City of God
The City of God and the Theories of Criminology
The movie City of God is based on true events that occurred during the 1960’s and 1970’s in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The film tells a story of organized crime being operated by youth and children in the Favelas. Favelas is an urban slum where there is extreme poverty, a high density of population, corrupt policemen and ruthless acts of delinquency. The movie starts off by one of the important scenes, “The Tender Trio” gang decided to rob the local brothel. Before they left to rob the hotel, they added a new member to their trio, a child named Li’l Dice but later to be known as Li’l Ze. The group entered the brothel armed with handguns, but left Li’l Ze behind to keep an eye for the police which made them frustrated. The trio stormed into the place, rubbing and threatening the visitors but shortly after they were surrounded by the police. They were able to escape but when they went outside to pick up Li’l Ze they discovered he wasn’t were they left him. Li’l Ze entered the brothel with a pistol on his hand and a stupefying look on his eyes and loudly laughing shortly after the trio and the police were gone. Li’l Ze, about 9 – 10-year-old, started to shoot the people in the place in cold blood and at a short range. While he was killing them one by one, he was also robbing the money from the people and the place.
Li’l Ze was tempted for power from a very young age. He grew up without love or a positive role model and he was also a poor child from the City of God. The City of God is filled with remorseless, inhuman and barbaric delinquency and the city is basically in chaos. Due to this, “The Tender Trio” took Li’l Ze under their wing. He was surrounded with drug dealing and guns. Consequently, it led to the rise and fall of a sociopath gang leader Li’l Ze. Li’l Ze became the king of the drug lords during the 70’s but not before he killed the king before him, Goose. Goose was one of the “Tender Trio”. His victory did not last long though, he was killed by the very kids who he used to control by intimidation. They kids were known as the “rants”. When Li’l Ze had to deal with his enemies, he had no mercy or remorse. He lacked any normal social relationship. He had to grow up very quickly due to his actions. After he lost his best friend, Benny, on a shootout at a club the war began between him and another gang who was trying to take over. The City of God became a war zone which created more chaos than there was already.
The incident of a child massacring the people at the brothel is applicable to come of the criminological theory. Li’l Ze’s behavior relates to the social disorganization and social theory as an explanation on why he has adapted criminality as his main behavioral trait.
The social disorganization theory is defined as the decline of influenced of existing social rules of behavior upon individuals within group. It basically means a community not being able to realize common values which result in the breakdown of effective social control within that community. The point of the social disorganization theory is that it claims it is normal response of normal individuals to abnormal social conditions. In the City of God, the only thing the people have in common and main goal is to find a way out of the city.
Throughout the whole movie, the residence of the city never worked together to restore justice and peace in the community. It clearly showed that the city was run by the most powerful drug lord who’s only interested was more power and wealth for himself not the community. To add more to the situation, the authority is not trying to restore the law back into the city because they use the wealth and power of the drug lord for their own personal gain. The people were basically forced to adapted to their environment in order to survive in the City of God.
The second theory that I notice was the Strain theory. The strain theory refers to the notion that some people react to the various stressors they experience in life via unhealthy coping, mechanism, such as turning crime.
The two things that pressures for deviation is a combination of the cultural emphasis and the social structure. The class that is more vulnerable to this strain and on maintaining their economic aspiration is spite of frustration in the lower class. The City of God is a place where there is poverty and ruin. This makes it easier to see the connection to the strain theory.
A good example for the strain theory would be Rocket’s brother. With everything happening around him, he basically gave up on trying to better himself the right way and turned to deviance.
The theories of Criminology were able to explain the criminal behavior in the movie, City of God. The residents of the City of God are forced to adapt to this type of environment in order to be able to survive. By watching the movie, I could see that people really didn’t want to be involved in any criminal behavior but like I said, they had to in order to survive. It is the loss that being in a situation of not being able to do anything to better themselves that leaves a gap in so many of their lives that desperately needs to be filled. Taking into consideration that a person’s strain can also play a big part in turning the city into a nightmare.
The City of God and the Life of People in Rio de Janeiro
In this paper I will talk about how the characters in city of god lived. Also how the movie criticizes brazil’s democracy. The image City of God’ has a few examples of sociology speculations of wrongdoing and abnormality. The film is described by one among 2 focal characters, Rocket, and recounts the narrative of the lives of himself and Lil Ze, kids grew up inside the Ciudad Rio de Janeiro in comparable conditions anyway chose separate pathways throughout everyday life.
The suggestion expresses that intense stir winds up in remunerations, and once these prizes don’t appear to be satisfactory, abnormality emerges. Rocket was then released because of his supervisor trusted he was a piece of the ‘hood’. Rocket didn’t get the severance pay that he expected and was not able purchase the camera he required. progressively Rocket started showing demonstrations of abnormality. He took his more business in order to understand his goals. Later once Rocket swung to freak conduct, Rocket as partner conceiver, on account of the work of grimy implies that for his prosperity.
It’s the qualification and separation between those who are well off and furthermore the less wealthy. The total reason Lil Ze’ had a contention with Knockout Ned was a result of relative depravation. Lil Ze’ saw himself as revolting and was seen turned somewhere near young ladies inside the image. Lil Ze’ compellingly got what he required by taking medications, Knockout Ned’s family and assaulting his better half.
