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

LGBT TCA Winter 2020 TCA Awards Pixar PaleyFest hollywood documentary RT21 Avengers Paramount Network Columbia Pictures Martial Arts TruTV robots facebook joker CBS Animation nbcuniversal TV renewals Grammys reboot Quiz space American Society of Cinematographers true crime documentaries canceled TV shows comedies WarnerMedia APB Lionsgate reviews Cannes television Britbox Superheroe south america slashers DGA Polls and Games emmy awards parents E! Ovation Fantasy BBC America Rock war theme song dc spider-man die hard Amazon sitcom DC streaming service blockbuster BAFTA USA Network movies X-Men canceled Christmas Box Office crime thriller FXX Acorn TV TCM Vudu Pirates stand-up comedy First Look medical drama Pop President Comic Book YouTube Premium Biopics Tumblr Television Academy Star Wars SDCC classics Set visit Sundance Logo Arrowverse Thanksgiving MTV casting Nickelodeon Year in Review San Diego Comic-Con dragons Trailer children's TV jamie lee curtis TCA 2017 travel versus crossover spain indiana jones 72 Emmy Awards biography indie Certified Fresh Calendar TLC GIFs doctor who foreign Apple El Rey Trophy Talk Reality Rom-Com HBO Max Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Marathons Walt Disney Pictures free movies Emmys Spike miniseries Travel Channel video The Walking Dead Comedy Holiday Television Critics Association 4/20 Toys Netflix scary movies Mary poppins VICE Fox News Extras kids WGN independent GLAAD Watching Series TCA Cosplay YA teaser CNN LGBTQ Teen comics Awards Tour USA Black History Month child's play Horror Infographic Crackle A24 Interview Mystery police drama sequels Mary Poppins Returns Bravo NBC DirecTV Sundance Now VH1 Superheroes green book The Arrangement criterion Lucasfilm cats Kids & Family Elton John Black Mirror TIFF Turner Apple TV+ Starz Food Network Action Nominations spy thriller Reality Competition anthology book ABC PlayStation Syfy MSNBC disaster Women's History Month stop motion cinemax critics BBC One screenings Freeform 71st Emmy Awards ABC Family directors mockumentary mutant Shudder cars See It Skip It unscripted twilight breaking bad Awards elevated horror BET Discovery Channel The Purge Academy Awards Red Carpet Classic Film superhero Amazon Studios animated Cartoon Network werewolf vampires Turner Classic Movies First Reviews GoT Oscars latino Mindy Kaling Family Country game of thrones 2017 cops festivals Disney Plus Premiere Dates Pet Sematary cancelled 2020 all-time movie mission: impossible Captain marvel best Paramount obituary MCU Film Festival Disney Warner Bros. New York Comic Con Tarantino 2016 satire The CW FOX Adult Swim sports Tomatazos batman name the review zombie FX rotten movies we love dark Hallmark Christmas movies universal monsters Western harry potter SXSW franchise ghosts IFC Films Comedy Central Anna Paquin Super Bowl Comics on TV Masterpiece cancelled television nature Musicals politics CMT Hear Us Out cancelled TV series ITV IFC YouTube Red docudrama news Stephen King VOD laika Fall TV Winners zero dark thirty psycho BBC asian-american sequel Trivia chucky HBO Go Pop TV DC Comics TV Land E3 Sci-Fi dogs streaming Winter TV composers FX on Hulu dceu serial killer Video Games 21st Century Fox blaxploitation Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Music TNT Valentine's Day based on movie a nightmare on elm street natural history Marvel Studios Character Guide Netflix Christmas movies Hallmark Tubi 24 frames Baby Yoda game show Ghostbusters golden globes CW Seed 2015 cults psychological thriller stoner historical drama renewed TV shows Creative Arts Emmys Binge Guide anime tv talk CBS All Access Spring TV singing competition Sony Pictures cancelled TV shows Film Universal Sneak Peek Amazon Prime Video Opinion Song of Ice and Fire Lifetime Lifetime Christmas movies spinoff Heroines Holidays concert Podcast halloween revenge PBS award winner witnail Mary Tyler Moore adaptation worst hispanic period drama Summer zombies 20th Century Fox discovery transformers TBS Apple TV Plus Pride Month science fiction Brie Larson Ellie Kemper TV Star Trek sag awards Chernobyl cartoon christmas movies Rocky The Witch justice league binge ratings Schedule strong female leads Funimation Esquire screen actors guild adventure political drama technology spanish language 45 dramedy Disney Channel Marvel 2018 History series comic Showtime talk show 007 Drama what to watch BET Awards Hulu crime drama Peacock 2019 Sundance TV Dark Horse Comics Spectrum Originals richard e. Grant Disney streaming service Nat Geo Shondaland OWN Photos fast and furious hist OneApp A&E diversity thriller Musical Marvel Television Disney+ Disney Plus AMC rotten Mudbound Best and Worst Countdown ESPN cooking YouTube Epix SundanceTV romance aliens Writers Guild of America video on demand crime Emmy Nominations quibi Amazon Prime Election toy story National Geographic NYCC boxoffice films HBO social media romantic comedy finale comiccon Endgame RT History Rocketman Crunchyroll supernatural DC Universe