City of God is a touching movie about widespread Brazilian crime, particularly from the capital’s favelas.
In this small world, so close and yet so far from the big city, anyone can become a criminal.
However, we closely follow the life of a young boy who wishes to escape from that environment and become a photographer.
It is a simple dream, after all, but it seems almost impossible to achieve in his eyes.
Every day he faces the violence and death surrounding him and sees almost all of his friends join the gangs.
Until one day, by sheer luck, the meanest of favelas murderers asks him to take pictures of him with his troop.
The photos are eventually published, practically without his knowledge, in the most prominent newspaper of Rio de Janeiro.
Initially fearing for his life, he discovers that this unexpected turn of events brought him the job of his dreams.
But gang warfare is reaching a climax inside his community, exacerbated by the media and corrupt police.
Unfortunately for many of his old friends, this will mean a battle from which few of them ever come out alive.
In this world not all of us have equal opportunities
Too often, we look the other way when we encounter an unpleasant reality.
However, City of God is a movie that obliges us to stare into the eyes the hell of children growing up in extreme poverty.
Every day for them could be their last, never knowing what awaits them around the corner.
At every turn behind a wall, two gangs could shoot at each other for control of the territory.
Not to mention the mindless madness these killers unleash against anyone, often for no reason at all.
Too often, these children must watch powerless the violence and abuse against those they hold most dear.
For example, the most dangerous of criminals will create his greatest enemy in this story.
Initially innocent, this boy becomes a murderer after suffering the humiliation of witnessing the abuse of his girlfriend.
But later, he too will become guilty, dragging others into his vengeful fury.
And when the war ends, we discover that it continues with other children already ready to take up arms and start again.
When the truth sadly overcomes the imagination
As a matter of fact, they don’t describe the favelas as a place full of horrible people, quite the contrary.
On the contrary, many of them are just victims of gangs and the disinterest of the police.
Alexandre Rodrigues is the perfect summary of these characters, a simple and friendly boy like many others.
His love for photography will be his ticket out of that place, but only through violence.
Absurdly, the gangs want to end up in the newspapers, demanding respect and recognition as dangerous criminals.
Their intelligence on the street ends up defeated by their ignorance of the outside world, which many of them will never know.
The worst is Leandro Firmino, who, from an angry child, becomes a fierce and bloodthirsty leader.
Initially, his friend Phellipe Haagensen, more intelligent and mild-mannered, manages to tame his bad temper.
However, everything falls into a frenzy of murder and revenge after his death, dragging the entire favelas into the war.
Therefore, we can interpret City of God as a sad modern fable, a film that was unfortunately born from a reality too often ignored.
And still today, twenty years later, we wonder how much things have changed for these poor and marginalized communities.