City Of God – Malevolent Archetypes

Quick Thoughts: City Of God (Cidade de Deus, 2002)

Made by Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund, this is the Brazilian film of the series.

City Of God

Whilst I wouldn’t say that this is a modern masterpiece, I would certainly say that City Of God is a tremendous movie. Primarily, it is a great example of hyperlink cinema and incredible world building. Added to this are a plethora of great characters and an engaging story. The only downfalls with City Of God in my view would then be that there’s too much of a focus on style as opposed to content and story. This isn’t an overwhelmingly damaging negative of this movie, there is just a bit too much of a concentration on form and plot that leaves the aesthetics and brutal nature of this narrative more of a spectacle and less of an artful means of building, commenting and projecting a world.

With that said, City Of God does quite well in constructing a story about the cycle of poverty and violence. However, this is nothing incredibly original and this narrative, in all honesty, doesn’t say much more than films such as Los Salvadorian and Bicycle Thieves – which are undeniably great–even masterpieces. But, utilising the brilliant editing, style and structure of this narrative, City Of God does manage to conjure an incredibly nihilist sense of despair through its projection of endless malevolence, violence and crime. This is by and large captured by Lil’ Z, who is one of the most vindictive motherfuckers ever put to screen. His character perfectly encapsulates a force in society and human nature that is relentlessly violent and destructive. And so it’s despite the order he brings to his City Of God that Lil’ Z represents chaos of the most poisonous kind; he is structural chaos that is embedded deeply into a community and society. Because Lil’ Z encapsulates this archetype with such visceral verisimilitude, there arises that immense sense of meaninglessness and insurmountable evil from City Of God when it ends so openly, imbued only with an unstable sense of resolve.

It’s this that makes City Of God such a worthwhile movie, one that should be watched for its use of this evil archetype. So, whilst wouldn’t say that this is a movie I can revisit often as it is one you dread going into because of its devastating impact, City Of God is undeniably brilliant and a movie everyone needs to see at least once.

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