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Pro-Torture Film Coming Soon to a Theater Near You


PUBLISHED: October 10, 2007

Last week I found myself wearing a borrowed suit jacket and striped shirt at the gala premiere of a new Brazilian movie called “Tropa de Elite.” I’d heard it was the best movie of the Rio Film Festival, and getting in felt like some sort of accomplishment. There was a red carpet and mobs of people outside with cell phone cameras taking pictures of the stars. I’ll admit I found all this sort of charming and new, since I’ve been to very few events in my life with even a whiff of this glamor. There was a brief opening ceremony, then the lights dimmed, and the film began. I feel compelled to write something about this movie, if only because I have a feeling it is going to be big—and not just in Brazil, where it has been widely available on pirated DVD for more than three months, and is already a hit. It’s very likely going to be big in the US, where it will surely be marketed as the newest version of “City of God,” and add to the list of films that paint a bleak picture of life in the slums of the developing world. For the record, I thought “City of God” was a work of art: yes, it was a drug-filled, hyper-violent story of the favelas of Rio, but it had humanity. This new film is very similar, though without the art, minus the elegant narrative structure, with a jerkier camera style, and a much higher body count. But that’s not my problem with the movie either. Violence in film is fine, often necessary, but “Tropa de Elite” is something else: an apologia for torture. It is Abu Ghraib set in Rio, Guantánamo in the favelas. And it’s coming soon to a theater near you: Harvey Weinstein is distributing this film in the US, and he must be very much behind this project, because he flew to Rio to be at the premiere. I watched one of Hollywood’s most important players mingle with the Brazilian glitterati, collecting their congratulations. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

The film is about a Captain Beto Nascimento, a stressed-out father-to-be, and member of an anti-narcotics task force called BOPE. BOPE’s thankless task in the crime-ridden city is not only to confront the drug dealers who control the favelas, but also the corrupt police officers who abet their trade. Ah, an anti-corruption program—we can all get behind that, can’t we? They accomplish this work with heavy weaponry, ready trigger-fingers, and investigative techniques that include savage beatings, simulated drownings with plastic bags, and threatened sodomy, among others. Not only does the movie have you rooting for this sort of hyper-violence, BOPE NEVER TORTURES OR KILLS ANYONE WHO ISN’T GUILTY. That’s right. In the entire movie, in two hours worth of summary executions and deafening gun battles, not one innocent is killed by BOPE, and their tactics are consistently justified. Sure, and everyone at Guantánamo is Al-Qaeda. This movie will be sold in the US as a window into some crude Latin American reality, but if the script included aliens and a boy wizard with a magic wand, “Tropa de Elite” couldn’t be more fantastical. And while BOPE tortures, intimidates, and murders a vast array of unequivocally ruthless sociopaths, those who question police violence are ridiculed—they are portrayed throughout the film as out of touch with reality, as a bunch of pothead, bleeding-heart rich kids. There isn’t a single legitimate voice raised against BOPE or its tactics, and the squad itself is represented as being able to police itself, to rein in its violent tendencies when necessary. In one scene, as BOPE goes door to door looking for Baiano, a local drug dealer who has made the mistake of killing one their men, they roust a sleeping man from his humble, dirt-floor room, guns drawn, and then politely ask if they may search his home. The director plays the man’s obvious terror—and the audience’s expectation of explosive violence—for a laugh. More nauseating is the training camp that Nascimento leads: School of the Americas 2.0, a barbaric series of humiliations effected upon would-be recruits, men who emerge desensitized killers, all, of course, completely justified in the context of the film. Fighting crime, the film says, isn’t pretty. It’s alright to kill poor people, according to “Tropa de Elite,” because they’re probably guilty of something.

Imagine if the Caviles of Guatemala, that frightening death squad responsible for the deaths of thousands, that terrifying heavily-armed, blood-thirsty faction of a narco-state—imagine if they had a recruiting film that was going to be shown in American theaters. Or Haiti’s Ton-Ton Macoute, or Colombia’s paramilitaries, or … Imagine if all the horrors of Abu Ghraib were given a slick Hollywood treatment—Fox’s “24” but far bloodier, the same crooked ethics of George W. Bush’s war on terror transposed to an exotic tropical locale. This is “Tropa de Elite,” and it’s coming soon.

