Gabriela details on the layout and appearance

Gabriela VeddersIntro to World CinemaProfessor MaiDecember 4, 2017Inside the City of God In the film City of God directed by Fernando Meirelles and Katia Lun (2002) the audience is exposed to one of the roughest and poorest neighbors in Rio de Janeiro. The way the story develops is non-linear. Instead of starting from the very beginning, the film begins near the end of the film. Rocket finds himself  stuck in the middle of a situation and then the film brings us to the beginning to let us know how he got there. To portray the violent and impoverished conditions of environment to viewers the directors used curtain elements and techniques to convey the audience’s reactions to characters and particular scenes. The techniques I will be focusing on that help portray the harsh aspects of the City of God is cutting/editing, angles, and sound. To start off, cutting plays a major impact in telling the films story even if you do not realize it.  This is because cutting gives the audience the knowledge they need to know to put the story line together. For example, the very first scene in City of God shows a group of people preparing chickens to eat. This scene is gruesome because it shows breaking chickens necks, pulling feathers, and slicing them open.  The cutting in City of God shows the audience the multiple scenes going on at the same time with different characters in different locations. In the scene with the chickens, before the chicken got loose the camera would go back and forth between the chicken, the sharpening of knives on a stone, and people making music. In between each a black screen would be shown to show a separate action happening. Once the chicken had escaped the camera would go back and forth between the gang chasing the chicken and the chicken itself. What makes the begin of the film so import is that it captures the scenes background from an overhead view which gives us details on the layout and appearance of the films location. The cutting was also done quickly by showing several shots in a short amount of time and putting the together to clash with each other to make a bigger impact. This technique also helps references the chaotic lifestyle of the characters. In 2004, the director of City of God Fernando Meirelles was interviewed by Nitrate Online to discuss his breakthrough film. In the blog MiraMax, the article wrote about the film’s famous opening scene where the chicken escapes death and runs throughout the favela trying to escape. Meirelles comment on this the following by stating, “Believe it or not,” Meirelles laughs, “that scene was completely improvised.  In fact, it was done in one take. It was by chance that we pulled it off. Maybe the chicken heard that we were improvising. It definitely wasn’t planned.” (MiraMax Blog) After learning about the improvised scene, it truly made think about how after only having one shot and editing that one shot can make the scene seem originally planned for the film. This truly shows how editing can really make a difference in a film.A great example of an editing technique is when the audience learned the story of the gangs drug apartment over time. In order to show the diminishment of the apartment the camera had a wide angle and with a deep focus. This gave viewer a clearer perspective with a full view of the apartment and the people in it throughout. In the beginning, the apartment looked like a normal living space but over time with each new owner that appeared and then faded away the layout, walls, and lighting would get darker and dirtier which helped put together the picture in viewers minds that this indeed was a drug house. Another example of cutting/editing is the scene after Li’l Zé as a child murders everyone in the hotel in the beginning of the film. As employees and guest are lying dead we are triggered with sadness from the tragedy as the camera moved from murder scene to murder scene. These techniques help display emotion and understanding for the audience. Along with cutting and editing, angles also make an impact in each scene. In a previous reaction paper, I mentioned examples of camera angles like a high camera angles in the favelas and low camera angles when Li’l Zé appeared on screen. The high camera angles give the idea about the favelas that they are spacious and the camera has a free rage of motion. Comparing the favelas from the beginning of the movie to the homes in the end you seen quite a dramatic change. The favelas give open aspect compared to the the small villages where everything seems tight and claustrophobic. This really shows how close in proximity people live to gang violence.  After Li’l Zé’s dies the film begins to slow down and we start to see long shots. The gang war is over and things can return to normality. However, this normality last for about three seconds because then the children appear with guns discussing who they want to kill next after murdering Li’l Zé . Since Lil’ Ze is now dead, the children become the new generation of towns gang. In a blog called sjfilmhistory on wordpress, they referenced the ending of the film by saying, “At this point, the movie has gone in a complete circle and the older generation has been completely forgotten and the storyline now revolves around this new generation of teenagers in the favela.”  The circle of criminal gang members starts off with characters such as Shaggy and Goose, when they are gone the film moves on to Carrot and Li’l Zé, and lastly the film ends with the group of children that live in the favelas alwell. It is easy to say that this is definitely not the last gang to run the favelas either.  The last technique I will be discussing from the film City of God is Sound. The use of the sound in this film creates the illusion that everything that is happening in each scene is realistic. What makes the film bring you back to reality is the narration throughout the film but is somewhat necessary to understand what happened in the slums in Rio de janeiro from someone who actually experienced it.  Sound that was noticed throughout the film was the use of music. Music helped emphasize scenes create a pleasant sound to a violent scene. For example, when Shaggy and his friends are robbing the hotel guests, you hear a guitar being playing with a catching fast samba rhythm that seems more for  a party, we also get a similar feel for this type of music when Carrot and his gang rob a bank in the city. In this scene, we hear more of a soft samba for a scene that is chaotic. The use of music in the film is sound that is entertaining that creates smooth transitions, sets a mood for the audience, and stimulates the audience’s emotions to particular scenes.                           Lastly, I want to point out the fact that this film is actually based on a true story. The last scene of the film, the narrator which we know as rockets reveals himself with his new name Wilson Rodrigues and his job as a professional photographer. I think this makes the audience feel even more intertwined and relatable with the film. After finding out that the film is based on a true story, I rethought everything I watch and about how well that was put together not knowing it was based on a true story. Now knowing, I think it is quite amazing that cinema is about to create a real experience with such detail and cinematic techniques,In conclusion, each on of the following techniques help create a meaningful understanding to the film.  The story of the City of God used these techniques to create appeal and set a tone for the audience. The fast-paced editing and cutting developed transitions with a chaotic feel to help portray the chaos in the favelas lifestyle.  Angles helped portray the layout of locations and the authority of character and lastly, the sound helped set a mood and evoked emotions for the audience. A lesson to be taken from the film is that each technique makes a big contribution to the film, just because you live in the slums doesn’t mean you have to act like you are one, and finally, in this world there is always going to be a continuous circle of violence.