Professor Maya Matos
Intro to Film
16 February 2015
Cinema Aesthetics in City of God: A Study of Editing and the Cosmetics of Hunger
This paper will focus on editing in the initial sequences of the film City of God. It will also show how the editing choices place this film in context with a movement, which is disaffectionately referred to as the Cosmetics of Hunger.
City of God is a 2002 Brazilian film set in the favela, or slum of the same name. The film tells the story of a young photographer (Rocket) played by Alexandre Rodrigues, growing up in an environment of gangs and violence during a period from the 1960s up to the 1980s. The story begins with the protagonist ...view middle of the document...
While the chicken runs for its life, the streets of the favelas are revealed in several Dutch angles, tracking shots and jittery handhelds. Film credits still appear in the sequence for over 3 minutes, and cease only moments before the standoff scene.
The standoff scene brings a slow motion, gun brandishing Lil Ze to into the frame at a slight Dutch tilt as if to minimize the threat he carries..The camera stops at the protagonist, Buscapé (Rocket), and rotates around him, moving the narrative to the past in a 360- degree matrix dolly which serves to transition the first sequence into a flashback.
This movie is directed by Fernando Meirelles, who has a background in advertising and commercialls and Katia Lund, who has specialized in documentaries. The editor is Daniel Rezende, whose film credits start with this film.
In Meirelles’s City of God, the favela appears as mere background scenery for the movie’s plot. In this particular scene we are not attached to many of the initial characters. The kinetic energy that is misspent on chasing the chicken around the city streets is analogous to the political and social issues that the movie fails to address. By the end of the movie, almost all of the characters have died in the bloodshed of the drug war, on the other hand, Rocket not only survives, but gets a position as a novice photographer in a newspaper. By emphasizing Rocket as the protagonist who escapes the tragic fate of the favelados, (favela dwellers), death or misery, Meirelles’s movie ratifies only an individual solution for social ascension. In the final scene, Rocket walks with a friend and gradually distances himself from the favela.
City of God’s narrative structure can be esthetically revolutionary, but the film remains ethically questionable. According to MV Bill, more than 120,000 people live in the City of God, but it is estimated that less than 0.5 percent of them work for the drug traffic. To this rapper, the image that prevails, however, is the one of the poor black as a social delinquent, a menace to mainstream society. Additionally, MV Bill maintains that the movie did not bring any positive gain to the community (Soares 35).
This 2002 film has roots in a convention of equally fictional and non-fictional discourses intended to expose the true nature of urban poverty and violence as seen through the eyes of Rio De Janeiro’s poorest citizens, who inhabit its favelas, or slums. What has been termed Cosmetics of Hunger started out as a revolutionary vehicle in the 1950s and 1960s under the name Cinema Novo, or more particularly, Aesthetics of Hunger.
This style of cinematic expression which had its emphasis on “sad, “ugly films” that would create an “imperfect cinema” was championed by Glauber Rocha in his incendiary manifesto which stressed a necessity for artisans of LatAm film to remain hungry in both their approach to films and the content within them(Nagib 101).
In the 1960s, filmmakers insisted on the...