City of God: Editing and Mise-en-scene
The first scene in City of God starts with an extreme close-up of someone sharpening a knife on a black rock. The camera “flickers” or cuts back and forth from a black screen to the knife repeatedly. This makes it hard to see the knife but easier to hear the diegetic sound of the blade running across the rock. At this point (30 seconds into the film) the audience does not know why the blade is being sharpened. As the scene develops further, cross-cutting and extreme close-up shots are used. Many of the shots seem to be preparation for a meal. We see close-up shots of carrots being peeled and the camera crosscuts to a chicken being killed and plucked. Also, a few snips of a man playing a guitar or some other type of string instrument fit into the crosscut pieces. We get clips of sandaled feet shuffling or dancing along with the music being played softly in the background. We see clips of guitars, drums, and shakers intertwined with the clips of chickens, carrots, and feet. About a minute and a half into the scene we see a chicken wiggling its foot out of a rope. Just as the chicken frees itself and lands in the center of an alley, the drumming stops and the camera suddenly cuts to a close-up shot of blood on a plate. This helps to foreshadow other parts in the rest of the film. The chickens are just the very beginning of the killings that will happen throughout the film. After the plate full of blood shot ended, a parallel shot takes the audience straight to a close-up of a man yelling in a foreign language for someone to grab the chicken. We then see a whole “gang” of people running with guns. We then see a crosscut between a scene with Rocket and his friend talking about photography and a scene with the gang standing in the middle of the street. The Lil’ Ze bumps into someone and pushes him down, pulls out a gun, and threatens to kill the guy on the ground. The camera shot used in this part of the scene is an over the...
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