In the film the character Rocket symbolizes trust, as he longs for changing into an innovative individual, and this can be utilized as a vehicle inside the film to depict imaging of the favela to each the media in Rio de Janeiro inside the story, and to the watcher. Lil Ze could be a child with the ‘preference for wrongdoing’ that grows up to be the favela’s most dominant and not well renowned law breaker. The lives of the 2 are tangled and unexpectedly Rocket’s fantasies of changing into an innovative individual are acknowledged through his entrance to life inside the favela and his delineation of the violations executed by Lil Ze and his group.
This film was basic in bringing issues to light of each the presence of still on the grounds that the issues inside the favelas in Rio de Janeiro, related was one among the essential social portrayals to rise up out of Brazil to demonstrate the darker aspect of the town and a substitute reality to what’s unremarkably apparent in regards to city, that is postal card pictures of shorelines, dusks and samba. By means of this social vehicle.
This scene comes full circle in apparently the premier extraordinary and astonishing scene inside the film, wherever a child wants to be started into Lil Ze’s pack is compelled to decide between that 2 kids from the ‘Runts’ he needs to shoot and murder. we tend to are looked alongside his hesitation just as his separation from issues he’s put in. one among the youths whose life is being resolved begins crying uncontrollably, and with a nearby shot of his face we tend to are on the double attracted to his outrageous stress of issues he’s in, still as his age, that couldn’t be more than five years past. the child character pulls the trigger. ‘Steak and Frites’, is later spoken to inside the place of the opponent posse being addressed on why he should be worried inside the group fighting, and says: ‘I smoke, I grunt. I have slaughtered and burglarized. I’m a man’.
At the end of the film once the Runts have dead Ze and are talking about anyway they’ll assume control over his business and turn into the pioneers of the favela, their absence of instruction is featured once one among the group requests the necessities of making effective rundown of these they will kill ‘who here knows about an approach to compose?’ and one among them reacts ‘a bit’. Either these children have had no entrance to training, or extra required with their survival inside the favela consider tutoring to be partner inessential a piece of life.
At the point when Benny is executed by a devotee and along these lines kept from endeavor the favela we tend to are defied with the sole snapshot of distress inside the film; this can be the sole minute wherever Ze indicates feeling, wherever the camera shots wait at the scene of the passing, and wherever the watcher is in a very sense educated to feel despondency for his misfortune. His demise is furthermore superseding in depicting the issue of making an endeavor to be a legit character inside or making an endeavor to leave the lifetime of the favela.
The last key this movie shows the corruption that is happening in the city. The police are bought off and they are there to help the drug dealers and they themselves sell illegal guns. In the movie it started off by saying that all the poor people would be in that city. This shows how the country does not do anything to help this people come out of poverty, instead there shows how the people are killed by the police or die there because there is no way for them to get out. The kids are not enforced to attend school instead a lot of them seek out other methods to make money and be able to live. The democracy in this movie is being shown as a shamble because there of the amount of corruption that is being presented.
Brazil’s Political and Social Structure in the Film City of God
City of God is the one of the most important film which tells us about Brazil’s political and social structure of the 1960-1990s period. First of all, I would like to begin by explaining the historical development of the political structure of Latin America and Brazil. In Latin America between 1920-1960, nearly 80 military revolts that toppled governments occurred. Also, Latin America manage to break the coup cycle/trap (121 coup between 1950 and 1982). After the 1960s, coups resulted in more violence and longer military rule since the military elites began a policy of purging the society from subversive elements and restore order. When the governments were weaker, the more likely military was to get involved. Military regimes after 1960s took on the characteristics of Bureaucratic-authoritarianism or neo-conservatism. In Brazil, between 1964-1984 Bureaucratic-authoritarianism were seen. Expanding bureaucratization: vital government positions involved by technocratic and military elites (with help from landowning strata, urban middle class, and financial elites). João Goulart’s government’s purpose was deep-rooted modernization and infrastructure projects. Intellectuals, various ideological currents opposed this situation. However, they did not get an effective result. In 1964, military force seized power in Brazil. In Brazil, the military dictatorship lasted 25 years, from 1964 to 1989, included six different presidential administrations (one of them headed by a civilian), and its history may be divided into five major stages.
In the 10-year changes in the film, we see the reflections of government changes on favela. After inflation was reduced by military government, Brazilian economic miracle was occurred. (normal yearly development of 10-11 % in 1968-1974) Brazil entered a ‘stagflation’ phase concurrent with political liberalization. During the military period, Brazilian society had become 70 percent urban; the economy had become industrialized, and more manufactured goods than primary goods were exported; and about 55 percent of the population had registered to vote. Middle class was delighted with full employment. But Urban guerilla warfare existed in 1960s in opposition to the military. Guerilla movement could not topple the military that was supported by the urban people and upper classes because insurgency was not widespread. Military regime prepared in 1974 to gradually return power to civilians which was indirect elections introduced. Military decided to step down in 1984 after popular protests and worsening economy but didn’t allow for direct elections.
The film City of God takes place in such a political environment that I mentioned above. When the state completely loses its legitimacy, society establishes its own justice system. First of all, the film realistically reflects the ‘favela’ life in Cidade de Deus in Rio, Brazil between 1960-1990. We learn from film the story of the formation of a suburb of a colorful city like Rio, and the groupings there. The film moves a little from the past and a bit from the future with sequences from the future, and it continues in the present.
