The international success of city of god has been explained because ‘it’s a film that deals with social concerns, but expresses them in the style of MTV.’ In reference to the style of specific sequences, discuss this view of the film.
I think that this is quite an accurate view of the film. There are many ways that the styles of ‘MTV’ are portrayed in the film, and this is shown in multiple ways, and in many different scenes. I will also use the opening sequence of the film as one of my main focal points.
The first ‘style of MTV’ that I will be looking at is the fast, quick cuts. This film uses them a lot, and they are often used in western films to build tension in the fast action scenes. This is because you get a really fast influx of action all in one go, which slightly confuses the watcher, and gives you the illusion that it is happening really fast. City of God uses this extensively in the opening sequence of the film, as the fast cuts that the camera does is suiting to the festival-like atmosphere of what is happening in the scene. Then the cuts stop, allowing a break from the fast paced environment, and then start again when the chicken is chased through the streets.
I feel that this scene is representative of the whole narrative, and they shot it this way because the whole narrative is about fast-paced environments and action, so the fast quick cuts could be representing what will happen later on throughout the film.
Another example of this would be in the scene when the boys go to rob the people in the hotel. The fast and quick cuts, along with the music, start to build tension in the film and this builds up, faster and faster until ultimately, the climax of the action is reached when the shots are fired and they run from the police, and then the shots are much longer again, showing that they are no longer in danger and they have gotten away from the action.
Another example of this kind of camerawork would be in the scene that Benny dies in the nightclub. The music is diagetic in this scene, but even then it is still used to build up the tension between the characters on screen at the time. Also, the flashing lighting in the club is cleverly used as it makes it hard to tell whats happening, for example you get a flash of a person holding a gun, then there is shots and someone falls to the ground but you can’t really tell who it is, this really makes the scene a lot more action-packed, as its hard to tell what is happening so its quite a shock when you find out what really happened.
Another thing that is now in the style of MTV is the way that the music is influenced by what is happening on screen. For example; when the chicken is being chased in the opening sequence as well as when they are being killed at the very beginning, the music is fast paced, and with a quick beat. When the action stops, the music totally cuts out. This is because there is no more action, so there is no need for any tension to be built up.
I feel that this does relate to the international success of this film as it is shot in a way that a western audience can relate to, as it is now used in the majority of western films. I think that if this film had been created in a totally different style, then a western audience would not be able to relate to it, and the film would not have been as much of a success as it has been. I think that western audiences are quite prejudice about films, and this is why there is not a very large fan base for foreign films in the western world.
On the other hand, the narrative and the way that it was showing how life in Brazil is, and the way you feel for the characters also helped a lot in its success. The fact that the film is based on true events makes it even more shocking, and this could be another reason why the film is such a huge success internationally. It also could even compensate if the film was shot in a different style, although I feel it still wouldn’t have been as much of a success as it has been.