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Jean François Heckel,
Documentary depicts what happened in Rio de Janeiro on June 12th 2000, when bus 174 was taken by an armed young man, threatening to shoot all the passengers. Transmitted live on all Brazilian TV networks, this shocking and tragic-ending event became one of violence's most shocking portraits, and one of the scariest examples of police incompetence and abuse in recent years. Written by
Dramatic, insightful and excellently crafted. One of the best documentaries I've seen.
When I rented this movie I had no real idea what to expect. I had no prior knowledge of the event or of the documentary itself, and all that I was going on was another viewers review on my DVD rental queue, the rating itself, and the tagline - that the bus was hijacked and broadcast live on television.
It's also hard hitting. The team behind this documentary have done an amazing job to bring the story and the messages to the front of the film, and it's amazing just how well they do it.
Movie: The documentary hit me probably harder than any other documentary has in my life. One of the most interesting and compelling things about this is the way its structured as a movie. It builds tension and sets clear sides of good and bad guys. Then it begins to look at the characters involved and as the events occur in the actual footage they trigger investigations into characters and their past.
It's here where the film is most effective, using the real life footage from the News Stations to underpin the story, holding it together from opening to closing shot. The footage is also used as an indicator of when to jump to outside footage, be that from interviews of those involved from experts, friends and family. It's superbly pulled together.
This movie is charged with more emotion and suspense than many thrillers, and that can count against it too. You have to keep remembering that this is reality, not a movie, because it is so well delivered and paced that it can begin to feel as such.
To begin with your sympathies lie wholly with the hostages as the whole situation appears to be like any other hijack, but this alliance soon changes as the filmmakers begin to reveal the truth behind the hijacker and the situation.
Slowly, as you learn more about the hijacker you are also shown more about the Police, Street Kids, Prisons, and the mess the Country has found itself in. It's not only eye opening, it's emotionally strong and provides for a none too easy journey. A journey that should be taken and known.
It is perhaps the ending which is the most harrowing and shocking, although attention needs to be firmly kept on the equally shocking moments that brought us there. The slaughter of the Street Children by the Police, the overcrowded jails which make Guantanamo seem like a holiday camp, the Police corruption and finally the poor and destroyed life of Sandro do Nascimento, the Street Kid and hijacker.
The filmmakers have done an excellent job both in the editing and the initial structuring of the documentary. They've expertly pulled the audience to the drama of the situation and used that to highlight the real issues of their country in one of the most effective, thought provoking and intelligent documentaries I have ever seen.
Picture: Widescreen 16:9 The picture range sin quality as you would expect with the varying news sources used for footage. The quality ranges from traffic cameras to hand-held digital used in the exploration of Nascimento's past, of the Street Children and the interviews with those involved. So although the quality can be poor at times, it all adds to the realism and the actual footage feel of the film.
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 As with the picture the audio varies in quality, but when it comes to the interviews it is clear, nothing more is needed here than the offered digital stereo.
Extras: The Making Of Bus 174 (30 minutes), Additional interviews (40 minutes), Assistant director Alexandre Lima's Social Frontiers photography exhibition, Interview with director Jose Padilha, Trailers
The Director gives a very insightful discussion on the movie, the process of making it, and ultimately life in Brazil for the less fortunate - the Street Kids who are so neglected and abused by society. You really do get a sense of pride in his Country and at the same time a sense of shame at what it is becoming. The discussion and insight into the movie and the process behind finding out about Nascimento and the Street Kids is quite in-depth, giving a good understanding of what is involved in making such a strong and unbiased documentary.
The additional interviews are even more eye opening and informative, not to say emotional. It's surprising just how informative they are and even without editing them down to the normal bite-sized interview snippets. Everything you'd want to know about the subjects in the movie are covered in these four interviews and from differing viewpoints, with Politics, Brazilian life and living on the streets at the forefront.
Overall This documentary ranks high in the top five I have seen to date. It's informative and insightful, providing the World with a view of Brazilian life we've never seen before and never been given the chance to understand.
It's a hard hitting and emotional film which presents to us the common and media portrayed view of what Nascimento is, slowly and carefully revealing his past to show the pain, hardship and mistreatment he and other Street Kids have received.
Dramatic and insightful, this film is one that should not be missed. It doesn't just show us about the Brazilian Street Kids either, it tells us more about the oppressed people of the World and how they can come to turn against the forces that created them. We need to understand them and to help them before they become like Nascimento.
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