Disco Scene in City of God
The scene I have chosen is the disco scene (i.e Benny’s scene). Mise en scene is an
important factor in creating the ambience in the critical scene where Benny meets
his demise. The scene begins with the display of the ever-popular Benny conversing
with all the different people of the City, some people whom the audience would not
usually place together, i.e religious people with gangsters. We can tell they are all
different due to the use of costume, such as the chains worn by the gangsters.
There is also the depiction of Lil Ze being amongst this crowd, which further
highlights the differences in the city that Benny has been able to bring together in
one small club.
This is a vital part of the scene because it shows how Benny, just one character who
isn’t regarded as a protagonist, can bring together and put life into the City, this is
accurately conveyed by the use of mise en scene through character and costume.
This allows the audience to take in Benny’s ‘life and soul’ of the party demeanour,
and this creates positive feelings towards his character, as he is liked by all.
The use of lighting is also present due to the fact that they are in a disco, where
bright lights are essential. They are cast on Benny to show his bright character, who
shines throughout the club because everyone is there because of him and he is the
player that brings the pieces together.
The director establishes a feeling of despair when Benny is killed by Blacky, this is
due to the earlier use of mise en scene where Benny is presented as someone who
brings characters from all walks of life together, in the City of God where everyone is
out for themselves. It also foreshadows the fact that Lil Ze is only in cognition with
Benny, i.e Benny is the sole person who can keep a reign on Lil Ze’s terror, so
therefore the audience now feel like the character of Lil Ze will spiral further out of
Further on in the scene, we see Lil Ze trying to emulate Benny’s effortless skills with
the opposite gender, we see the girl he aims his feelings towards rejecting him to a
dance. Mise en scene is used here to develop Lil Ze’s character, so that we as an
audience see that he can not match Benny in social skills or character. It also shows
us how low Lil Ze’s self-esteem is as the reaction on his face when being rejected
shows that it really hurt him. This unexpected emotional response from Lil Ze who
seems so cold on the exterior generates a feeling of empathy from the audience, as
we start to think maybe Lil Ze can change.
This scene is a key scene in regards to the use of mise en scene, it develops the
character of Lil Ze, and displays the depths of the character Benny.
Micro elements in City Of God
There are many micro elements in the film that add to the suspense and tension
created by the director aswell as the verisimilitude shown in the film. These engage
the audience into what the genre of the film will be and give us a clear insight into
The first micro element I am going to talk about is the extreme close up of a knife
that is being sharpened at the very beginning of City Of God this is immediately
showing that the film is going to be violent and a lot of violence will occur for the
remainder of the film. The sharpening of the knife is seen a couple of times in the
film when skipping the narrative and we can say it is maybe a visual motif to show a
different chapter in the film. Also, a knife is an everyday item that people use so it is
indicating that violence is an everyday theme in the film and it is nothing new when
Another micro aspect of the film is the props used almost everyone is carrying a gun
even little kids which makes the audience shocked and surprised as this film is
showing the realism that is going on in the Favelas. Also, guns carry one of the
biggest themes in the film which is power and whoever has the best weapons/ most
weapons can kill the top dog and eventually take his place till someone comes and
tries to take their authority and the cycle continues. The theme of violence is also
come across as a norm in the setting as weapons are literally everywhere and even
handed out to the runts as a ‘present’ from Lil Ze.
By Ahmed Ali
City of God - Benny's Farewell
In this scene there are many different camera angles and movements used to show
how chaotic and busy everything is that is going on in this scene. We see a high
angle shot from a hand held camera filming everyone dancing suggesting how
energetic the atmosphere appears. The camera cross cuts from this high angle shot
where we can see Benny and Rocket hugging to a close up shot of Lil Ze with a shot
reverse shot, showing the audience how Lil Ze feels left out and irrelevant as he is
not the one hugging his best friend.
The camera zooms in at a fast pace to a close up shot of Blacky in the corner
looking very suspicious and anxious making the audience question why is this
character looking guilty and looks like he is in hiding.
Throughout the scene a hand held camera is used which makes the audience feel a
part of the atmosphere creating a high verisimilitude.
