Establishing An Analogy

We find a striking image of a chicken in a Brazilian movie poster for City of God. The poster alludes to the first sequence of the movie, with its image of

The Brazilian movie posterior City of God features a significant image of a large chicken.

armed teenagers and children above the title and a chicken below, its wings spread, apparently trying to fly. The sentence used as a subtitle calls our attention: Se correr o bicho pega, se ficar o bicho come [If you run, the beast will get you; if you stay put, the beast will eat you]. It's a popular Brazilian proverb used in reference to problems that cannot be solved and whose consequences are negative and inevitable. This makes us associate the escape of the chicken with an attempt that sooner or later will be frustrated. The strong colors and the shades of yellow and terracotta suggest a certain rusticity usually associated with ''tropical heat.'' The references to the chicken and to its multiple cultural and linguistic meanings are more common in Latin America, especially in Brazil and Mexico.

As we watch the movie, the association between the chicken's attempt to escape in the opening sequence and the story of Rocket becomes inevitable. Just as the chicken tries to escape the fate that awaited her, running through the narrow streets of the slums before ending up in a pan, so Rocket tries to escape the violence of the drug traffic that controls the ''City of God.'' The use of the popular proverb strengthens the suggestion of an understanding of the movie based on the visual element of the animal in the poster. On the other hand, this association concerns mainly the Brazilian public, or the public familiar with Brazilian culture, which relates to the situations shown in the movie.

In a poster created for the North American market, we see a different approach. The reference to the chicken is replaced by a photo showing Rocket on the beach, being kissed by Angelica, a girl that does not live in the slums and who will be the boy's first love. The popular proverb is replaced by a sentence: ''15 miles from paradise . . . one man will do anything to tell the world everything.'' The emphasis is put on Rocket, and the poster establishes the distance between the audience and what they will see in the movie. The young man becomes the main character who will manage to break the cycle of violence that surrounds him and blow the whistle on the atrocities perpetrated in a space that exists outside the lives of the audience: the slums.

The poster also strengthens the idea of the coexistence of two worlds, the ''tropical paradise'' of Rio's Southern Zone coast and the chaotic and lawless inferno of the slums. The poster used in the Brazilian market, by contrast, suggests a link between the characters and the audience through the continuity of both images (young men with guns and the chicken), and the association between the proverb and the images. The international poster suggests the opposite effect: the delimitation of two universes, ''paradise'' and ''slums,'' in two images separated by the text. The narrator/hero that appears in the text would be the only link between these two spaces. The audience is placed in a position far from the story that will be shown in the movie. That is to say, the upsurge of violence and the dismal living conditions in the slums due to the drug traffic, which are the main themes of the movie, are placed in a space outside the lives of the spectators, to whom this reality is conveyed exclusively by Rocket's courage to narrate the story. (Other posters were created to publicize the movie in other markets, but the image of the chicken is present only in those used in Brazil and in some other Latin American countries.) Besides the initial sequence in which the animal is shown, another explicit reference to a metaphorical meaning of

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