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City of God

City of God

4.8 26
Director: Fernando Meirelles

Cast: Jonathan Haagensen, Matheus Nachtergaele, Seu Jorge


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Fernando Meirelles' City of God is a sweeping tale of how crime affects the poor population of Rio de Janeiro. Though the narrative skips around in time, the main focus is on Cabeleira who formed a gang called the Tender Trio. He and his best friend, Bené (Phelipe Haagensen), become crime lords over the course of a decade. When Bené is killed before he can


Fernando Meirelles' City of God is a sweeping tale of how crime affects the poor population of Rio de Janeiro. Though the narrative skips around in time, the main focus is on Cabeleira who formed a gang called the Tender Trio. He and his best friend, Bené (Phelipe Haagensen), become crime lords over the course of a decade. When Bené is killed before he can retire, Lil' Zé attempts to take out his arch enemy, Sandro Cenoura (Matheus Nachtergaele). But Sandro and a young gangster named Mane form an alliance and begin a gang war with Lil' Zé. Amateur photographer Buscape (Alexandre Rodrigues) takes pictures of the brutal crime war, making their story famous. City of God was screened at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
This breathtaking, ferocious, and occasionally terrifying drama about violent gangs in Rio de Janeiro has been compared to Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas, and the comparison is an apt one. The movie is about a city within a city, a sizable slum where life unfolds chaotically and the law has little sway. In this milieu, young men thrive only when they join a gang, so that's the obvious choice for Rocket (Alexandre Rodrigues). With poverty undermining most of the slum's families, the gangs offer structure and community. While Rocket and his friends are certainly criminals, they're not very wealthy, because their activities are limited to the "City of God," whose inhabitants don't have much money. Living lives of violence and desperation, the gang members don't expect to reach a ripe old age -- a perfectly understandable feeling, given the savagery and suddenness of their clashes with rivals. Fernando Meirelles (whose direction earned an Oscar nomination) and his co-director, Katia Lund, employ jerky shots taken with handheld cameras and rapid cutting to give the film a jagged sense of urgency. In this city, danger lurks around every corner, and only the quick of mind and fleet of foot can expect to survive. This urban wasteland seems Dickensian, and the supporting characters are invested with colorful personalities. Brazil's president called City of God a necessary wake-up call, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences saw fit to nominate the film for four Oscars -- in addition to the nod for Meirelles, the film’s cinematography, screenplay, and editing were also cited. The movie doesn't romanticize, exploit, or condescend, as some gangster films do, yet it is every bit as riveting and memorable as many of the genre’s celebrated masterworks.
All Movie Guide - Josh Ralske
Fernando Meirelles' City of God starts with a bang, and it doesn't just unfold quickly -- it flies at the audience like it was shot out of a cannon. Based on the novel by Paulo Lins, it's a vibrantly hyperkinetic, hyperstylized gangster-drug saga in the tradition of Goodfellas and Trainspotting, complete with jump cuts, whip pans, split screens, freeze frames, elliptical leaps back and forward in time, and wry, self-conscious narration. But City of God has its own unique soulfulness as it explores a vortex of intense poverty and violence that sucks in young men and boys of varied temperaments, who grow up more cynical and violent with each successive generation. Based on actual events and well-cast with nonprofessional young actors pulled from Cidade de Deus, a government-built slum outside Rio de Janeiro, the film exposes a shadow world just miles from a tourist paradise. Rocket (Alexandre Rodrigues), a good-natured boy who comically learns that he's not cut out to be a hoodlum, decides to become a photojournalist. He's the film's audience/author surrogate, narrator, and moral center. Lil' Dice (Douglas Silva), meanwhile, is a natural-born killer, a sociopath who craves power and loves violence. He grows up, changes his name to Lil' Zé (Leandro Firmino da Hora), and takes over most of the city's drug trade. They're surrounded by an assortment of colorful, well-drawn characters, each of whom eventually have to confront the consequences of their violent lifestyle. While Lil' Zé is the closest the film comes to a real villain, he's shown to be fully human, winning a little bit of audience sympathy when he confronts the fact that he can't find a girlfriend, before again veering off into psychotic mayhem. City of God is a thrilling, sardonically witty, vital, and disturbing cinematic tour de force.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Lions Gate
[Wide Screen]
[DTS 5.1-Channel Surround Sound, Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Sales rank:

