Blog activity: Analyse a scene using film form

Film: City Of God

To be able to analyse films, film sequences or scenes from film form aspect, it needs to be viewed from several angles. Film’s visual aspects, that are called film form, are the following:

  • Editing
  • Cinematography
  • Lighting and colour
  • Mise-en-scène
  • Sound

Task for the first blog post is to analyse a sequence from City of God from 2–3 film form aspects.

The questions for the short analysis are:

A) What are the elements of film form used?
B) What meaning/s do you draw from the sequence through the use of formal techniques (e.g. era; location and setting; characters)?

In this first blog post I will look into Editing, Lighting & Colour and Mise-en-scène to answer the question A.


I have taken three examples of different editing styes into this post from the sequence.

Rhythmic editing

This type of editing can be found in the very beginning of the clip, where the cuts are timed with sound effects (knife is sharpened) and a little later with music (played by the live band in the scene). 
When the music starts, clips of the “band” are added into the mix and alternated with the knife clips. Music’s rhythm is also mixed with the first initial sound as the knife is sharpened.

City Of God

Reaction cuts

Reaction cuts are reverse shots used to show the audience how a character reacts/feels about a certain event for example.
In the sequence audience sees a chicken on the ground, tied from it’s leg so it cannot run away. Reaction shots are used as the chicken sees another chicken slaughtered and cooked for a meal. Audience captures animal’s distress, followed by the chicken’s decision of freeing itself from the same fate.

City Of God


Point of view shots are used to show the audience what characters are seeing.
In the opening sequence of City of God this kind of shot is used as the audience sees what the chicken is seeing - it’s fate. 
This is also used when a group of teenagers are chasing the chicken on the street, audience follows what they see in front of them as they are running. 
Low angle shots are chosen to show chicken’s point of view, as it is running on the narrow streets as its been chased.

City Of God

Lighting & Colours :

Opening sequence starts with shades of blues and greys, giving a feeling of a cold world with harshness in it.

As the main characters of the film are introduced, we see a flashback of Rocket’s (protagonist) childhood that takes place in the 60’s. Camera rotates 360 around him as the scenery changes into a golden warm yellow tones.

The two different times are separated with different tones of colour similarly how Guillermo del Toro uses colour in Pan’s Labyrinth to separate reality from the fantasy world or like Tom Ford does in A Single Man to highlight the main character’s feelings and emotional state.

A Single Man
Pan’s Labyrinth


This is about what we as the audience see in a frame. We can understand a lot by just looking at every shot, frame and scene and pulling it a part to the smallest detail. It includes actors, their movement and performance. Make-Up, costumes and props. Setting, location, shapes and textures. Every little detail that has been put into the frame really.

Location for the sequence is in the backstreets of Rio De Janeiro. People are spending time together, live music is played, food is cooked and drinks are made. When the chicken runs off it sets a new set of action into motion. A group of teenagers starts to chase it, as it is their meal that is running away. It is clear that the neighbourhood is not wealthy as streets are narrow, kids are dressed in dirty clothes, rubbish are burned on the streets, clothes lines are everywhere etc.

By the look of the characters’ clothing the era is in the 70’s. When the audience is taken back to Rocket’s childhood, the title on the screen tells it is 60's.

Sequence builds a juxtaposition between the protagonist, Rocket, and the gang that is lead by Li’l Dice. It is the fundamental position of good and evil. The gang has guns and Rocket has only his camera. He is left at the end of the sequence to make a decision weather to run and maybe save his life, or to take a photograph that might be worth of a sacrifice, as big as losing his own life.

Some of the previous comments already answer question question B, but to go into it in more detail…

Main character is introduced in the film title. Audience sees him standing an taking a photo. Window bars appear as the camera moves away from the character, almost like imprisoning him to the space. Effect sounds of the camera and similar sound than a closing metal door makes when it closes appear in the same time. Audience gets a glimpse of the kind of life the character lives in.

The chicken running away means several people will go hungry unless it is caught again. The chase that started out as a serious thing turns into some sort of a weird game as the boys start shooting the chicken and they become violent. The characteristic of their leader is revealed to the audience before he is introduced, when he threatens a man on the alley who did not catch the chicken even when he had the chance. Li’l Dice behaves like a maniac.

Stand off situation is created as the protagonist tries to catch the chicken and is held between the gang and the police. Guns come out and he is assessing his options “Weather to take a great shot with his camera or get shot”

City Of God