City of God
In the modern world, most people live in big cities and metropolises. In a modern city, planning is not just an essential element but it is a necessity if the city is to have the minimal living standards and provision of essential services including water, sewerage, public transport, and education. In movies that have significant scenes that depict cities, the level of planning a city underwent if any is clear. The film the City of God is a great portrait of a truly global city. It shows the consequences of poor or non-existent planning in an informal settlement that goes by the same name as the movie. This essay seeks to analyze the various aspects of city planning through the prism of the film's elements such as characters, the setting of the movie and the themes the movie explores.
A global city is a city that can generate a productive connection between people who are stranger to each other. They do not need to be from the same community or religion, have the same allegiances. The city provides a platform for such an interaction to take place by bringing people together in trade and other forms of social or economic collaboration. While in global cities commerce thrives, it is not just legitimate trade. The City of God's drug business exemplifies this. The consumers and the sellers are people of different origins. There is also a high likelihood that the drugs originate from outside the country as most of the drugs consumed in Brazil come from other foreign states. According to Mennel, the globalization leads the cities in the developing world with extremes of wealth and poverty as is apparent. This reinforces one of the major problems of global cities depicted in City of God.
Lack of Government and Public Housing, Urban Slum and Physical Environment
The next aspects are a lack of government and public housing combined with the urban slum and physical environment. From the film, the informal settlement seems to be densely populated. In the developing nations, there is a high level of rural to urban migration, as there is the perception of more opportunities in the cities than in villages. Most of those people who were migrating from the rural areas to the city are the poor having little resources for accessing the city’s neighborhoods and thus, they face an issue with housing. This results in the proliferation of informal settlements (favelas). To counter the massive migration from the rural areas to Rio de Janeiro and the resultant housing crises, the Brazilian government established the Greater Rio Metropolitan Area Authority trying to regulate the proliferation of the favelas by moving people from slums to government housing. This failed to address the reasons behind the proliferation of the favelas, and they continued to grow to an extent that neither the city administration nor the Brazilian government could handle. This indicated that the administration could no longer provide basic facilities like water and sewerage facilities along with crash of public housing scheme.
From the film, it seems clear that due to the lack of planning at the City of God favela, government housing is not present. Furthermore, other social amenities like sewage and water are either lacking or inadequate. In the favela that appears in the film, it seems apparent that decent housing which is a fundamental right for all human beings is a luxury most of the people can barely afford. This has also led to a poor physical environment with no green spaces left in the City of God favela as the buildings are cramped due to lack of planning. The result is that the city is not just crowded but has a lot of pollution from which the residents cannot escape. This is because of the lack of green spaces so common for many urban slums.
Urban Crime, Youth Gangs and Importance of Education
Rio de Janeiro, which is the film's setting, is one of the most violent cities in the world with one of the highest murder rates per 100,000 people. Zukin suggests that the interaction of people in the public space results in violent crimes. This is a consequence of the existence of urban youth gangs. This is particularly true in the favelas such as the City of God. In the film where the main character Rocket lives, criminal gangs are a gibber threat than the non-existent law enforcement. Due to socialization, a significant number of the young people in the city are encouraged to join criminals as the gags provide their only learning opportunity with the lack of formal schools. This not only breeds corruption but also produces a sense of hopelessness in the situation of the young people in the city. Consequently, such a situation forces a large number of the people in unplanned neighborhoods to attempt crimes such as robbery and drug peddling to cater for their daily needs. To do this, they join urban gangs such as the one ran by Lil Ze.
The informal settlements tend to be sealed from outside influence. As such, as criminal activists become dominant. As summarized by the character Rocket, if drug peddling were legal, the Lil Ze would be the person of the year. The rest of the population shares this apparent admiration as they do not condemn Lil Ze for killing his opponents but are either resigned or think that he is a shrewd business person. This is the situation in most of the crime-ridden unplanned neighborhoods. With the lack of education and moral and social realities having blurred value system in slums, there is a little chance of escaping from the corruption and disorderly conduct.
Social Networks and Economic Mobility
The next aspects are a social network and economic mobility having a direct relationship as one's social network usually determines their levels. With the social and financial alienation that comes about as a result of crime in informal settlements, there is an apparent lack of social and economic mobility which has several sources. Firstly, it is obvious that the favela City of God is a closed community both economically and socially. Furthermore, the government services that would ensure that the slum residents move from the economic and social depravity are usually not in place in informal settlements. However, when they exist, extraneous circumstances mean that the residents are unable to use them.
Furthermore, the crime in informal settlements restricts the interaction between the residents and the rest of the population in the city. This means that the others are unable to invest in the informal settlements as among other things, the potential investors are not sure if their contributions will be safe. This creates a cycle where to escape the abject poverty in the unplanned settlements, a person has to engage in crime like drug peddling as this seems to be the only determinant of social and economic progress. In the film, this is apparent while Rocket is the only person among the characters who manages to escape from the crime and depravity to pursue his photography talent which only happens by coincidence rather than a well-executed plan showing the enormity of escaping the poverty and crime in those settles.
To conclude, this paper has analyzed the various aspects of city planning through the prism of the film City of God’s aspects like characters, the setting of the movie, and the issues the movie explores. It seems apparent that the movie is a depiction of most of the cities especially those in the developing world. Such megapolises face several challenges affecting a big part of their population. This is usually caused by lack of proper city and municipal planning, endemic poverty that leads to the proliferation of informal settlement. The candid reflection of those problems in the City of God has helped highlight such issues.
Lesley Glover, online marketing consultant, freelance writer at https://advanced-writer.com/ , blogger and social media enthusiast who enjoys photography, tennis, and hiking.