The film was shown at two locations simultaneously—the Hollywood style premiere that I attended, and down the street at an overflow theater set up for regular folks. Reports said that there a portion of the audience began shouting, “Reactionaries!” at the screen and stormed out. I wish I had.

33 Comments

Jason Erik Lundberg's picture
I continue to be horrified and appalled at the wrong-headed idea that 1) torture nets usable information (it has statistically been shown to do the opposite), 2) only guilty people are tortured (if you’re innocent, you have nothing to worry about, right?), and 3) torture is necessary because of the “ticking time-bomb” theory (exemplified in propaganda fiction such as *24*). Time and time again, the terrorist plots that are foiled throughout the world are done so through plain old investigative police work, not through torture.
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Daniel Alarcón's picture
Jason, you’ve identified an essential weakness in the arguments in those who defend the necessity of torture. It may seem very tough, and may satisfy for some an emotional need for retribution, but let’s be clear: it doesn’t work. In the Peruvian case, the Shining Path, a homicidal Maoist terrorist group, was brought down by diligent, painstaking police work–staking out safe houses, going through trash, tailing the right people. It makes for less glamorous film and television, but it’s true.
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Silvino Neto's picture
Silvino Neto · 10 years ago
Daniel, I honestly respect your opinion about the film, but I think you’ve made a mistake commenting about the violence portrayed on the film. You’re a peruvian immigrant living in USA, who hasn’t got any connection to the whole political/social environment of Rio de Janeiro. It’s rather easy to claim that all the violence applied by the members of BOPE is unnecessary or unjustified. But those guys are constantly putting their lives under a major risk, they’re trying to dismantle one of the most complex, heavy-armed criminal organizations of the whole world. You’ll be given no mercy if you find yourself on the hands of a drug-dealer. You’ve made some very incorrect judgements on your article. I don’t recall any part of the movie stating that, “it’s alright to kill poor people, because they’re probably guilty of something”. The message that the film actually shows is that, no mercy will be granted to those that stay of the out of law. And that this is a war, period. And at war, you kill. Maybe you liked City of God better, because it’s shown the outlaws perspective.
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Esraa Khalouf, from Syria's picture
Esraa Khalouf, ... · 10 years ago
Well, WOW!! Probably if George, W. Bush read this, he’d just…!!?? (put anything you want on the dots, though I prefer’ burst out laughing!’.) As for ”the City of God”, I hope that Bush has become the ”new spiritual body into which the flesh of the saints shall be transformed” as for his being in Iraq, on a mission from God, Himself. I think you justified, very fairly I think, a bit of why we (Arabs) hate Captain Beto Nascimento, though we won’t be able to see what he has got to do with us now, theatrically speaking of course! I suppose your Alberto Gonzales’ voice was not as pathetic as the “Tropa de Elite” and the BOPE’s stars or was he, at any rate, speaking? Sorry for being long, waspish and a bit out of temper, but it’s my people’s issue that I have to stand up for. ¡cuidado! I don’t think that George W. Bush will just burst out laughing when he reaches your delicate line that says: ” Reports said that there a portion of the audience began shouting, “Reactionaries!”. ” Thanks Daniel, only for being just without seeing the whole cruel truth that lies beneath. ………………­…………………­………………………­………………………­…………………­………………­…………
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Daniel Alarcón's picture
Silvino: Thank you for your thoughtful response. You’re right, I’m not from Rio, nor am I intimately acquainted with the life of the favelas, but it’s worth pointing out that many Cariocas had reactions similar to mine. What about all those people who stormed out of the theater, calling the film reactionary? They were not foreigners, I can assure you. Two days after the premiere, the actor who plays the main character, Beto, wrote an essay in O Globo defending the film against the charge that it was a piece of fascist propaganda. I doubt he would have felt compelled to do so if the reaction against the film were not so strong, and home-grown. In a larger sense though, my concern is the impact of the film once it is exported, and seen out of its Brazilian context. No one denies that police work in Rio de Janeiro’s favelas is terrifying, brutal, or violent work. The entrenched homicidal drug gangs are not going to be dismantled easily–however, the film subtly and not-so-subtly delegitimizes every voice that raises any concern whatsoever about the necessity of police violence. This is my primary complaint with the film–everyone who says, “wait a second, is it ok to shoot first and ask questions later?” is ridiculed as being out of touch with reality, living in a dream, a hopeless idealist, or worse. As someone living in the US, I’m concerned about the implicit message of the film as it applies to our own “War on Terror,” our war against (to borrow your phrasing) “one of the most complex, heavy-armed criminal organizations of the whole world.” The logic of the film is the logic of the Bush Administration’s “War on Terror” and where has that led us? Esraa: Thank you for your comment. I have many fond memories of Syria. Please give my best to the students and facutlty in Aleppo.