When Lil Ze pushes Rocket to the floor we see a low angle shot of Lil Ze looking
down making the audience feel as if they are looking up to him. This shot shows his
power and superiority as the reverse shot of Rocket at a high angle shows the
opposite of this as we see how scared and threatened he looks.
When the flashing lights begin they become faster which implies to the audience
that something is about to happen as everything becomes more quicker in the
frame, for example when Benny and Lil Ze have an argument the cuts between
them and Blacky are shown at a fast pace which also creates suspense to what is
going to happen next.
A high wide angle shot is used to show everyone in the club running away as soon
as the gun is shot which suggests how they automatically know how to react when
they hear a gun as they know if they stay they are more likely to be killed.
The flashing lights continue once Benny is shot to show how mad everything
becomes in the scene which is different to when other characters are killed because
it is seen as an ordinary thing if another citizen is killed however because Benny has
an identity in this film the audience can see how much affect the death of this
character has on other characters. We see this also from the close up shots of
Angelica crying whilst kissing Benny as he lays dead on the floor which tells the
audience how he was more than just another hoodlum from the favela.
At the end of the scene a wide long shot is used to show the empty building with Lil
Ze crying over Benny which is used to show how alone and empty Lil Ze is now and
how he feels as his best friend has been taken away.
By Numra Tariq
Scene Analysis of Rocket photographing the gang
When Rocket is handed the camera to take pictures of the gang, the silence that
was instilled by Lil Zè's anger turns into an upbeat and cheerful non-diegetic music.
The music links to changes in mood because now that the camera is working
everyone is more enlightened. There is a low angle shot of Rocket as he is
rearranging the positions of the gang members. The use of the low angle shot
makes Rocket look like in command and as an authoritative figure to Lil Zè and his
The rearrangement can be linked to Rocket metaphorically 'rearranging' his life as he
quickly learns of his talent of how skilful he is with a camera. Moreover the rapid
shooting of the camera is like Rocket is shooting Lil Zè with an actual gun. This is
ironic because Rocket works for a news agent that is a threat to Lil Zè and his
business. Rocket takes shots of Lil Zè and his gang while they are holding up thier
guns. This also makes them look like they are surrendering with their guns in the air.
This could link to the idea that Lil Zè and his gang will be defeated and will
surrender to the police at some point because of their illegitimate occupation.
As Rocket is ordering Lil Zè and the others around, this could show that he will soon
become more authoritative than them in the future because of the photographer job
he soon secures. In addition the constant use of low angle shots when Rocket is
operating the camera shows that the camera gives Rocket power, respect and
makes him feel important. So the camera is Rocket's 'gun'. Contrasting to the other
characters where their guns alone grant them power.
The non-diegetic sound again links to changes in mood; when Lil Zè approaches
Rocket at the end of the photo shoot, the music stops and Rocket's smile fades away
because of how close he is to Lil Zè. This happens because of the character of Lil Zè;
as someone who is feared and a constant threat.
THE MONTAGE SEQUENCE IN CITY OF GOD
The montage sequence in City of God is a key moment as it reflects how life in the
Favelas never changes and the person you are when you’re younger is the person
you will grow up to be when you’re older. The low angle shots of Lil Ze shooting at
the camera represents him to never change this is unexpected as we expect a
montage sequence to represent how life has changed. This is significant as Lil Ze is
shown to be violent and the power of the gun has influence him from a young age,
through this other characters begun to fear him and he gained respect through this.
They need weapons to have some status within the favelas as it is a dog eat dog
world. Through this we learn that they don’t have much of a childhood and die at a
It also conveys that in the favelas the characters cannot change as they have not
been educated on what’s right and what’s wrong portraying the theme of poverty
and crime. The character change within this sequence is relevant to the whole film
as it reflects how experiences of characters can make them who they are in the
future. The medium long shot of Lil Dice shooting Goose shows that just because he
is younger than them and they have left him without weapons before he isn’t going
to let them walk all over him. This sequence later reflects that because he has been
belittled and not treated like the rest of the young people in the Favelas the gun
gives him the power to get back at the people who casted him out.