Film Form

This weeks blog was focused on film form and to analyse the opening scene to City of God, a 2002 film that sheds light into a dark world illustrating ‘the growth of organised crime in the Cidade de Deus suburb of Rio De Janeiro, between the end of the 1960s and the beginning of the 1980s’ (Wikipedia, 2016).

A City of God by Siobhon van der Merwe on

Watching over the city of Rio De Janeiro in Brazil is the giant statue Christ the Redeemer (Corcovado). If you looked at the religious symbolism of the statue and the title City of God, you may not be wrong in assuming that this symbolism is mirrored in the title of the movie. The title also implies that there is an omnipotent power that provides the city with a guardian (with the statue watching over the city from the mountain top).

The editing is quick and sharp, which is a metaphor for the blade, which is being sharpened to kill the chickens for the pot. The cuts constantly follow the chicken, and combined with extreme close ups to illustrate the fear and panic of the chicken as he sees the other chickens being slaughtered. This mirrors the human society in the slums.  The reaction to the chicken’s escape is extreme – similar to what will happen to a human if he or she tries to escape the gangs. The edits give the feeling of speed and haste and also a psychotic enjoyment of the animals terror. The images, together with the style of mis-en-scene editing, creates an impression that the town is unsafe and violent.

The opening scene of Act 1 in City of God uses these techniques to show the audience that it’s a very dark, unsafe and chaotic environment. There are verbal and visual metaphors of chickens such as chickening out in the soccer scene at the end of the clip, which cements the element of fear and need to escape.

The constant imagery of a large open mouth with lots of teeth imply savagery and being devoured, which is symbolic of the city and society’s cruelty, engulfing the people who live there.

Colour has been de-saturated which gives a depressive, foreboding feeling, mirroring the peoples feeling of hopelessness and desperation in the slums. The old oil drums used for cooking are also lacking in colour. They are primitive, much like their cooking methods, and the behavior of those chasing the chicken.

The sound is sharp; the cluck of a distressed chicken mixing with the sharpening of a blade and the short, angry shouts of people and sharp gunshots mirror the jump cuts. Mixed into this is a narrative, which in the introduction consists mostly of angry shouts, aggressive language and facial expressions. This mixed bag of narrative and non-narrative along with the contribution of cinematography draws the audience into the story and the desperation of life in the slum.

City of God clip

City of God (2002 film)


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