The Evolution of City of Men

Director Meirelles shows the passion, darkness, and fervor of life in the favela.

by | June 25, 2008 | Comments

Brazilian slums known as “favelas” paint a distinct landscape
for Rio de Janeiro. Hollywood films dance with this shantytown imagery — the
recent theatrical release of The Incredible Hulk comes to mind — but
only as a scenic jumping point to explosions, gunfights and special effects.

Director Fernando Meirelles, however, brings to life the
complexity of struggles, passions, and fervor of life in the “favela,” first with
his crime drama film City of God, then with the TV mini-series City of
, and most recently with the movie adaptation of City of Men. Not being
content to portray the neighborhoods as simply urban eye-candy backdrop, City
of God
(Meirelles’s first film, co-directed with Kátia Lund) in 2003 honed
in on the gritty lifecycle of the “favelas,” covering a two-decade time span. In
that duration, we see the five main characters being transformed by the
oppressive poverty and crime in the region, and see the fruits of their toils as
they grow up from child to adolescent to adult.

The authenticity of the experience set apart City of
from mainstream films, which can take on an empathetic but condescending
perspective on poverty. For casting, there was only one professional actor with extensive film experience: Matheus Nachtergaele, who played Cenoura (Carrot).
The rest were select from of the real-life City of God favela and placed into an
intensive acting workshop for several months, where they learned to improvise
and reenact shootouts (an all-too common occurrence in the brutal cocaine drug

The film received critical acclaim, scoring a
92% on Rotten Tomatoes,
and became the highest-grossing foreign film of 2003 in the United States.

Following City of God‘s international success,
directors Kátia Lund and Fernando Meirelles made an off-shoot TV show, called City
of Men
. Airing on Brazilian television in 2002, it starred Douglas Silva
(who also appeared in City of God) as Acerola and Darlan Cunha as
Laranjinha. Acerola and Laranjinja are best friends, growing up as bright-eyed
teenagers wanting to fulfill their dreams and aspirations. Contrasting to the
darker and bloody mood of its cinematic predecessor, City of Men took a
more light-hearted approach to life in a Rio favela, while still covering issues
of poverty and drug war.

After a four-season TV run, City of Men was turned
into a full-fledged movie by the same name. Released internationally at the
end of 2007, the film was directed by Paulo Morelli and produced by Meirelles. Starring the same duo of Acerola and Laranjinha, the
18-year-old friends find themselves at a crossroads. As they grow older, the
threat and allure of falling into the ranks of a Rio favela gang become all the
more real, and a dark secret from the past jeopardizes their long-forged
friendship. They also each bear their own burdens — Laranhinja sets out to find
a father he never met; Acerola struggles with a precocious life of matrimony and
caring for a son. In contrast to the TV show, the motion picture adopts a
grimier mood similar to City of God.

The film version of City of Men received positive
reviews, scoring 77% on
Rotten Tomatoes
. For those who missed out on the latest from Meirelles, the
DVD version of City of Men releases on July 1st.
View Trailer Here