Rio De Janeiro; Until I watched the film, it was a hassle-free living city that took my share of the vast beaches and the generosity of the sun. In the film, however, the city of God is a dark city dominated by drugs and weapons. For example, in the film, we see the political and economic instability and security forces’ degeneration. I would like to say that police corruption in Rio, which is clearly depicted in the film as integral to the survival of drug rings and proliferation of access to weapons. At the climax of the film when the two rival druglords Lil Ze and ‘Carrot’ are captured by police, we witness two important events: Carrot is kept in custody by the police who say he will be a ‘present for the media’, whereas Ze is let go and through Rocket’s camera lens we see that police have been providing him with weapons and drugs in return for money.
Now, let’s define the favelas that are subject to the film. The first favela, now known as Providência in the center of Rio de Janeiro, appeared in the late 19th century, built by soldiers who had nowhere to live following the Canudos War. ( “Favela”. Vikipedi. Web. 19.03.2019 ) Let’s look at the historical development of the favelas that the film takes on the subject. After the Canudos War in Bahia, Brazilian soldiers marched to Rio de Janeiro to receive their deserved payment. They waited in the hillsides for the government to hand over the money. Yet they never got paid, and so they never left. They soon settled into makeshift accommodation in a neighborhood that came to be known as Morro da Favela, named after the favela trees in Bahia that the soldiers had previously lived among. It was from this moment, the culture of Rio’s favela was born. ( “A Brief History of Rio De Janeiro’s Favelas”. Culture Trip. Web. 19.03.2019 ) A society was isolated with the Favelas. The enormous gap between the rich and the poor grew. The resentment grew when in the 1940s, the housing crisis in Rio hit a peak as a wave of mass migration swamped the city, the result of a countrywide economic crisis. With a severe lack of housing and government support, people depended on their own resources and started constructing more favelas. The difficulties of the life of the Favela and the emergence of a crime center and the birth of drug and weapon barons were very impressive in the film.
The Favelas became the center of drug trafficking, arms smuggling, and gang wars in the 1980s. As a result, violence and crime increased and favelas were ruled by illegal gangs. Rich drug barons and gang leaders were born. The Favelas began to be governed by these illegal organizations. The rate of violence and crime gradually increased. In 2008, the Brazilian Government set up UPP (Police Pacification Units) to ensure peace and security in the favelas region. The UPP was implemented as a program to take back the long-neglected favela region of the state. As a result, there were intense clashes in the favelas. But the favelas were made safer.
Thanks to the film, I had the opportunity to study the political and social structure of a period in Latin America and especially in Brazil. I understood the importance of state authority and the fight against crime / criminals for peace and security. It is seen that especially the homeless and poor people being forced to live in favela-style settlements, that is, isolation from society can never be a solution. It is clear that countries which are strong economic structure and a stable political structure are most likely free from military interventions. Military coups have occurred very often in Brazil and many other Latin American countries due to lack of political stability. In the last scenes of the film, even though it has been shown that the gangs have been transferred to the next generation, I wish that the peace and friendship will prevail in our country and all other countries.
- Ribeiro, Andrea Barata, et al. City of God. Miramax Films, 2003.
- Favela. Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 8 Apr. 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Favela.
- Brown, Sarah. A Brief History of Rio De Janeiro’s Favelas. Culture Trip, 8 Feb. 2017, theculturetrip.com/south-america/brazil/articles/a-brief-history-of-rio-de-janeiros-favelas/.
- Napolitano, Marcos. Brazilian Military Regime, 1964–1985 – Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Latin American History. Brazilian Military Regime, 1964–1985 – Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Latin American History, 18 Apr. 2018.
Saint Augustine Of Hippo’s Book The City Of God: How Man’s Fall Resulted in Death
Augustine’s The City of God addresses, in Books thirteen and fourteen, the origins of sin and the purpose and nature of death, examining the fall of man and it’s relation to the mortal condition and death and vice as a punishment. Augustine’s work has continued to serve as a key religious test since it was written during the fall of the Roman Empire in fourth century A.D..
Book fourteen, in chapters ten through sixteen deal with the nature of original sin The original human beings, Adam and Eve, are portrayed by Augustine to have had a wonderful life, unhindered by the burdens of disease, mortality and sin (Augustine 567). The priest stresses the responsibility of Adam and Eve in their sin, citing their pride as the reason for their inability to admit their wrongdoing (Augustine 574). This pride and self-indulgence was punished by being “…handed over to himself”, meaning that the human flesh was then commanded to oppose the human soul, leading to many future human evils (Augustine 575). Book fourteen is an in-depth explanation of why death, suffering and sin were imposed on man which is was previously explored by Augustine in Book thirteen.
Book thirteen of The City of God quickly establishes death as a punishment for the disobedience towards God of Adam and Eve, noting that “The condition of human beings was such that if they continued in perfect obedience they would be granted the immortality of the angels” (Augustine 510). It is very important for Augustine to then explain what he means by death, which–as it is fundamentally an evil as it separates the body from the soul in all cases (Augustine 511, Augustine 515). Augustine is quick to make the distinction between the death of the body and the death of the soul (Augustine 510-511). The first, and most severe a form of death, is that of the soul which occurs only when God–the source of life for the soul–abandons it in return for being abandoned (Augustine 510-511). This form of death is sometimes referred to by Augustine as “the second death” when both the body and soul are devoid of life (Augustine 510-511, Augustine 523-524). The death of the soul is undoubtedly more punishing than the death of the body, this being–according to Augustine, the first form of death inflicted upon the first man, Adam (523-524). The idea of the destroyed or mutually abandoned soul is portrayed as a greater punishment than even the torments of Hell, an idea addressed by Augustine in Chapters five and six of book thirteen of his work.
