Rio de Janeiro is associated with the life full of sunshine and vivid colors of the festival. The movie City of God (Cidade de Deus) directed by Fernando Meirelles represents the other side of life in Rio de Janeiro which is closer to reality.
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Rio de Janeiro is characterized by specific planning where the central part of the city is occupied by the wealthiest categories of the population when the poor people are isolated in special surrounding territories which similar to ghettos, and they are known as favelas.
The aspects of everyday life in the favela called the City of God are discussed in the movie. The isolated character of the territory contributes to creating the specific social environment within the favela where life is ruled according to the principles of street life and gangs’ laws.
Favelas as any isolated slums represent the specific urban ghetto where the population suffers from extreme poverty (Mennel 169).
From this point, the rules of the city’s planning in Rio de Janeiro are developed to divide the population into social classes and increase the stratification which affects the development of the social life in favelas.
The life of those people living in favelas surrounding the center of Rio de Janeiro differs significantly from the life of the upper social classes. The social stratification reflected in the city’s planning is a result of prolonged governmental policy.
Favelas are inhabited by the poor population whose fathers were isolated many years ago because of their social status. These territories are firstly inhabited with immigrants and poor people having no rights to live in the center of the city.
The majority of the first inhabitants of favelas are poor people seeking for work in Rio de Janeiro. The period of the 1960s-1980s is characterized by the increase of the organized crime in favelas.
Thus, the life of people in these territories during the 1960s-1980s is regulated by the criminal gangs’ leaders. The war of gangs’ leaders is discussed in the City of God, presenting the real aspects of the people’s lives in the slums of Rio de Janeiro.
The features of the city’s planning contribute to creating the micro-environments of ghettos or favelas which develop according to such values as violence, crime, guns, and drugs.
According to Bromley, cities’ streets provide people with public areas and private spaces necessary for the effective everyday living (Bromley 163). The inhabitants of the City of God are not provided with opportunities to have enough private space because of the limits of the occupied territories.
That is why, the lives of all the inhabitants of the favela are closely connected, and the rule of the gangs’ laws is more obvious because of the tight social connections.
Thus, the families who live in the slums of Rio de Janeiro suffer not only from the lack of private space and poverty but also from the impact of the youth gangs which regulate the life in favelas. The social system is built about the interactions between gangs and families.
In the City of God, the challenges of life in the favela are represented with the help of depicting the conflict between the positions of two young men who grew in the City of God. Rocket and Li’l Dice are brought up according to the violent laws of living in a favela.
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However, the principles of the urban ghetto influence two young men differently. If Li’l Dice is ready to follow the life of the favela’s gangster, Rocket strives for escaping from the isolated territories of the favela to live another life (“City of God”).
Referring to the principles and social rules of living in the favela, it is possible to state that Rocket’s choice seems to be more difficult to realize because Rocket is the representative of the poorest category of the Latin American population.
Thus, “seventy-five percent of the Latin American population and nearly 70 percent of those at or below the poverty line now live in urban areas” (“Latin American “Street Children”: Living on the Edge” 197).
The youth is the most problematic category because the majority of young people in favelas choose to become gangsters and join the most influential gang in the slums.
Those people depicted in the City of God have to live in isolation from the rest of Rio de Janeiro, and their social status does not provide them with the opportunity to break the line between the favela and the rest of the city.
From this point, the social norms and laws typical for the slums are perceived by the people living in these territories as normal because they did not see the other life. As a result, the social stratification becomes more intensive and the distance between different social classes increases.
In his movie, Fernando Meirelles depicts children who dream about joining the gang because it is normal for their society, and this event can help them find the sources for a living (“City of God”).
It is unnecessary to follow some strict and complex rules of Brazilian society if it is possible to obtain some money with the help of a gun.
The environments in which people live in the City of God are dangerous slums without any conditions for living. People have to live in jerry-built sheds and suffer from the lack of elementary facilities to make their life appropriate.
The unbearable conditions of living and poverty make the inhabitants of these slums seek for any sources of money and food. That is why, the participation in gangs, crimes, and violence are discussed as necessary to survive in these conditions.
The moral degradation of the favelas’ population is associated with the environments in which these people live and with the social patterns which they observe every day. Poverty and territorial, economic, and social isolation make these people rather inhumane and violent.
Favelas represented in the City of God are the example of the isolated urban ghetto where life is regulated according to specific rules and norms, and society develops according to the other values.
The environments of slums in Rio de Janeiro make people create a unique world and live according to the principles of violence and degradation.
The problem is in the isolated character of the slums which were inhabited by the people who could not live in the center of the city because of their low social status.
Thus, the social stratification is intensified, and the focus on the isolating slums leads to the increase of the crime rate at the territories. Poverty is the main driving force for the people living in favelas, and authorities cannot control the growth of gangs in the slums.
Bromley, Ray. “Working in the Streets: Survival Strategy, Necessity, or Unavoidable Evil?” The Urbanization of the Third World. Ed. Joseph Gugler. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988. 161-179. Print.
City of God. 2002. Video file. Web..
“Latin American “Street Children”: Living on the Edge”. Cities and Urban Life. Ed. John Macionis and Vincent Parrillo. USA: Pearson, 2009. 197. Print.
Mennel, Barbara. “Ghettos and Barrios”. Cities and Cinema. Ed. Barbara Mennel. New York: Routledge, 2009. 153-176. Print.