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City of God has been highly praised for raising awareness whilst also criticised for exploiting of suffering.

Where do you stand on this debate? City of God is a film that has achieved international success for its gripping tale of children growing up in a dark and dangerous place and its quirky MTV-style film-making. Despite this the film has come under fire from those who say specific sequences that show strong levels of suffering, or represent the less salubrious parts of favela life are stylised and look to entertain the audience, thus distracting them from the scenes true nature. Even early on in the film this is visible, when the Tender Trio performs a hold-up on a truck that is carrying petrol so that the locals can steal fuel. Before the crime is even committed the children are shown to adore the older boys, in a sense providing a prelude to the general feeling surrounding the event. When they hijack the vehicle, fast cuts and kinetic camera movements provide excitement and turn the scene into an action sequence. Combined with the treatment of the gang both before and after the hold-up, this could be interpreted as a glorification of what they do, which is wrong. After all, whilst this is perhaps an accurate representation of favela-life, it is a grim reality not a visceral one; Shaggy and co. do this out of desperation rather than for kicks. The issues though, are perhaps more apparent in the highly-praised Apartment scene. This shows the history of an ill-fated drug den over the course of many years. The scene is extremely artistic, using a single camera angle and dissolves to show the passing of time in one place. Its not really an action scene though some action-tropes (guns and violence) do appear, instead it encourages the audience to marvel at the ingenuity of the director and his camerawork; this is a consistent occurrence throughout the film. The whole thing is set to light music as well, which makes the story seem a little indifferent, hence the controversy. In the scene numerous people are killed, arrested and beaten up yet we find ourselves (as the audience) eliciting no emotional response. It might be the audiences fault were it not for the lack of focus the film applies to the suffering and the emphasis on the clever cinematography. Of course its possible the director wanted to pick out the fact that death is a normal occurrence in this neighbourhood and that this story was no more tragic than what was happening on a daily basis all over the favela, but then, why such artistic editing? Despite this, Mereilles (the director), does approach certain disturbing moments with a level of sensitivity, such as the scene in which a young boy is told to shoot one of his friends dead. The childs innocence is clarified as he leaves the house with Lil Zes gang; he shouts to his mum: Im just going out with my friends. These children have no other role-models so, once again, are forced to look up to criminals like Ze. In this scene the gang decide to discipline some of the younger boys for stealing from a favela shop keeper, the boys they capture are both shot in the foot before Steak with Fries is handed the pistol to prove himself to the gang. In this scene shots are held for a long time to build tension but the verve of the previous examples is nowhere to be found. Whilst it is evident the director is trying to extract emotion from a horrific scene (child on child murder) it seems appropriate as we should feel horrified. Similarly when we flashback and discover that Lil Ze killed all the people in the motel, style is second fiddle to responsibility, however this suffering is more story based than the execution, which representative of real favela situations. The child with the gun is decidedly callous in his massacre of the chained hotel staff, the actual gore and death is not really shown on screen and no music is used, instead the audience is left to focus on the face of a monster. He laughs and shrieks childishly

as he kills the people and this helps us to understand the reason he is so cruel later in the film, perhaps an excuse for his share of the violence in the apartment scene. To conclude, the whole film is stylistically edited, few scenes pass without an interesting camera angle or rhythmic jump-cut. These include scenes of intense suffering such as the apartment scene, but they must be included in order to maintain the integrity of the representation of the Brazilian favelas. Arguably it was the directors artistic decisions that garnered the film so much attention in the first placed; had he approached the same scenes with a poe-faced stoicism, the film as whole and therefore the contentious issues at hand would not have come into the public forum.

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