Chapter five of the thirteenth book of The City of God deals with the law and death as agents of good or evil, framing the law as inherently good and death as inherently evil (Augustine 514-515). Augustine’s view on the law is much simpler than his view on virtuous death, claiming that the law is good because it allows death to be handed to those that deserve it–though it may tempt some, by forbidding a thing, to commit a crime (Augustine 514-515). The reasoning used by Augustine to justify the law is that “…sin was made to show its true character…”, sin is temptation and was punished, by God, with death (Augustine 514-515). While Augustine paints death as an evil, he also paints it as a tool to avoid sinning–as used by a number of saints (Augustine 514-515). In Chapter four Augustine notes that death for a saint “…has become the means by which men pass into life”, a point again made in chapter five when “…righteousness puts all things, evil as well as good, to good employment” (Augustine 514-515) The death of the virtuous saint avoids the death of the soul and only involves the death of the body, passing from the human life to the life of the immortal soul (Augustine 514-515, Augustine 510). Augustine’s positions reinforce the idea that the good shall be rewarded while the wicked shall be abandoned by the Creator.
When read together, books thirteen and fourteen paint a bigger picture of the role of death in Christianity. Augustine, in book fourteen, seems to throw the theological book of offenses at Adam and Eve, the first sinners (Augustine 566-577). Augustine also takes the time to suggest that Adam incurred the greatest punishment, the abandonment of his soul by both himself and God (Augustine 523-524). Despite the universal punishment of death, The City of God still offers some reward–or at least a lesser punishment–to the saints or to the faithful, those who have repented for the original sin and sin that occurred in their lifetime (Augustine 514-515). For the repentant, there is the death of only the body which allows them to “…pass into life” as an immortal soul, like the immortality promised to Adam and Eve (Augustine 514, Augustine 510).
It is for these reasons that the text endures. Augustine both explains the fallibility of man as well as the willingness of God to take Mankind under His roof once again, inspite of the prideful self-indulgence of the first human beings, actions that–even in the material world–lead to corruption and failure.
Reviewing Fernando Meirelles And Katia Lund’s Movie, City Of God
“City of God”, directed by Fernando Meirelles and Katia Lund, soundtrack by Luiz Melodia, takes place in the 1970s in the lawless favelas of Rio de Janeiro following the story of an aspiring photographer, Rocket, and the power-hungry drug dealer, Lil’Ze. Rocket, wanting to make a break in his career to leave the slums of Brazil, deals with this crime and brutality all his life, however, this is the way that he’s able to launch his photographs. He uses photos of Lil’Ze and his gang to finally get the attention he needs while Lil’Ze is able to become the intimidator he desires. Lil’Ze’s rivals, Carrot and Knockout Ned cooperate towards putting stress on Lil’Ze’s prosperity. The film was able to stay genuine through shooting on location in Rio de Janeiro’s poorest neighborhoods and hiring locals by teaching them basic acting skills. Through Foley, sound effects, ambient sounds, narration, and non-diegetic music, the viewer is given a sense of urgency and adrenalin from the events of Knockout Ned’s story.
The scene starts at 1:31:44 with a sound effect of a thud that introduces the text “THE STORY OF KNOCKOUT NED” . The camera transitions from an extreme close-up shot of Knockout Ned’s profile to shooting at an extreme close-up with a dutch angle of the road speeding by. The rhythm of the pavement as a car drives on it at a high speed transitions with a fade in, sound amplified. Although the exaggeration of the sound does not exist in the world of the characters, the viewer starts out with a sense of urgency, contrasting the mellow scene beforehand with Carrot and the hoodlums. The shot of the fast-moving pavement shows the source of the sounds , giving a literal sense of stress and speed: there is a destination and the “hoodlums” are anxious to get there. In previous scenes where action and intensity of the situation need to be captured, the sound of gravel, synchronously and asynchronously, would be emphasized and embellished in order to feed into the stress of the moment without having to interrupt a shot or abruptly stop a conversation taking place. Likewise, in this scene the repetitive rhythm of the gravel during the quick shot of the pavement addresses the hasty behavior of the characters Carrot and Knockout Ned within the transition of scenes.
1:31:50, the off-screen, a voice yells through the bank “This is a hold up!”, image blurred and dialog asynchronous. The audience then sees Knockout Ned. At 1:31:53, the ambient music starts, layered on top of the screaming of the civilians. Urgency is introduced.
The layering of music and action is constant throughout the film, although the music would commonly mirror the dialog and movement in order to emphasize. This is the first time in the film that contrast of auditory and visual elements to underscore themes is represented. Music can directly express its participation in the feeling of the scene, by taking on the scene’s rhythm, tone and phrasing. Music can then participate in cultural and emotional codes for things like sadness, happiness and movement. On the other hand, music can also exhibit prominent differences in the situation, by progressing in a steady auditory backdrop of indifference and alienation from the violence. This juxtaposition of image and music does not have the effect of negating the fear of the civilians, but rather intensifies it by the juxtaposition to background. The screaming, yelling, and glass smashing underneath the force of a gun in the hands of Carrot’s hoodlums gives the immediate sense of violence. The camera pulsing through the scene gives an illusion of the viewer being in set, synced with the rhythm of the sound and the progression of the steps of the hoodlums. The camera is assumed as a body in the space although the music is non-diegetic. This type of urgency and stress is through the ambient music mentioned where the rhythm is pulsing with the movements of the gang members, creating violence even when the actual music is a pleasant upbeat sound which alienates the audience from the phycology of the characters. Something that could be danced to outside of this specific realm is now perversed into a melody of stress.
