual of the slums to both the media in Rio de Janeiro within the story, and to the audience. Lil Ze is a child with the desire to do crime that grows up to be Rio’s most powerful and well-known drug dealer within the slums. The lives of the two are entwined and Rocket’s dreams of wanting to be a photographer which was shown through his experiences of life growing up in the slums and his depiction of the crimes executed by Lil Ze and his gang.

The film’s main theme is involved with crime and deviance. If the families in the movie were not moved to live in the slums with no money, they would have no desire to be deviant and commit acts of robbery. The film gives the audience a sense of reality of how effective and easy it was for the children to be committing crimes at the slum. It appeared that all of the kids in the City of God carries a firearm, yet not one of the people they robbed from had a gun in hand. This made it fairly simple for the children to loot from other people who are unarmed. Additionally, the kids were permitted to go around the city with no parental supervision. Even the police experienced serious difficulties catching any of the children after they committed crimes. These factors enabled the children to be deviant with no form of punishment given for the crimes they committed.

Police corruption is another big theme that occurs in this movie, it is clearly portrayed in the film that it is essential to survive the drug rings and the unlimited access of weapons that they provide. At the end of the film when the two rival gangsters Lil Ze and Carrot are caught by the police, the viewers see two important events that is occurring: Carrot is kept in custody because the police wants Carrot to be a present for the media, while they let Lil Ze go and through Rocket’s camera lens the audience can see that police are handing him weapons and drugs in return for cash and freedom.

I think the director’s purpose in this movie is to help the audience, develop an understanding of these young delinquents, because of their big ego as they experience joy and seek superiority by harming their rivals. They get a thrill when they commit murder. The film shows their point of reference, so we can understand how they live, make choices and go after their intended victims. This type of approach is intended to make us feel wary of this type of world in which these children live and die easily. Obviously, the director needs the audience to see things we are cannot-or, more probable, reluctant to see. He understands that the viewers in the cinema are filled with people from various backgrounds, but he also knows that most people will likely turn their eyes from a painfully depressing world in which nothing is certain because everything is possible, including children killing children. So, the director gives the viewers with a powerful fierceness, assaulting our defenses to adjust our critical point of view.

In summary, the film “City of God” depicts the impact of social groups on people. It demonstrates that people are impacted by the individuals who surround them during their youth and will naturally take them to their practices, regardless of whether they are corrupt or wicked. The movie also demonstrates that there is suffering from scarce or financial incomes which causes there to be a high number of social disorders that are being seen in this society. People should therefore work hard in this society to provide the most necessary and favorable environment for all the people no matter what color their skin is or what race they may be.


  • Carr, Deborah, et al. Introduction to Sociology. 11th ed., W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2018.
  • Lins, Paulo, and Mantovani Bra?ulio. City of God. Miramax Films, 2002.

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City of God Film Analysis. (2019, Dec 17). Retrieved from

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