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City of God (2002)
"Cidade de Deus" (original title)

R  |   |  Crime, Drama  |  13 February 2004 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.7/10 from 495,489 users   Metascore: 79/100
Reviews: 724 user | 209 critic | 33 from Metacritic.com

Two boys growing up in a violent neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro take different paths: one becomes a photographer, the other a drug dealer.


(novel), (screenplay)
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Top Rated Movies #21 | Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 65 wins & 34 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Zé Pequeno - Li'l Zé (as Leandro Firmino da Hora)
Phellipe Haagensen ...
Matheus Nachtergaele ...
Mané Galinha - Knockout Ned
Jefechander Suplino ...
Alicate - Clipper
Emerson Gomes ...
Edson Oliveira ...
Michel de Souza ...
Bené Criança - Young Benny (as Michel De Souza Gomes)
Roberta Rodrigues ...
Luis Otávio ...
Maurício Marques ...
Cabeção - Melonhead


Brazil, 1960's, City of God. The Tender Trio robs motels and gas trucks. Younger kids watch and learn well...too well. 1970's: Li'l Zé has prospered very well and owns the city. He causes violence and fear as he wipes out rival gangs without mercy. His best friend Bené is the only one to keep him on the good side of sanity. Rocket has watched these two gain power for years, and he wants no part of it. Yet he keeps getting swept up in the madness. All he wants to do is take pictures. 1980's: Things are out of control between the last two remaining gangs...will it ever end? Welcome to the City of God. Written by Jeff Mellinger <jeffmellinger@astound.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Based on a true story. See more »


Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong brutal violence, sexuality, drug content and language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

13 February 2004 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

City of God  »

Box Office


$3,300,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$541,996 (Brazil) (30 August 2002)


$7,563,397 (USA) (18 June 2004)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs



Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The correct translation of the names is:
  • Buscapé = Rocket (the firecracker type)

  • Zé Pequeno = Little Zé (Zé comes from José = Joseph)

  • Dadinho = Little dice

  • Cabeleira = Big Hair/Shaggy

  • Mané Galinha = Chicken Mané (Does not imply a coward in Portuguese slang, but usually means "Womanizer") Mané is short for Manuel

  • Alicate = Pliers

  • Barbantinho = Little string

  • Cabeção = Big Head

  • Filé-com-Fritas = Steak with fries

  • Paraíba = Paraíba is the name of a state in the north east of Brazil, the state where the character comes from

See more »


Lil' Ze is taken into custody by the police, Rocket runs after the police truck. The Police truck passes by a late - model Chevrolet S10, black, circa 2001. The movie is set in the seventies. See more »


[first lines]
Zé Pequeno: Whoa, the chicken ran away. Get that chicken, dude!
See more »

Crazy Credits

There are no actor credits in the opening credits. See more »


Featured in Maltin on Movies: Top 10 Films of the Decade (2011) See more »


Hot Pants Road
Written by Charles Bobbitt / James Brown / St. Clair Jr. Pinckney
Performed by JB's
Dynatone Publishing Company
(Represented in Brazil by Warner Chappell Edições Musicais Ltda)
Used by permission from Universal Music Ltda
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

"One of the best films you'll ever see!"--Roger Ebert, does it live up to the hype?
28 November 2004 | by (Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA) – See all my reviews

The film revolves around the, 'City of God,' a favela (or ghetto) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, a horrifying area where drug dealers run the community, and where children killing children is not an uncommon occurrence.

The story begins with the early stages of the City of God (in the 1960's) showing where many of the problems stem from- the extreme poverty, overcrowding etc. Here, in the early stages of the favela, we meet our main characters, along with the supporting cast. The story revolves mainly around two characters living in the favela, Rocket and Lil Ze, and how they take two different paths through life. Rocket's dream is to become a photographer and to escape the City of God while Lil Ze becomes a powerful gang leader and drug dealer.

The film offers an unflinching look at gang life in the City of God, as it follows the favela through three decades; the 60's, 70's and 80's, and shows how violence just spirals into more violence with the disturbingly high amounts of violence in the favela, most involving teenagers and children.

The direction, cinematography, and editing are all Oscar-worthy. The cinematography is some of the best I have ever seen- with a very visceral, jerky feel, very reminiscent of Saving Private Ryan. The editing is very frantic, which makes you feel like you are on the streets of the City of God, and the direction is flawless, seamlessly blending the many elements of the story.

The film was definitely one of the best films I have ever seen. The story, the direction, the cinematography, the editing and the acting all add up to make a excellent movie that I would recommend to all.

10/10, A+

Would also recommend: Bus 174 and Carandiru

551 of 628 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Why is this at 8.8? roggan79
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