Score of the Week: City of God

For this week’s score, we’re travelling down to sunny Brazil! The Cidade de Deus favela in Rio de Janeiro, to be exact. For it is here where City of God is set (hence the anglicized title) and where the score by Antonio Pinto and Ed Côrtez draws its influence from. What’s extra special about this week’s score, is that, for the first time, we’ll be appreciating some needle drops!


City of God is probably the best film we’ve covered so far on Score of the Week, as it takes the kinetic energy of Tarantino and marries it to the documentary-fiction (for lack of a better word) of Soderbergh circa Contagion. We become intimately familiar with life in the favelas, and through the inevitable passage of time, we are witness to its characters’ and settings’ growth. And as this film takes place mostly during the 1970s, the score presents an interesting fusion of funk and Latin rhythms, all accompanied by the traditional Brazilian cuica (that instrument that sort of sounds like a yelping dog), which shines throughout the score.

By far my favourite tracks from this film’s soundtrack are needle drops (songs not necessarily recorded for the movie). Starring in this film is Seu Jorge, an actor you may recognize as the guitar playing Brazilian aboard Steve Zissou’s Belafonte. Here, he lends his talents to the film’s end credits song, “Convite Para Vida”, a jewel of a track that sports some gorgeous guitar work, a propulsive rhythm section, a haunting chorus, and that ever present cuica.

But the best needle drop, in this humble writer’s opinion, is Raul Seixas’ “Metamorfose Ambulante”, a David Bowie-inspired ballad that soars with aching vocals by Seixas. This track serves as a perfect time capsule of the film’s setting, and serves to highlight the contrasting emotions throughout the film: that of salvation and cyclical violence (summed up beautifully in the film’s final shot).


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