City of God Fernando Meirelles

City of God Fernando Meirelles
Two years after its initial theatrical release, City of God is finally finding its way home on DVD. It's been worth it, but the wait for many has been unbearable — acclaim for this stunning Brazilian chronicle of young life in Rio De Janeiro's largest slums has been enthusiastic and universal. And rightfully so. The film chronicles the life of our young narrator Rocket and his attempts to survive in the favela (slum) while avoiding the two paths that seem to be his inevitable fate: join the undermanned cops to fight a futile war against his own people; or become a "dealer" and have more control over the daily minutia but no future outside the criminal underground. Rocket seeks a different path through photography. And while City of God is a true story, one of the elements that's lacking on this DVD are extras to outline whose story it is and how closely the true events hue to the story as it beautifully unfolds here. Appropriately, context comes not from these individual stories but from the big picture of events in Rio's favelas, in the form of the hour-long documentary News From A Personal War, made in the late 1990s. It chronicles cops, dealers, neighbours and administrators, including a shockingly candid interview with the chief of police, who freely admits that an honest police force is not in the best interests of the country. They are soldiers in a war where the criminal element in the favelas has organised not just for battle but for a pseudo-governing social body that helps feed, clothe and protect its citizens, even under the umbrella of dealing in drugs and arms. City of God provides a lyrical, artful microcosm, but News From A Personal War gives a bigger picture look that alters your perception of the feature film when you return to it. (Alliance Atlantis)