Urban Stories Film Comparisons

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The Films

Urban Stories Comparisons

·     La Haine (Kassovitz, France, 1995)

·     City of God (Meirelles, Brazil, 2002)

… also be ready to mention…

·     Tsotsi (Hood, South Africa, 2005)

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Narrative Time

24 hours in La Haine (and the cinematic detail of the ticking clock and some of the rituals of the day, breakfast, buying food for lunch, night falling)

15-20 years in City of God (and the changing Mise en Scene as the favela develops, and the aging of the characters, and the movement from dope to cocaine)… and the middle ground of Tsotsi, which plays out over a week or so (the beating and recovery of Boston, the needs of the baby, the recovery of the mother).

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Narrative Space

Here there is more in common between the films – we have different country’s versions of ‘the slums’ – the favela in Brazil, the township in South Africa, the banlieue in France. European poverty is different to ‘third world’ poverty and you can look at how that is shown.

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The Use of Sound

The music that is used in the films has been well chosen to have a great impact on the meaning and response within the films, linking in to the social and historical context as well as informing the audience about the characters  .. write about music’s emotional impact.

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Sound Effects

The sound of the clock ticking is one sound effect that is actually added to the realism of La Haine, but is only found within the scene transitions where we see the time of day of the film as it captures one day within a Parisian estate demonstrating the lives and activities of those people within it.  The ticking ties in with a central metaphor of someone falling from a building and expecting bad things ahead as well as having the connotations of a bomb that is about to go off, which is the feeling of those people who live on the estate.

At the beginning of City of God we hear a knife being sharpened which separates the sound of people drinking, dancing and laughing. This is illustrative of the mixture of danger within the celebrative place that Brazil is with its carnivals and tropical weather.

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Dialogue

“Hatred breeds hatred” - Hubert illustrates a central point behind the films of a continuing conflict that has been created in Paris, that you will not win by fighting 1 of 1000 men, you will only cause the others to want to hurt you.

Rocket’s line of, “we were a long way from the picture postcard image of Rio de Janeiro”, illustrates a key theme of the film which is to highlight a true representation of a country and its difficulties.  

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Mise-en-Scene

City of God begins with optimism presented in the wide open spaces and the light colours as families are moving into the favella to begin their lives together. 10 years later, this is juxtaposed by grey metallic colours and corrugated iron as the film shows how the area has deteriorated when more people arrived and little left.

In La Haine the contrast of the city of Paris and the suburbs or banlieues is clear, not only in the streets and attitudes of the police but also in the living conditions of the inhabitants. Vinz’s house where he shares a bedroom with his sister can be seen in great contrast to the huge flat that Asterix is living in.

Mirroring the presentation in La Haine, the characters in Tsotsi travel to the centre of Johannesburg to see the bustling city but bizarrely enough, they do not need to travel this far to see such extremes as they only have to walk over the landfill site to reach gated houses and electrified fences of the wealthy.

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