At 1:31:58, glass starts to shatter, isolated from the music from its sharpness. The bursts of spinning close-ups of the yellowing light fixtures and the counter tops and certain gang member’s faces as they yell orders to the civilians feed into this emotion of urgency during their raid. The shattered glass is diegetic and is expected to be heard, but attention is still brought to the sound from how the camera refuses to address the source or interact with the action. The refusal of showing specific important shots is important to the idea before of the “camera as a body” in the realm of the film. The viewer cannot see what the characters do not specifically address and what the characters do not see as significant even though we know it to be important to the progression of the plot. The stress of the situation is reinforced through this because of the sensations that the viewer is not allowed to address.
At 1:32:04, the narration of Rocket’s voice is non-diegetic, asynchronous, and emotionally untouchable. The narration throughout the film usually gives a sense of a relief from the auditory stress that comes from the realm of the film. The volume and variety of noise coming from the scene is temporarily cut when Rocket’s narration of the events comes in. Rocket simply states the facts of Knockout Ned’s life. The tone is unwavering, even as words move between Carrot yelling about guns over shattering glass. At 1:32:32, the first gunshot comes from a clerk crouched on the ground. The composition and volume of the music is then altered. After each gun shot, the music pauses, almost as a breath, and then continues once there is dialog again. At 1:32:33, Carrot’s gun is shot, the music is briefly stopped and the audience hears the narrator come in again along with the music. Rocket unemotionally states, “…Carrot saves Knockout Ned’s life”. In the second bank, the music changes but stays in the same tempo and nature. The overlay of the camera motions in this scene create a multi-second composition that plays into the urgency.
The motions of the camera following each gang member for a few seconds, just to get a high-speed glimpse of everything that is happening in these raids creates the same kind of stress of trying to keep up with it all. In the second bank, starting at 1:33:02, the camera is tracking between the gang members instead of the quick shots until Knockout Ned shoots the cop rushing in, where the focus shifts only to Carrot and Ned’s relationship, tracking the camera back and forth between them. When the dead cop falls to the ground, the amplified thud occurs while the camera is on Knockout Ned’s back, making the relationship prevalent. Rocket, still as the voice-over, continues with his detached narration, “The third time [killing], the exception becomes the rule”. The lyrics from the ambient music come in right when Rocket is done speaking and camera is on Carrot’s expression of Knockout Ned shooting the gun. The lyrics are relaxed and the melody is more easy and swayed, indicating the end of Knockout Ned’s internal conflict and stress with the gun. He has chosen to utilize it.
At 1:36:40, the audience hears the clicking and fidgeting of guns being inspected and displayed off-screen. The camera stays on Carrot, surrounded by his hoodlums. There is an internal dialog that the narrator does not illustrate, but is emphasized when the sounds of the events happening in the world of the characters does not match what is on-screen. 1:37:04, Knockout Ned indicates the gun he is looking for, camera swaying from Carrot to Knockout Ned. This is a version of Knockout Ned that hasn’t been shown before. He is comfortable in his decisions around crime and violence. Face confident, amplified sound of the clicking of the guns being maneuvered between the salesman and the hoodlums, the audience can imply the new found confidence in Knockout Ned’s hood actions. He holds the gun in his arms at 1:37:07 and the camera moves along the length of the barrel with a winded sound effect, air whipping from where Knockout Ned’s hand meets the trigger until the end of the barrel, until it meets at an extreme close-up shot of Knockout Ned’s face. The hoodlums are excitedly talking and laughing off-screen about the enthusiasm of their new equipment. The ambient music played during the second bank robbery plays to establish the progress of Knockout Ned’s identity as a hoodlum. The camera stays in the extreme-close up shot of Knockout Ned, displaying his thoughts, this time without Rocket’s narration.
Reviewing Augustine Hippo’s Book City Of God
The City of God (5th century A.D.) composed by St. Augustine, one of the founding fathers of the Church of Rome, highlights the world issues within the context of the individual, family and city-state. For him, the key to unite the world is not by might or warfare, but by breaking down linguistic and social barriers, thereby facilitating communication, understanding, peace and unity. Attaining this end of a unifying language has been purchased by bloodshed. He refers to Rome as the imperial city who imposes this language on its citizens and those subjugated under her yoke. The diversity of languages has only engendered conflict and separation within the human race. Augustine bemoans the woeful effects of war, not just in the physical domain but in the mental and spiritual which give birth to insensitivity of feeling and hardness of heart. Types of war which arise are political, social and civil in nature; however, just wars are justified – waged for righteous ends and blessed by the Church.
