The City of God (2002) gives the viewer an eye to the urban Brazilian culture and the social issues such as the brutality of gang war and violence faced by marginalised communities (“City of God Analysis”, 2015). The cinematic elements such as the urban setting, editing style and use of background score further elevates the realistic perspective of their street lifestyle and culture, and connects the viewer directly into that urban space (Griffin, 2013).
The core asset of the film is the sense of the realism and authenticity that is communicated through a combination of film editing techniques that creates a natural flow and continuity between shots. The film’s opening scene is a collection of fast cut shots of images of the knife, chicken, and the chopping of vegetables juxtaposed together, flipping back and forth building tension and creates a sense of terror and brutality and complements the urban setting and the Brazilian street food culture. The speed of the images shifting from one to another creates dynamics and pulsates the rhythm of the shot sequence. The rhythmic editing of these fast cuts further establishes the mood of terror and suspense and adds to the important theme of the story. The combination of editing techniques such as the graphic match, where the character Rocket is positioned to catch the chicken is matched with the 360 degree rotational shot of him being in the centre of the playfield between the battle with the gangster boys, confused of which direction to turn to, shows the similarities of the events or situations that the character is facing. This further provides an impression that the story of the film is revolved around Rocket decisions in life and the directions he must take.
The opening scene of the film starting with the sound effect of the knife sharpening draws so much attention, and the viewer is immediately disturbed and terrified with the thought of what chaos is about to happen. The use of diegetic sound effects such as the knife, stove, chicken, chopping of vegetables and the Brazilian tambourine highlights the cultural aspects and the feel of the urban setting and allows the audience to immediately connect the flash of images into the perspective of the narration. Furthermore, the use of the rhythmic soundtrack of the Brazilian drums during the chase of the chicken down the street, adds pulse and patterns to the movement of the visual images shown on-screen and further enhances the suspenseful mood and intensity of the atmosphere. Similarly, the manipulation of sound characteristics like volume and tempo, variates throughout the opening scene; starting off with the loud sound of knives and then transitioning into a highly rhythmic drum beat during the chase and then transitioning into a very minimal background score while two different new characters are introduced and they initiate their dialogs(allows the viewer to draw attention to the characters, who they are and what they are talking about) and then transitions back to the street music to connect or create continuity of the scenes and the narration. It is through such cinematic accomplishments that make this film a rich and brilliant form of text, which powerfully communicates meanings.
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