City of God

Movie review by Nell Minow, Common Sense Media
City of God Poster Image

Common Sense says

age 18+

Powerful, but only for 17 and up.

R 2003 130 minutes

Parents say

age 18+

Based on 9 reviews

Kids say

age 15+

Based on 7 reviews

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A Lot or a Little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 18+

Talk about rape, as violence, not as sex.

Beside commenting the movie I am allowing myself to comment the reviews as I honestly think it is an important comment and plea to send out. I looked the review up to check if there was rape because I was going to re-watch the movie but I recalled it had a deeply disturbing rape scene in it (to use the words of the main review here). Despite the beautiful soundtrack, the poetic camera captures, and the depth of characters, I did not want to put myself through it again. I found the answer to my question of whether there was rape or not but I was disturbed (again) by the fact that it took me a bit to find it. There is no way to know if there is sexual/gendered violence in the first "A lot or a little" part and the textual review talks quite at length (relatively to the briefness of it) about violence without mentioning rape. Then in the end of the last sentence, a sentence that begins talking about sex, it finally mentions the "non-explicit but deeply disturbing rape scene". So here is my plea. In reviews, please talk about sexual violence upfront, in the same sentence in which you talk about violence, and not in the sentence you talk about sex. Rape involves sexual organs and the extent to which it is "sexual" ends about there. It is about abuse and power-related illness. Please do your best to clearly separate rape from sex in young's minds. A parent review does the same thematic grouping, which I think hints to the fact that there is a cultural association, beyond individual writing choices, that needs to be debunked. As the scene is admittedly deeply disturbing even for most adults, I would highly recommend to talk about it too! This is not mentioned in the "Talk to your kids about" part either. I find the structural omissions of rape from 3/4 of the review components as something that also hints to a remaining cultural taboo that must be dismantled with fierce urgency. What to talk about. Firstly, I would warn before hand that there is such a disturbing scene. After the movie I would say in the most comforting and supportive tone: It might be hard to talk about it, but did you find the rape scene disturbing? Can you say what was disturbing about it? Are you afraid you might face such an experience as a survivor, or maybe even as perpetrator? Where do you think most rapes happen? [not in dark streets like in the movie] How do you think the perpetrator end up doing such violence? What do you think it is about? How could they avoid it or how could the perpetrator's peers prevent it? And the question that I think is most important at this time: How do you think the survivor can recover? What could be helpful? If you want to talk about how the survivor can minimize chances to encounter such violence, I would still focus more on healing and finding support, and how to offer support if one come to know that a friend encountered such violence. I would discuss more how perpetrators could be prevented by peers (www.mvpstrat.com/the-bystander-approach/) and prevent themselves from doing such violence, as it seems a more logical prevention strategy once we agree that rape is not normal and can be ended!
1 person found this helpful.
age 18+

Powerful film or voyeurism of "the poor"?

A film that is mesmerizing and violent and shiny. It is a complicated predicament. To praise a film for its authenticity, but at the same time recognize that by using "real poor people" it also invites us to be voyeurs into poverty. However, would favelas be in the public lexicon if it were not for this film and its international success? A complicated conversation to have that does not lead to any clear winners, much as this film does at its end.

Movie Details

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