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

 -  Crime | Drama  -  30 August 2002 (Brazil)
8.7
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Ratings: 8.7/10 from 411,626 users   Metascore: 79/100
Reviews: 695 user | 206 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.

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(novel), (screenplay)
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Title: City of God (2002)

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Top 250 #21 | Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 60 wins & 28 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Leandro Firmino ...
Zé Pequeno - Li'l Zé (as Leandro Firmino da Hora)
Phellipe Haagensen ...
Douglas Silva ...
Jonathan 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
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

If you run, the beast will get you. If you stay, the beast will eat you See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

Release Date:

30 August 2002 (Brazil)  »

Also Known As:

City of God  »

Box Office

Budget:

$3,300,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$21,728 (South Africa) (5 September 2003)

Gross:

$7,563,397 (USA) (18 June 2004)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

|

Sound Mix:

|

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The scene where the gang prays before the war was not scripted. During the shooting a young boy, who used to be on a real gang, asked director Fernando Meirelles if the group was not going to pray like they always did before any important confrontation with the enemies. Meirelles told him to lead the prayer as they shot the scene. See more »

Goofs

When Li'l Zé makes Knockout Ned undress, Knockout Ned's shirt is already unbuttoned. But in the next shot we see him unbuttoning it. See more »

Quotes

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

Crazy Credits

During the end credits there is shown actual real-life footage of the real Mané Galinha, or Knockout-Ned as he is translated into in the American version of the film. This is in fact the same TV interview we see constructed in the film, and we can see that the filmmakers have copied this TV interview down to the smallest detail. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Eagle Eye (2008) See more »

Soundtracks

Kung Fu Fighting
Written by Carl Douglas
Performed by Carl Douglas
Schacht Music Inc. / Editora Femata / Sanctuary Records Group Inc.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Tall and Tan and Young and Packing
26 April 2004 | by (New York, New York) – See all my reviews

'What are you doing, you're just a kid?' "I steal, I kill, I carry a gun, how can I be just a kid? I am a man."

Many who visit Brazil the first time, tend to view Brazilians as lacking serious ambition. They seem to party the night away, and appear to seldom work. The old joke about Brazilians is that they have breakfast at 2:00 in the afternoon.

But such a narrow view does not take into account the fact that while we in America work to live, sweating away for pennies which the government steals at every turn, they in Brazil Live to Live. It is a different kind of living, a life that sambas with the vibrance of the swaying palm and the bounding drum. A life that understands that we are only on this earth for a cup of cafezinho, and we should have fun while we can before the end comes, but quick.

But as the City of God also shows us, Brazilian life is often nasty, brutish and short. A certain degree of anarchy overshadows all the denizens of the film. But Director Fernando Meirelles takes a situation lacking definite boundaries and clear authority, and creates a framework, a structure, that of Gang Rule. The gang-members are not seasoned, old-time criminals like Fredo Corleone or even Tony Montana. Instead, they are a bunch of sweet-faced kids. No one is older than 25, partly because of choice, but mainly because no one lives past this age.

On the surface, in this context, City of God is a coming of age story of two young people, a sort of Brazilian "Angels With Dirty Faces.' One character escapes from the City of God, while the other succumbs to it.

But when one scratches beneath, one finds the film a comment on the morally bankrupt City of God in Rio De Janeiro, and a mirror on Brazil itself. Far away from the party hopping, Travel and Leisure postcard perfect white beaches, is another world, one of marauding bands of displaced children.

The most surprising thing about City of God is its references to American films. Most Brazilian films, as the films of all countries do, owe allegiance to their own particular cultural situation. Brazil owes a cultural debt to Europe (Portugal, Germany, Italy) and Africa. However, the United States has a far more distant cultural relationship to Brazil. That is where City of God triumphs to me an American film goer. It uses the chapter format made famous in Pulp Fiction and more recently, Kill Bill. It uses the familial structure present in Goodfellas. It uses the 'white-suit cool' present in Miami Vice and the Bacardi and cola ads from the preview before this very movie.

The fact that City of God can be subtitled Grand Theft Auto: Sao Paolo, is not a surprise nor a mistake. The film is built like a video game in its use of random acts of violence. But the fluid perfect camera work and editing give way to a film with enormous contradictions. Contradictions as large and as vast as the noble country itself.

Stylistically, the camera work does not conform to its premise as a gangster film. A gangster film never looked this good. It is as if the camera is released in the wide open beaches, and kicked around like one of Ronaldinho's headers. It starts on the sand and moves steadily across. It picks up on the story but then heads into the sun. It then leaves us, the film-viewer, with the most indelible image in years as we see Sonia Braga (A world icon and sex symbol of Brazil)'s niece, sitting on the sun-drenched coast putting her arm around another young boy. The innocence conveyed in this scene is something to behold. It literally takes your breath away.

You see the slamming of different, competing themes. You see the subtlety and tranquility of the beach, smashed into scenes of battered youths dying on city streets. You see a wealth of hypnotic ambiguous images pulled together, much like the very Culture of Brazil itself.


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