Special Features

"News from a Personal War" Documentary

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Jonathan Haagensen Cabeleira
Matheus Nachtergaele Sandro Cenoura (Carrot)
Seu Jorge Mane Galinha
Alexandre Rodrigues Buscape
Phelipe Haagensen Bene
Leandro Firmino da Hora Ze Pequeno
Roberta Rodriguez Silvia Berenice
Douglas Siva Dadinho

Technical Credits
Fernando Meirelles Director
Kátia Lund Director
Tule Peake Art Director
Lamartine Ferreira Asst. Director
César Charlone Cinematographer
Marc Beauchamps Co-producer
Daniel Filho Co-producer
Hank Levine Co-producer
Vincent Maraval Co-producer
Donald Ranvaud Co-producer
Walter Salles Co-producer
Bia Salgado Costumes/Costume Designer
Ines Salgado Costumes/Costume Designer
Daniel Rezende Editor
Juliette Renaud Executive Producer
Elisa Tolomelli Executive Producer
Mauricio Andrade Ramos Producer
Andrea Barata Ribeiro Producer
Ed Cortes Score Composer
Antonio Pinto Score Composer
Braulio Mantovani Screenwriter
Guiherme Ayrosa Sound/Sound Designer
Martin Hernandez Sound/Sound Designer
Paulo Ricardo Nunes Sound/Sound Designer