The Art of War (5th century B.C.) composed by Sun Tzu, a notable Chinese general, stresses the importance of war to the state and gives pithy advice on martial techniques on how to manoeuvre one’s army to secure victory. Moral influence is a very integral factor in warfare as a battle can never be won without the respect and cooperation of citizens impelled by love of king, government and country. A leader strikes the right balance between love and discipline, reward and punishment. The prime tool to emerge victor in a war is that of deception and to do the opposite of what the enemy expects or supposes. Self-knowledge and knowledge about one’s combatant are indispensable in going against the odds. The water metaphor characterizes the army because an effective and efficient army practices subtlety (hidden strength), flexibility, adaptation to adverse circumstances, inconstancy, …). The politics of warfare. It is imperative that in warfare there be no prevailing beliefs in omen, superstitions, nor portents as they would demoralize the army, cause despair and hasten loss. The objective of the army is to fight to the death no matter what the signs of nature, or the supernatural.
The Greatness of War (1900) authored by Heinrich von Treitschke explores the discourse of militarism and its role specifically in Germany. War unites a people as the citizens celebrate an ideal that is higher and beyond the individual and the self that is the welfare of the State and the glorification of a Nation seeing to its survival and prestige. In the absence of war, mental stagnation and exhaustion result but on the other hand, war quickens and enlivens the body and mental faculties. The prevalent political opinion tending to militarism lay the foundation of the World Wars which led to increased military budgets in an age where war was seen as a solution for certain crises. War is idealized in the eyes of the elite and the masses. Tritshchke plants divine justification of war where God sanctions war which serves for the best of humanity. War is a means of peace and progress. War begets the ideal of heroism where men distinguish themselves as icons, models of national pride. The joys, fond memories and euphoric feelings that war produces surpass the devastation and loss of life.
Friedrich von Bernhardi’s ‘Germany and the Next War’ (1912) advocates war and militarism where it was viewed as “a biological necessity of the first importance.” Survival of the fitness and the law of the strong ruling the weak are taken as mottos in Germany. War is indispensable because it is a process through which civilization is born and develops: the absorption of weaker nations into a larger nation which goes on to the status of empire. Yet war is inevitable because through another law: the law of self-preservation, weaker nations oppose overthrow, defeat and foreign rule, there begins a struggle and a fight for either conquest or preservation – similar that of a predator and a prey. The right of possession goes only to the victor of the strife and lies in sheer force. In the same vein, the German’s appropriate to themselves the law of the right of conquest to conquer other nations and take over territories. Civilisation gets promoted through conquest as power added/ annexed to an even higher power allegorically, the pyramid of power. The absence of war to the German is inconceivable as in peace there can be no expansion of territory no absorption of power and no growth of a state, to a nation to an Empire.
The Motive of Peace in “The City of God”
In his book, “The City of God,” Saint Augustine of Hippo writes to defend Christianity against pagan claims of abandonment from God. When the city of Rome fell in 410, many citizens argued that it was Christianity’s fault, but Augustine says that the blood was on the hands of those who oppose God by searching for peace in earthly things. He also puts the city of Rome in a comparison with the heavenly City to show the differences of true happiness through peace between the two cities.
Augustine begins his writing by expressing his response to the people’s claim of God being at fault. Augustine says that the pagan believers “were more attached to the seductions of foul spirits” which is the reason that they “take no blame for the evil they do, but blame Christianity for the evil they suffer” (208). This quote explains the reason the city becomes corrupt. Because of the citizens sinful ways, the joy of the city is crushed by the enemy. The absence of joy emphasizes the search for joy which- when not focused on God- causes that search to be in earthly things. This also explains Augustine’s response to the pagans when he tells them that they “still wallow in sin even in the depths of sorrows” (208). The sin becomes stuck in a cycle when the unjust search for happiness causes more sin which causes more searching and so on. Augustine says that in God, that search is unnecessary.
As Augustine continues, he describes the only way that one can find the sufficient source of happiness: peace with God. He begins by explaining that, even when Rome was under the praise of the pagan gods, the one true God was always in control. The old pagan heroes of Rome were moral, and Augustine says that the “splendid of the Empire” was a small reward of “temporal glory” for the “praiseworthy efforts of virtue by which they strove to attain” (212). This reward was from God, but because they praised others, the glory was only short-term. The pagans received their reward and basked in it, so they now “have no right to complain of the justice of the true and supreme God,” Augustine says (212). On the other hand, “the reward of the saints is altogether different” (212). While on earth, they suffered hatred and afflictions by standing for God and loving him supremely. This love and admiration was rewarded with citizenship in the City of God, something much more lasting than the pagan’s reward. Resisting the search for happiness in earthly substances pays off for the righteous. Augustine says that in God’s City, “there reigns that true and perfect happiness” and it can only be explained as a “gift of God” (212). This becomes the basis of Augustine’s comparisons between earth and Heaven.
One of Augustine’s main objectives in “The City of God” is to not only display the differences between Rome and the heavenly City but also to show how Rome should have mimicked the heavenly City. Augustine first describes how the earthly citizens use perishable means to ease the pain of the “supreme evil” (214). There is no reason to ease the pain when one can eradicate it altogether. The earthly city seeks a limited amount of happiness and digs deeper and deeper in the wrong direction for the true treasured goal. The heavenly citizens morally use the happiness of earth as a stepping stone to the promised peace of God. Earth’s city “has flowered from a selfish love” and from a “lust for domination” while God’s City is “rooted in the love of God” and in “service to one another in charity” (209). Shaping the earthly city of Rome after the holy City of God makes sense to Augustine. He says that “the only real peace is for those who find their joy in God” and reaching this peace leaves man “perpetually endowed with life” (216). It is pointless to continue to tire one’s self by chasing after the very thing that God is offering him or her. In God’s City, peace is fully sufficient. All things chase after this peace so it makes sense to Augustine to strive to be like the holy City. The only way this can be done is “by religious faith where citizens adore one God alone and serve him with complete dedication,” Augustine says (215). The earthly city must let go of its boasting acts and “refer every good act done” to God (216).