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Erik Sande's picture
Erik Sande · 10 years ago
Just a quick reply to Silvino. I am not Brazilian, nor am I Peruvian. However, I can certainly see the links and connect the dots. US military intervention leads to lawlessness and torture. This is, of course, not only limited to the present “War on Terror” but is a recurring theme laced throughout S. America’s history. I highly recommend Naomi Klein’s new book, “The Shock Doctrine” as almost the whole first third of the book is focused on America’s intervention and “humanitarian assistance” programs in S. America.
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D.Souto's picture
D.Souto · 10 years ago
I’m gonna try to find some images with a friend of mine who is BOPE Police officer. But The author did not mention the movie is passed on 96/97 Time Frame. Now is a lot Worse then back then. I’m saying is not uncomun BOPE arrested Some one with Bazookas, Rocket Propel Grenades, Grenades, They Even Confiscate A stinger Missile Back in 01. The thing is so Out of hand inRio now a Days THE BOPE only enters in Slum, with Armored Car Called Caveirao, but is no just a regular armored car is a military like armored car, Because the weapon of choice of dealers is a AK-47, but is not uncomun a .50 machine gun. The thing is The Governor of Rio Said is a “WAR” on the Drugdealers, if it’s a WAR many innocent People is gonna die in resulted. But Still The Governor of Rio don’t wanna the Army take over the Slums ( why I ask). I’m not saying Torture is always a legitime method or I’m in Favor of Torture, But Theres is Always a exception for the Rule, The situation In Rio and some others cities in Brazil and South America it’s that execption. And Will totally support the attitude of BOPE or any other Elite squad in Brasil.
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Orlando Biano Gomes's picture
Well.. what the movie try to show is how the things works on Rio by a point of view. Of course if the point of view was of Baino, instead of the the Capitain Nascimento, the perspective would be very different. But this is something great, if you ask me, cause we brazilians are not used to see the point of view of those who put themselves in the front aganist the traffic… we (brazilians) often criticize the usual violence of the police and, in general, we are against the torture, but, as I said, the film was an oportunite to see a different side of the things… Oh!… and I’m sorry for my english.
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marcelo vieira's picture
marcelo vieira · 10 years ago
There’s a very important point that you miss, and it has to do with brazilian dictatorship (20 years, beggining in 1964): because of it, everything that was identified with order and law in Brazil was sort of dismissed by artists and intelectuals. So, it was cool to be an outlaw, or support one, because it was, in a very twisted way, linked with the fight for democracy. Dictatorship is now long gone, but this very stupid culture remained. I can easily say that tropa de elite was the first cultural product that I consumed in Brazil that didn’t show a romantic vision on drug dealers or slum gangsters. The way it shows the hipocryte role our society plays on this subject is very accurate as well. No ones wants to get mugged by favela gangsters, but no one sees any problem in buying pot or coke from them.
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Daniel Alarcón's picture
Marcelo: I agree with your last statement. Every hipster in Brooklyn or Oakland or Lapa who does a line of coke on a Friday night is–however impeccably progressive they might imagine their politics to be–funding the continuing chaos in countries like Peru, Colombia, Brazil, Guatemala, Mexico, etc. This drug use is luxury paid for in blood on the streets of Latin American cities, and all along the route that brings drugs north. I don’t excuse that. In fact, I appreciated how Tropa de Elite made this point. It was one of the highlights of the film. But my critique of the overall message of the film does not come because I was seduced by the romance of the outlaw. Sorry. You’ve got the wrong guy. That’s not me. Saying that we can do better than endorse summary executions is a very different statement altogether.
