City of God

City of God

21.jpgJason Von Berg
jB Productions

Documentary response to The City of God

The caption on the DVD box states, “15 Miles from paradise… one man will do anything to tell the world everything.” In an environment where most children are almost expected to become involved with gangs and drugs, Rocket decides to tell the story of his peers, their choices and what exactly he did differently. Who is Rocket? He is the narrator of the story He had two options, to join the rest of his generation or to do something a lot differently, a lot more positively. He chose to partake in a different type of shooting. This will be discussed later on in this discussion. I would like to point out at this stage that this is based on a true story and that as a journalist, and film producer the issue that we are interested in with regards to this film/ documentary, and the greater world, is what the truth is, and how we choose to represent it.
The first scene is a chase sequence of young children running through the streets after a chicken. It brings about the idea of a cat and mouse scenario, I would suggest, in that the boys are looking to eat. It becomes apparent that there is more to this cat and mouse idea then what is presented at first glance i.e. it is an extended metaphor for an even greater battle.
There is a sudden change in scenes in terms of back tracking to an earlier time frame. Rocket introduces us, as viewers to the “Tender Trio,” made up of Clippy, Shaggy and Goose by Rocket. The so called City of God is represented in a very barren sort of way. In other words it is significant to note that as the “City of God” this is not what most people would come to expect as the typical paradise. The trio stops their game of soccer in order to follow through with a robbery. When they hijack the truck driver for gas, I personally could not help but think of the story of Robin Hood, in terms of how they steal from the rich to give to the poor, aka themselves. There is a really good chase sequence again when the gang and all of those around realize that the officials are on their way. Again the idea of the battle or looking for something is evident in that they know their way around the town, and to prevent themselves from being locked up or taken into custody. Rocket continues to narrate the story and it is at this stage that the trio decides to take their gang to new heights. They rob a whore house, and leave Li’l Dice on watch for the police, with a gun. His character becomes a lot more important and significant as the film progresses. The robbery is not enough for Li’l Dice who decides to go ahead with the warning signal for the trio, who as a result flee the scene. Li’l Dice wiped out all of those who were in the whore house, to fulfill his desire. The three are slowly but surely wiped out, and Li’l Dice becomes Li’l Ze, the main ring leader.
As a South African I would suggest there are many links of the film to our own land in that many children are forced into these lifestyles out of pure desperation. In the seminar on Monday lecturer Paul Hills mentioned that director Gavin Hood of the Oscar-winning film “Tsotsi” made the cast watch this film in order to draw inspiration and also on their own experiences when filming commenced on the local production.
Rocket at the end of the film is faced with the ‘shooting’ of a life time. He at this stage has become a journalist with a particular interest in photography and when the police let Li’l Ze go free, only to start the corruption and drug trafficking again he is forced to take cover, as the little hoodlums or the Redits turn the tables and kill Li’l Ze. It shows how the new generation has emerged. The point of this is that Rocket captures the shooting on camera. He therefore has a variety and an array of pictures that can be used in the newspaper. It is a known fact that these gangs are not afraid to use drastic measures to get what they. So in order to protect himself from the bandits, he changes his name.
In all the documentaries that we have watched we have been bombarded with constant questions of ethics, and how the different journalists deal with the different situations. For example in Good Men Do Nothing the journalists were absolutely useless in terms of not being able to do anything, whereas in this documentary Rocket fears for his own life at the end. He has a task at hand, and he knew that something of the sort would happen, but he kept a low profile behind the walls and captured what he needed to. In terms of the production it is definitely a good indication of what actually happenedm, and the cinematography is indicative of this in that it seems to be abruptly shot, and almost amateur looking. I would suggest that this has been deliberately done, to give the effect that it did indeed achieve.

This documentary touches on many issues including drugs, gangsterism, rape and violence. As a production this is really good because it covers issues that are prevalent in our society today and it provides viewers with the issue. I would hope that a production like this leaves viewers touched and questioning how they can indeed prevent further complications, actions, or events such as this one happening again

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