Tag Cloud

Lifetime Christmas movies Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt VICE free movies based on movie YouTube singing competition green book quibi Pirates TIFF Box Office anthology Fox News Cosplay BBC Music CBS renewed TV shows Netflix Christmas movies Avengers cancelled television richard e. Grant FX on Hulu TBS Apple TV+ facebook First Reviews cancelled police drama Sundance TV Crunchyroll Musicals DGA Esquire A&E dogs cops unscripted true crime Peacock universal monsters The Arrangement Spectrum Originals Marvel Television AMC 20th Century Fox biography Extras Elton John Trailer zombies historical drama Interview parents APB stand-up comedy 2018 2017 Song of Ice and Fire A24 Action Warner Bros. Red Carpet TCA 2017 toy story Masterpiece social media elevated horror ghosts Kids & Family kids Mystery Baby Yoda south america IFC Films docudrama zombie LGBTQ Calendar Polls and Games natural history game show 2016 foreign Reality Awards Tour Mary Tyler Moore Starz Disney streaming service best Opinion transformers First Look Video Games cancelled TV shows dark TNT Comics on TV zero dark thirty PaleyFest period drama Valentine's Day mockumentary USA Network Trophy Talk harry potter Crackle Paramount Network Funimation screen actors guild independent boxoffice Epix screenings ITV 2019 nature OWN Netflix 21st Century Fox psychological thriller Superheroe YA Shondaland halloween spanish language Disney Spike Logo festivals travel Pet Sematary Nat Geo cats Premiere Dates diversity miniseries Drama psycho a nightmare on elm street USA CBS All Access Marvel RT History dramedy franchise ratings Star Wars joker Mudbound BET Awards Tomatazos movies Heroines E! Freeform Infographic Emmys video vampires BBC One PBS crime Apple science fiction Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Bravo cults Columbia Pictures Animation finale cinemax 2020 WarnerMedia Lucasfilm WGN BBC America The CW book romance Ellie Kemper video on demand Discovery Channel GIFs 4/20 24 frames stoner strong female leads SundanceTV San Diego Comic-Con Tumblr Syfy Western Amazon CW Seed Adult Swim indie Black Mirror Election binge GoT Disney Channel Disney Plus Country scary movies Pride Month directors latino Film Sci-Fi GLAAD documentary canceled hist Rocketman Brie Larson Mary Poppins Returns comic Grammys X-Men Arrowverse Martial Arts films Film Festival Awards golden globes Disney+ Disney Plus Trivia witnail politics Chernobyl New York Comic Con VH1 Fantasy jamie lee curtis DirecTV Dark Horse Comics adventure comics Binge Guide Sony Pictures reviews reboot serial killer The Witch critics Writers Guild of America Mindy Kaling CMT space spy thriller teaser series MSNBC spain werewolf Sneak Peek Superheroes RT21 Turner Classic Movies IFC streaming FXX ABC Family die hard blockbuster Family children's TV TCA Winter 2020 Sundance Now concert Fall TV 45 Travel Channel Holidays Ovation breaking bad revenge hispanic Comic Book dc discovery crossover Food Network political drama NYCC ESPN PlayStation HBO Go disaster Pop American Society of Cinematographers Stephen King Spring TV The Walking Dead supernatural Amazon Prime Video Vudu Creative Arts Emmys comiccon documentaries Endgame Amazon Studios SXSW mission: impossible Cannes Classic Film theme song MTV Ghostbusters 71st Emmy Awards aliens movie versus anime game of thrones HBO Max Nominations OneApp Set visit Hallmark cancelled TV series Pixar FX TCA Winners Rom-Com Quiz Watching Series VOD National Geographic award winner Marvel Studios Showtime Rock Summer what to watch robots chucky Star Trek spider-man The Purge Winter TV DC Universe Academy Awards twilight NBC Television Academy Certified Fresh sports christmas movies Pop TV Super Bowl all-time Lionsgate Countdown Britbox crime drama Podcast TV Land medical drama SDCC Mary poppins Sundance CNN indiana jones BAFTA dragons Anna Paquin FOX tv talk YouTube Premium Black History Month cars Oscars war Holiday See It Skip It Thanksgiving ABC TCM TruTV Apple TV Plus TLC Toys Hear Us Out Comedy child's play Shudder Photos name the review sitcom doctor who Acorn TV animated criterion casting Rocky spinoff comedies Comedy Central mutant Musical sequel Horror Universal Nickelodeon Marathons HBO crime thriller sag awards thriller Lifetime asian-american 2015 History Turner Schedule talk show MCU Hallmark Christmas movies DC Comics Amazon Prime 007 Teen Reality Competition rotten movies we love E3 blaxploitation LGBT dceu composers slashers technology TV Biopics batman cooking Year in Review justice league El Rey Captain marvel cartoon Hulu news Cartoon Network Women's History Month Emmy Nominations Walt Disney Pictures BET Tarantino President canceled TV shows Paramount YouTube Red TV renewals DC streaming service romantic comedy adaptation television Tubi Christmas satire Best and Worst Character Guide