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D.Souto's picture
D.Souto · 10 years ago
“The film is about a Captain Beto Nascimento, a stressed-out father-to-be, and member of an anti-narcotics task force called BOPE. ” Clearly we see you don’t know what is happening in Rio BOPE is not a anti-Narcotics. BOPE is Brazilian Version of Swat. “jason lundberg:3) torture is necessary because of the “ticking time-bomb” theory (exemplified in propaganda fiction such as *24*). Time and time again, the terrorist plots that are foiled throughout the world are done so through plain old investigative police work, not through torture.” The thing is the Slums in Brasil are very different from the “slums” in the USA, In the USA they have streets, and every thing in the right place. But in Rio the construction are illegal theres no street, just narrow passageways. So the cahnges os BOPE’s Squad get lost or Ambush int the slums are Pretty high.
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Bruno Maeda's picture
Bruno Maeda · 10 years ago
I’m gonna assume that USA Movies Industry rarely launches movies with the violence theme. I’m also gonna assume that they never produced any kind of movie which torture is a way of getting info about something from a “bad guy”. That’s what happens when people go to the theater to see a movie which historical context and don’t know ANYTHING about what happens and what happened with a certain population which is part of the real history around the movie: a crap review. You have the smallest brain with the worst toughts I ever saw in a reviewer.
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Waldo Jaquith's picture
You have the smallest brain with the worst toughts I ever saw in a reviewer.
Bruno, you’re welcome to disagree with anything that anybody ever writes on here, but you may not insult them. You do yourself no favors here: your inability to refute the author’s point on logical grounds can only lead to the conclusion that you are simply unable to do so.
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marcelo vieira's picture
marcelo vieira · 10 years ago
“But my critique of the overall message of the film does not come because I was seduced by the romance of the outlaw. Sorry. You’ve got the wrong guy. That’s not me. Saying that we can do better than endorse summary executions is a very different statement altogether.” Oh, I didn´t want to accuse you of anything, especially being seduced by the myth of the cool outlaw. My comment was really meant to give you some insight about why this movie is getting so much attention in Brazil. It´s definetly not because of the torture scenes, believe me. It´s because of the message that society finances crime, the one that we both agree. It´s also because it shows honest policemen, something that viewers are not used to see. It´s not that they do not exist. They were never shown this way before. After all, it doesn´t sound to me like a movie that defends torture, but one that just shows it the way it happens, since it´s epidemic in Rio. I agree with you that this movie could do a clearer statement about torture, but it´s not its primary focus. It´s about corruption.
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Victor Silvestre's picture
Victor Silvestre · 10 years ago
Esses americanos são uns fanfarrões mesmo ò,ó Ciao
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The Overtaker's picture
The Overtaker · 10 years ago
Você não é crítico, você é MOLEQUE! MOLEQUE! :)
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Alexander Jabert's picture
Alexander Jabert · 10 years ago
Hello Daniel. I think that your interpretation of the movie “Tropa de Elite” is a bit of hand. The choice made by the director to describe the scenario of violence in Rio de Janeiro through the point of view of Cap. Nascimento doesn’t mean that he agrees with the violent tactics used by the brazilian police in general, or by the BOPE in particular. To say that would be the same to say that Coppola agrees with the structure and methods of the Italian mafia in America, something I don’t think he does. The choice made by the director was a risky one for sure, but was the one most likely to create discomfort and to produce a debate about the widespread use of violence in the brazilian society, and as we can see it has achieved this objective very well since the movie is the most hot topic in the country these days. As a result I think it was a smart choice in terms of both, a strategy to sell the movie and, again, a way to promote debate. Having said that I think that the great merit of the movie is to show how EVERYTHING is wrong in Brazil right now. First of all it shows how the police and the BOPE are wrong. Cap. Nascimento isn’t one of the good guys, his a mother%&*er, and the movie shows that, for example, in the way he treats his wife or in the way that he lest a 10 year old boy to be killed by drug dealers in the favela, something that he knew was going to happen. Second, as was pointed by Marcelo Vieira, due to the dictatorial regime imposed to us