City of God analysis

Posted: October 17th, 2013





City of God analysis

            Planning is fundamental for the development of any city or region. Planning plays an important role in the social and economic development within a region. Movies and films offer a clear reflection of the structure and planning of the regions in the film setting. One outstanding example of the structure and planning is the film “City of God.” This movie reveals the social network within a planned community established to restructure itself after a natural disaster. The movie highlights the consequences of poor organization and planning within a city. Some of the planning issues in the movie include; education, social network, public housing, urban crime, lack of social and economic mobility, urban slums and the global city. These issues are reflected in the characters, lifestyles and the setting of the movie.

Education is instrumental for individual development. Education is also a driving force for the development of any nation. Rio de Janeiro represents cities in developing nations. Education in the film “City of God” is accessible but many people are ignorant. The main character Rocket, attempts to establish his life by attending school to fulfill his dream of becoming a professional journalist. Though he does not get formal education, he practices with his camera. However, L’il Zee disregards school to engage into a life of crime. The whole movie signifies the level of ignorance of the characters that lack basic education. Most of these children have thronged the streets to engage in criminal activities (Gottdiener, 281).

Global cities are described as those cities that have an invaluable impact in the global economy. The film “City of God” is set in the city of Rio de Janeiro. This was a period when the city was undergoing economic development. The city has numerous economic activities. These activities are mainly attributed to the beautiful scenery, culture of the people, various landmarks, exemplary beaches and Carnaval celebration. Therefore, the city is a major tourist attraction that contributes to the world market. However, similar to other global cities, Rio commonly referred to as “The city of God” in the movie faces numerous challenges. These challenges include crime, insecurity, gangs and economic disparities. Ultimately, planning and management of such global cities is made difficult.

The disruption of social order within a social system can cause social changes and challenges. In the film, the social context in Rio has changed and diverted from the traditional structure. Deviant behavior among gangs is considered the norm in the anarchic society. In addition, this society is marred by murders, theft, burglary, conflicts, drug, and substance abuse. The high levels of poverty and lawlessness foster such social activities. Lil Z has taken the role of owning the “city of God.” He therefore executes this role by inflicting violence and fear on the people and other vulnerable gang members. There are social inequalities that exist in the city. Social inequalities are common in social context that have poverty and lawlessness (Mennel, 154). These disparities negatively affect the planning and development of the city.

The film portrays Rio as a city that is highly populated. The population according to the film is also increasing. Massive rural urban migration is a common phenomenon in cities like Rio de Janeiro. Government housing in “The city of God” was established in a Brazilian project Cidade de Deus on the outskirts of the city. This project was aimed at curbing the housing problem that was faced by the influx of people from the rural areas. However, the Favela in the movie shows a different outcome of the project. Majority of the characters in the movie lack proper housing provided by the government. Housing according to the movie is seen as a luxury. These problems in housing led to the establishment of slums such as Favela.

The film is set in a slum in Rio called the Favela. Urban cities in developing nations are characterized by slums and informal settlements. Some of these settlements are attributed to poor government planning and lack of proper housing. The environment within these slums is usually that of poor sanitation. People in these slums therefore live in deplorable conditions. People in these slums also lack proper facilities for health and sanitation. Where the facilities are available, they are inadequate. Favela is a zone that gives a vivid description of the deplorable conditions in slums. Informal settlements cause congestion within the city leading to poor distribution of social amenities and resources.

Gang and criminal activity are dominant in most cities across the globe. “The city of God” is not exempted from gangs and criminal activities. In the area where Rocket lives, criminals and gangs walk free. The people in the city protect these criminal and in return, they are guaranteed their security. People in the movie have to resort to crime in order to meet their daily requirements. People use violence as a means of meeting their needs. Earning a decent living in the Favela is not easy and many people end up engaging in crime. Criminal activities are carried out by L’il Zee and other characters. These criminal activities cause insecurity within the city.

The Favela has gangs that control the criminal activity. Rocket and L’il Zee join opposing gangs to further their agenda. These gangs are used in controlling the drug trade and instill fear among people in the community. L’il Zee has established himself as a leader that rules over the people in Favela. He is also the leader of his gang, oversees, and mandates all their procedures in conducting crime. People are therefore of these criminals and cannot report them to security organs. These gangs are violent and posses dangerous weapons. People have been killed by these gang members and criminals who posses guns. Generally, criminal activities cause insecurity (Cavin, 152). High levels of insecurity lead to low levels of investment and poor planning development.

Societies with similar features with the community in the movie record low rates of social and economic mobility. The people living in these poor conditions are unable to progress towards development. Therefore, the status quo is maintained. The poor people living in circumstances such as insecurity, crime, lack of proper facilities and low education do not experience significant progress in development. These conditions do provide a suitable environment for poor communities to escape poverty. However, Rocket is able to grow his photography talent in order to reestablish his life away from poverty. Clearly, anyone attempting to leave the life in the Favela, seeking a better lifestyle has been killed or they die in the process. This aspect of symbolism of the movie shows that escaping the poverty in Favela is impossible.

In conclusion, the film “City of God” is a clear definition of most cities in the world. These cities face similar challenges and the characters are a representation of average people living in such settings. The incorporation of film in understanding planning of cities and regions is important in explaining the development of such areas. Therefore, the film is an essential resource in planning and identifying the problems and issues that are involved in the development process.



Work cited

Cavin, Andrew. Urban Planning. New York: H.W. Wilson, 2003. Print.

Gottdiener, Mark, and Ray Hutchison. The New Urban Sociology. Boulder, Colo: Westview Press, 2006. Print.

Mennel, Barbara. Cities and Cinema. London: Routledge, 2008. Print.

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