“The City of God” is a platform for Augustine that he uses to stand for, defend, and proclaim God. Throughout his work, Augustine shows that peace apart from God has many shortcomings. The only way to obtain true peace is to be in God’s presence. The fall of Rome is just the ending consequences of the temporal glory given to the moral heroes of the earthly empire of Rome. The only indestructible, eternal reign is that of God in his heavenly City. This City holds the “supreme good of eternal life” and fulfilling peace which, according to Augustine, can only be found in God (214).
Works Cited ·
Saint Augustine “from The City of God.” Rosemary Mims Fisk, John Mayfield, and W.J. Wallace (eds), Samford University Core Texts Reader, Vol. 1, ISBN: 9781581529999
Augustine’s Cities: Living According to God vs. Living According to Man
In The City of God, Augustine goes to great lengths to explain the distinction between living according to God and living according to man using an analogy of two cities. With this distinction, he shows that living according to God is superior because it offers the promise of salvation and true happiness after death, something that cannot be attained according to Augustine if one decides to turn away from God and live according to man. He makes this argument by defining the three parts of the human being and explaining their role in a person’s decision to serve God or the self. He also uses his interpretation of original sin as evidence for the repercussions of turning away from God.
Augustine begins by defining the composition of a human being. According to Augustine, every man is made up of two parts, the flesh and the spirit. The flesh consists of both the soul and the physical body, while the spirit is the rational part of the human being that has the free will to serve either the flesh or God. Augustine does not believe that the soul is inherently better than the body, stating that “it is not only because of the flesh that the soul is moved by desires and fears, by joy and sorrow, but that it can also be agitated by these same emotions welling up within the soul itself” (303). This means that the soul is affected by emotions and is corruptible in the same way that the body can be controlled by its appetites and desires. Because the soul is just as fallible and imperfect as the body, Augustine does not believe it to be superior. All three parts – the soul, body, and spirit – comprise a human being, and no part alone can make up a man in the absence of the others.
With the two parts of the human being established, namely the flesh and the spirit, Augustine creates an analogy of two cities, each representing one way a man can live. The first is to live in the City of Man, which is to live “according to the flesh” (295). This way of life results when man lives for the sake of himself, rather than God. He has turned away from God, thinking it is better for him to concern himself only with the needs and desires of the flesh, resulting in failure to serve God. Augustine views this as an arrogant, self-centered way to live, because he believes it happens when a man thinks he can live a more fulfilling and pleasurable life without God. He condemns the decision to live in this manner, saying “there is a wickedness by which a man who is self-satisfied as if he were the light turns himself away from that true Light which, had man loved it, would have made him a sharer in the light” (311). This suggests that Augustine equates living according to man with completely turning away from God due, to the belief that the human being is complete without Him. He criticizes the man who chooses this way of life as being blind to God’s salvation and wisdom, which he may have participated in had he accepted God into his life.
The City of God, in contrast with the City of Man, is a state in which man lives according to God. This way of life arises when man embraces and serves God, even to the negation of self. By that, Augustine means that man chooses the subjection of the body and worldly desires in order to orient himself toward God. This is done in the hopes that denying oneself in this life will lead to everlasting peace in the next life. In this metaphorical city, the spirit looks above the flesh to exist for the purpose of serving God and controls the pleasures of the flesh in order to honor Him.
The two cities represent two different loves, one that loves the self and one that loves God. The City of Man is a “selfish love” (321) in which man rejects the necessity of God for attaining true happiness and salvation and instead believes that happiness is achievable through human wisdom alone. Conversely, the City of God recognizes that God is the highest form of truth and knowledge; it is only through Him that humankind has any hope of eternal peace and sanctity.
Although Augustine recognizes that man has been given the ability to choose whether or not the spirit should serve God, it is clear that he thinks that human beings can only live righteously by living according to God. He reasons that only through a life of service to Him may one attain access to His kingdom and eternal beatitude after death. Even the most virtuous and “wise men in the city of man live according to man” (322), meaning that although they may live respectable lives they will still be condemned to damnation after death since they will fail to receive salvation from God.
Not only will living in service of God allow for peace after death, but it also eases the minds of His followers while alive because it gives them hope in a greater existence after death. Augustine claims that human beings, “now compelled to feel the misery of so many grievous ills on earth, can, by the hope of heaven, be made both happy and secure” (442). This means that although life can be unpleasant, even miserable at times, there is always hope for serenity in heaven if one lives in service of God. Those who choose to believe that the greatest happiness is found during a worldly existence and selfishly indulge in bodily pleasures are excluded from both the peace of mind that comes with the hope of an eternal existence and subsequently “will not attain the kingdom of God” (297) after death.