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4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 26 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Simply breath taking, vivid portrayl, one of the best movies you will ever see, highly recommended, you get so sucked into it. 5 Stars, should be on all top 10 lists! I bet if it was an american film more people would have known about it and it would have been world renown.
JCWilkerson More than 1 year ago
Many movies try to recreate the real world, giving us a "true" story that's supposed to be gripping, gritty, and scary but never completely accomplishing the goal. Other times we get movies that would appear to give us what we were expecting if it weren't for the fact that they've been done over and over again. In 2002, though, Fernando Meirelles gave us a new story that showed us a new world. Focusing on the true story of Rocket as he grows up around the gangs in Cidade de Deus, a neighborhood in Rio de Janiero where gangs of children ran free to rob, loot, and deal drugs, City of God feels more like a documentary than a dramatic theatrical film. Narrated by Rocket (Alexandre Rodriguez), City of God begins with the story of the Tender Trio. The Tender Trio, a teenage gang that pretty much ran Cidade de Deus in the 60's which also included Rocket's brother Goose, robbed gas trucks at gun point, stealing the money and giving the propane to the people around them. They never made much off the money, so a young hanger on named Li'l Dice gave them the idea to rob the rich in a local hotel. Things don't go quite as planned and everyone in the hotel ends up dead, with the Tender Trio hunted by the police. Fast forward to the 70's and Li'l Dice, now Li'l Ze, is the most respected hood in Cidade de Deus. Having killed all the members of the hotel in the 60's robbery, and Goose, Rocket's brother after that, he got a taste of blood. As Rocket tries to avoid him, Li'l Ze kills off all the drug dealers in Cidade de Deus making way for him to be the only hookup in the slums. But, as he gains control of the slums, he kills the family of one man who is going to try his damnedest to take him down. City of God is a gangster movie through and through, but while you might see some things that remind you of other gangster movies you never feel that this movie is being derivative. The director does borrow things from, say, Martin Scorsese (e.g.: the talk of how drug dealing works in the slums reminded me of Casino), Meirelles always makes it his own. And while the movie is a gangster movie and does deal with a gangster making his way up the chain and ruling the crime world in a neighborhood, the movie never feels like it's taking the usual route, giving equal time to the rise of the Li'l Ze and to Rocket's venture in becoming a photojournalist and staying out of the crime world. The film looks absolutely amazing. The cinematography gives everything the feel of being in the sun drenched City in Rio de Janeiro. On top of that, the camera moves gives the film a sense of urgency and a certain freshness that makes everything feel that much more real. The writing reminds me a bit of Quentin Tarantino, it's a bit all over the place, but in a good way. As you meet a character that's important to the story your whisked away into the world of who they were before they entered into the story. It works in much the same way as Tarantino's ADD addled films, but never takes away from the story as it has in other films that have tried to copy the "Tarantino Method" so to speak.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Well, it took a while, but we have finally encountered a mind expanding movie, which has not been done since the old faithful Pulp Fiction and the likes! Sceptics of subtitles, fear not because you become so wrapped up in the events that you forget that they are there after only a few minutes. A must see, if only for you to have something to say to your colleagues or classmates during your break!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was lost for words, at one time I forgot that the movie was subttiled
Guest More than 1 year ago
When I watched City of God last year, I was shocked at its brutal honesty. One gets a sense of how the poor stay poor, live poor and die poor. It's not only about the drugs and the violence, but also about a political class that allows this kind of lunacy to reign in a country as rich and endowed as Brazil. It's a very sobering film.
Maldita More than 1 year ago
I watched this film back in college (Film Appreciation) and from then I started recommending this film to friends. It's really worth watching. City of God started my penchant for international films ( El Crimen del Padre Amaro, Ultima Parada 172, etc.) Now, I'm actually craving for more ! :)
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is, without question, one of the finest movies ever made; an incredible portrait of favela life in Rio, it's impossible to look away. The violence isn't cartoonish, but honest and brutal, never glossed-over or romanticized. Beautiful cinematography and amazing acting, powerful story, it doesn't get much better than this.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this movie! Though, I was deeply disturbed by the passion the young people had about wanting to be in control (so much that they killed for it) it was great! It was full of violence and drugs, if you are into that action filled movies. I mean, there is not hardly a moment of peace. The actors were also great - from the villian, Lil'Ze who was a hateful character to Rocket, a guy that always seemed to be in the mix - but not intentional. I recommend this movie to any one who likes variety of style in movies, because this is definetly different...
Guest More than 1 year ago
My Brazilian friend took me to see this movie last year when it came out in NYC. You find yourself engulfed in the storylines. I thought it was a cross between Scarface and Pulp Fiction. There's dark humor, stories within a story and based on what my friend says....it really is Brasil. I recommended this film to everyone I knew and each of them liked it, even my spanish friends who didn't know how to read the english subtitles well. You won't be dissappointed adding this film to your collection.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I must say that the camera work, the way the whole story intertwines upon itself to expose the past and present as a seamless entrance into the future events is amazing, from the start of watching this movie, you realize there is something is different, and as you watch u start to love it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was a cool beautiful movie... ... I have a lot of love for this film... GOOD WORK!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
it was the best movie i have ever seen
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have only ever rated one other movie on any rating system ever with 5 stars. All I can say is wow!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best drug movies I've seen since paid in full. Lots of action, crazy, and unbelievable things. Definitely a must see.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I saw Cidade de Deus on a trip to Brasil...on a trip where I saw the beauty of Brasil and all the good things Brasil has to offer. Then I saw Cidade de Deus. It offered a view of Brasil I ad not seen- and one I would not see, as entering into the favelas is only asking for trouble. I loved this film though. It depicts the horrors of the world all wrapped up into one favela and one community. Its real. Its life in Brasil. The filmography is amazing. The story is touching. It is violent. It is graphic. But it is amazing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was on the edge of my seat from the get-go. One of the best movies I have EVER seen. You get so into it that after a while you won't even notice the subtitles. I definilty recommend it to anyone and everyone.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This film is kinda like "Pulp Fiction" in the way that stories intertwine and lives intersect in many ways. Also, the photography and sound make the film a disorenting and distrubing rollercoster ride. It is a classic on every level.
Guest More than 1 year ago
One of the strongest and best movies I have ever seen! It shows the reality of a favela in Rio, in a very realistic and engaging way. When I first watched 'Cidade de Deus', I had to debrief it right after... it is just impossible to watch it and have no reaction! It makes you think and see the situation in the favelas under a different perspective. Very, very well done..... but.... be prepared! It is very very strong! On another note it is important that those who watch it know that Rio is much more than what the movie shows, and so is Brazil. In the same country where favelas exist, there is also samba and a group of VERY friendly people. Although what you will see in the movie is sad and true, those who visit Brazil will definitely see a different reality....
Guest More than 1 year ago
City of God is a more innovative movie in many ways, because it does glamorize the lifestyle of gangsters. These kids basically turn into killers, many of them and smoke reefer and screw while doing it and have nothing else to do. The police are equally barbaric in Third World Sao Paolo, Brazil in this independent, original film.
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