Monday, February 20, 2012

Cidade de Deus - City of God: Film Review


A film by Fernando Heirlles

                Rio de Janeiro (meaning, River of January) in my mind was a city of god. It was a city of joy, excitement, modernity and plenty. Any search on internet will give one, a perfect picture of a city that is affluent, colourful, joyous and plentiful. But as is the case with any city, there is an underside to this developed face of Rio too. The blue seas and the cool breeze of the city are actually a facade that covers up a bunch of stark truths.
            Rocket’s life is the life of a city dweller. City for him is home. And his home is not in the colourful part of the city. Where Rocket lived, city was coloured grey and sometimes RED with blood. It is the city of god still, because a number of human beings could make a living in the grey part of the city. What makes a city that of god is love towards life. What made the city grey and red was in fact its affinity for life. In Rio’s grey colonies, its crowds and the hoodlums were all trying to make a living.
            Made in a very different style, City of God shows glimpses of real life from the city. The film made me look away from the screen many times. Though violence and sex are part of life as is politics and love, such stark depictions are rare in Indian films. The language used by the hoodlums’ language, constant fear of death, search for adventure and money, etc. come out well in the film. I don’t think I would be able to sit through the film even if I wish to. I will have to train myself to enjoy such film too.
            If I made this film, there would be more of suggestions of violence and death, than actual on screen scenes. The reasons are: either that Indian culture is mild or that Indian culture tries to look away from harsh realities- a kind of escapism!

Sajit M. Mathews