Denying God’s ultimate power in favor of living according to man is exactly what happened in the case of Adam and Eve, which Augustine deems the original sin. Eve turned away from God’s might when she decided to eat the forbidden fruit, and Augustine believes that this act was committed because Eve thought she knew better than God. Her actions were disobedient and represented the misconception that human beings can be more knowledgeable than God and self-sufficient without Him. Augustine uses this example to show how not living in service of God results in severe negative consequences. After all, Adam and Eve, like all other human beings who choose to live according to man, had made themselves each a “deserter of eternal life” and “doomed to eternal death – from which nothing could save [them] but grace” (313). To choose to live according to man, therefore, is to choose to be exiled from heaven and God’s salvation.
Although human beings may seem to be naturally sinful creatures who cannot resist the urge to fulfill bodily pleasures while choosing to neglect their duties to God, Augustine argues that this is not the case. If the human body were inherently sinful then that would imply that the Creator made human beings fundamentally bad. Since Augustine believes that all things made by God must be good, the flesh cannot be blamed for the sins of human beings. That is why the original sin of Adam and Eve was not caused by “a corruption of the body” (299), but instead was their choice to disobey God’s commandment. Because of that their bodily desires alone were not to blame for their sin; rather, it was a flaw in their spirit. Because the spirit has free will, it is up to each person to decide whether to live according to man or according to Him. Adam and Eve’s failure to obey God was caused by the spirit turning away from Him in an act of pride.
Augustine proposes two ways a human being can live: according to man or according to God. To illustrate this point he creates two cities, each of which embodies the characteristics of one way of life. In the City of Man, people have turned away from God and selfishly believe life is sufficient without Him. Conversely, in the City of God everyone recognizes the might of God and serves Him devoutly in hopes of achieving eternal beatitude after death. Augustine warns that the fate of those living in the City of Man is eternal damnation because they have not earned God’s graces and thus will not be saved. However, when the spirit embraces God and desires only to serve Him, one may live with the promise of a blissful existence in heaven and freedom from earthly misery after death.
Formal Elements in City of God
In Fernando Meirelles’ film City of God (2002) the audience is introduced to and follows the life of Rocket, and his affiliation with Li’l Zé (formerly Li’l Dice), a gang leader in the City of God. In one of the final scenes of the film, a continuation of the opening scene, a battle breaks out between the two rival gangs in which Rocket is caught in the middle. Shots are fired on both sides and police become involved, resulting in the arrests of Carrot and Li’l Zé. Through the lens of Rocket’s camera, the audience witnesses the police take Li’l Zé’s money and possessions as bribes and set him free. Upon his being freed, Li’l Zé is approached by the Runts who brutally murder him both with the intent to take over the drug business, and out of revenge for the murder of one of their own. After the Runts are gone, Rocket approaches Li’l Zé’s bullet-hole-riddled body, and captures the only images of the take down of the tyrant gang leader.
Meirelles uses several formal elements to heighten the authenticity of emotion throughout the film. In the final few scenes in particular, Meirelles utilizes shadow and low angles to depict the clumsiness and nervousness that Rocket is experiencing as he witnesses Li’l Zé’s interaction with the police and the Runts. Rocket is seen only through the cutouts in the wall with his face obstructed by either the presence of his camera or the wall itself, as the policemen, who are cast entirely in shadow, walk down the stairs toward Li’l Zé. After snapping a few pictures, which are caught in brief freeze frames as he takes them, Rocket is seen hurriedly attempting to adjust the settings on his camera from a low angle initially, and then a close-up on his fingers as they fumble with the dials in an attempt to make sure he gets every shot he can and does not miss a single detail.
Another interesting choice of formal element Meirelles uses in the film, is the idea of the camera capturing all of the action of this scene through the lens of Rocket’s camera. The audience experiences this event quite literally through the eyes of Rocket as he is attempting to capture these crucial moments for the City of God. The lens of the camera produces a white circle in the center of the shot as a means of focusing the image, and the audience experiences this. The viewer is able to see the shift in focus of the image as Rocket attempts to steady his hands and the camera in order to get the perfect shot through the cutouts in the wall; which often obstruct the view of the camera in a blurry outline. In between pictures, the camera will switch points of view from Rocket’s to an objective view where the audience catches a glimpse of Rocket through the cutouts in the wall, with his camera ready in his hands and his eye peaking just over the lens at the events unfolding.
Lastly, Meirelles utilizes diegetic sound to capture the snap of the camera over the sound of the conversation between Li’l Zé and the police officers. While the conversation is still audible, the click of the camera takes precedence over the mumbled conversation when Rocket’s point of view is in effect. Meirelles does this for two reasons: the first, is to solidify the audience’s understanding that this is all taking place in Rocket’s point of view, and the snap of the camera is going to be louder to his ears than the conversation taking place. The second, is to further drive one of the main themes of the film; a picture is worth a thousand words. In most cases, the images Rocket is capturing say more about life in the City of God and the corruption of the police than any interview with a citizen or officer could.
Through the use of several formal elements, Meirelles was able to heighten the authenticity of emotion within the film and further the audience’s understanding of the corruption in the City of God. The utilization of shadow over the police officers as they walked down the stairs evoked a sense of fear of being caught within the audience. The low angle and close-up shots of Rocket fumbling with the camera presented feelings of anxiety over being caught and urgency to capture the next image. Anxiety could also be felt every time the camera clicked, for fear that the police or Li’l Zé would hear it and come after Rocket. However, none of these elements would have had nearly the same emotional impact on the audience had the camera not been in Rocket’s point-of-view for the near entirety of the scene. Meirelles’ choice to film through Rocket’s lens made this scene the most impactful piece of the film.