3/17/10

As I read through Wollen’s piece on Godard and the counter cinema, one film that came to mind almost instantly is City of God. This film has many of the elements that Wollen described. The first one was the narrative intransitivity. City of God starts off with a chicken running around and a group of individuals chasing it like madmen. This automatically caught my attention and had me thinking and wondering, why were they chasing the chicken and what’s going to happen next? The next thing I know, the sequence that follows has nothing to do with what I just saw, so this in turn threw me off from the start. The interesting thing about this is that it sucked me into the story for two reasons. First of all, I really wanted to know what the whole chicken sequence was about, and second, it was much like how a friend would tell you a story or an anecdote. At first your friend might tell you an exciting part of the story to grab your attention, and once he’s got you interested you want to know all the details of the story, not necessarily in order of occurrence, but rather in order of importance. As the story progresses you become more interested in the individual characters and the roles they play in the story, but the order of the events are often very scrambled due to the fact that sometimes examples need to be given to understand new characters as they’re introduced into the story. This in turn is intransitivity.

The idea of estrangement also applies to this film because as the audience is watching they’re mostly being influenced by the point of view of the character that is presenting the story to the audience. Yet, the audience still has a hard time telling who’s who, and what role they play even if they pay close attention. Until the very end, you can pretty much make you want of every character, as they aren’t clearly pointed out at villain, hero, or simply an instrument to help the story progress. Wollen states that identification can only truly take place in a situation of suspended belief or time. This is exactly the case in City of God because the audience learns to identify with the main character mainly when he stops to talk to the audience and time is either stopped or altered in some way, such as a “rewind”, so he can communicate and get the audience involved.

Multiple diegesis, if I understood it correctly, was a large part of City of God, because the interlacing of other stories into the central story or story being told at the moment is reoccurring throughout the entire movie until almost the very end. Still, although it may seem confusing at first, these bits and pieces of information being brought in to make part of the story are oddly enough crucial to understanding the film.

Rocha’s article I believe shows how cinema novo is similar to counter cinema in that they’re both radical and revolutionary in their own way. When Rocha addressed the esthetic of hunger, he touched upon two key points. First, he spoke about how the outsiders (Europeans) or the government saw it. He stated that they merely saw films showing how the poor in South America lived as informational or simple displays of primitive action. They saw the conditions, but would rather not do anything about it so that it’s easier to control them. Then Rocha spoke about how the poor viewed these films, and how they allowed themselves to accept their situation and just feel pity for themselves. Meanwhile, instead the poor were intended to view these films so that they may understand that they need change. To understand that independence from poverty can be achieved if they raise their voices, and in extreme cases where their voices can’t be heard, raise their arms in violence to confront the authorities and the oppression they’ve placed on these poor people. He stated that poverty leads to people being fed up, and when someone’s fed up eventually it leads to violence. This violence is the result of someone looking for change.


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