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City of God: A Novel Paperback – September 14, 2006
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For instance, Rocket is a minor character in the book, Lil Ze is based on a character named Tiny, and the 'Tender Trio' is based on the characters Squirt, Hellraiser and Hammer. Carrot (called 'Carrots'in the book) and Knockout Ned (simply called 'Knockout') are about the only characters in the book that fans of the movie will recognize right off the bat. There's no mention of The Runts specifically, but dozens of other youngsters are. So many characters are introduced and killed off that it was impossible for me to keep up, but fans of the movie will notice bits and pieces of specific characters. Almost all the characters in the film are creations from several other characters in the book.
The book is more violent than the film. Paulo Lins describes the massacred bodies in grafic detail. The last third of the book (well over 100 pages) deals with the war between Knockout and Tiny.
Cocaine and marijuana is mentioned repeatedly throughout the book. Almost every character seems to use or deal the drugs. The world of dope dealing is thouroughly investigated in this book.
Paulo Lins does an amazing job of telling the story of the City of God, but for me it was hard to keep up with the countless characters. The film makers did a great job of adapting this massive story. So if your a fan of the movie, and want to get a different perspective of this Brazilian hell-hole, then check out the book, just don't expect it to be just like the film.
During the time this movie was made there were 100,000 people involved in the drug trade in Rio. The City of Rio required 100,000 civil servants to run the city. The sole reason for the existence of the State (i.e., protection of the serfs) is taken over by the drug dealer (if you are in his good graces). Do you see what a government is competing with? As a result, the police in Rio are said to be the best trained urban street fighting outfit in the world because they have to operate like an army. How can there ever be enough money or police to stop the drug trade? Is it clear things have gotten out of control? And this is how it is all over the third world. So how did this happen? What do you do - you can't contain it within its favela walls? The job of the police is now to try to protect the neighborhoods of the rich and middle class. Is this the true state of capitalism with regard to rich and poor in most of the world? I fear City of God is just the tip of the iceberg.
Based on a true story, this movie is raw, unadulterated life in which people whose God is violence, sex, drugs or even a pair of Nikes are living and dying, where the family is the gang and manhood is proven in sadistic ways. Not being able to choose where you are born, how do you raise a child under these circumstances? If you are a missionary, how do you approach this place? How do you impart the wisdom of God to those who live by the wisdom of the world? Can you see how hard it is to save yourself? You have no bootstraps by which to pull yourself up if you have no boots. If as a viewer, you feel despair, how must it be for people who are raised in this beautiful place called hell who don't know they are living in hell but hell it is?
This is a groundbreaking film because it exposes everything naked before us, beautifully shot and acted by real children of the favelas. It is the place that should be envisioned when people want to practice their think tank-elitist theories on how to stop recruitment by Osama Bin Laden in the slums of Afghanistan or Pakistan or Palestine. Or how to continue a fight against drugs. Do the math. Understanding violence and its power is important by those of us who can't even dispose of a dead mouse in a mousetrap or who have never even seen one.
The film is based on a book of the same name. The director was given the book by a friend and told he needed to make this film. He said - I don't want to make a film about the favelas of Rio, but by page 100 he found himself making director's notes in the margin of the book. It is a great film and from a Christian perspective I believe despite the violence and cursing it is a must see film for anyone who wants to make a difference in the world or who is studying the human condition, including but not limited to diplomats, corporate CEOs, social scientists, social workers, cultural anthropologists, psychologists, criminal attorneys & missionaries. There is a documentary which accompanies this movie on the DVD which is excellent. City of God has a glimmer of hope with the