from the mid 60’s to the mid 80’s – with the help of the CIA and the American government I must ad – there is a tendency in certain sectors of brazilian society to produce a romantic vision of criminals and gangsters, usually depicted as the ones who are “fighting the system”. The film shows that this vision is no longer acceptable and that the gangsters and drug dealers in Brazil are criminal. Period. There is a reason why the BOPE is considered to be the best prepared police force in the world to deal with urban warfare, it’s because of the level of organization and gun power used by the drug dealers in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro. Also, if you get shot by a assault rifle, say a AK–47 or an AR-15, you better pray that you are in Rio de Janeiro, because nowhere in the world will you find doctors better prepared and with more practice in dealing with this type of gun wound. Finally, the movie shows how everybody in the brazilian society is responsible for the widespread violence we face today; be it the middle/upper class hipster who by drugs from the drug dealers, helping to finance their weapons; be the regular citizen who bribes the police on a regular basis in order to not get caught committing petite crimes; be the corrupt police or be the hypocrite middle/upper class who only protest against violence when some white-well-fed-educated-middle class boy or girl get caught in the crossfire between police and criminals, but at the same time doesn’t seem to care when it happens to poor black people. That’s why I think “Tropa de Elite” is a great movie. I feel glad that you felt nauseated in the end of the movie. I feel nauseated every day living here in Rio de Janeiro.
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Victor Bogado's picture
Victor Bogado · 10 years ago
I live in Rio de Janeiro and I think that Daniel Alarcón is right in most, if not all his points. The movie, witch is saw in a very specific point of view of a hyper-violent and dehumanized BOPE policeman. That point of view is what makes the movie show such out of balance view. I think that this point of view is an unfortunate one, it makes it seem that it works, and yet BOPE has been around for years and have any of us seen the violence tone down as result? The answer is of course no, the movie takes places in 1997 and from that time the violence has escalated. Such violent raids and torture may have a superficial and timed result but they really makes the problem worst. They push the poor people outer from the society. One must question why those people who have no rights and are constantly being disrespect and abused by all will uphold and contribute to the society that makes such effort to push them away? The problem is serious, the solution to it certainly involves some violence and war. But this movie, and the notion that this kind of undiscriminated violence does help, when in actual it only fuels the feelings that creates even more recruits to the dealer’s army is not helping. Having said all of that, I do think that the movie is good. It is well directed, it sure lacks if compared with “Cidade de Deus” but as an action movie it has it’s thrills and can catch the attention. I recommend it, as entertainment, not as a how-to-solve-Rio-de-Janeiro’s-problems.
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Dunha - O Fanfarrão's picture
Dunha - O Fanfarrão · 10 years ago
I think before you talk about Troa de Elite or Brazilian Police, you should look at Guancanamo and Iraq (where are the biological weapons?)… have a nice day
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Waldo Jaquith's picture
I think before you talk about Troa de Elite or Brazilian Police, you should look at Guancanamo and Iraq (where are the biological weapons?)…
I see that you are not familiar with VQR. We have written at great length about each of these topics. I recommend starting with Joseph Margulies’ “A Prison Beyond the Law”, Salmon Rushdie’s “The Ministry of False Alarms,” Jack Fischel’s “The War in Iraq,” Ashley Gilbertson’s “Last Photographs,” “Capturing Saddam,” and Chris Hondros’ “A Window on Baghdad.” There are a great many more articles on those topics, but that should get you started. Presumably, now that you see that these topics have been discussed within the pages of this publication at great length, you have a response to the article at hand?
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Monica's picture
Monica · 10 years ago
Ô Dunha! Did you read what he wrote? He precisely criticized Bush and the war, and compared BOPE’s to Bush’s policies in Iraq & Guantanamo. Read the whole thing before you jump to conclusions… it can be embarrassing, man… Great post, Daniel, I agree with what you say, final solutions won’t come from more violence & torture. People don’t understand that you can kill as many drug dealers as you want, new ones will replace them and they will be even worse. They have *nothing* to lose, they’re used to seeing death, to pain, you name it. And they’re not the big guys behind drug trafficking, they’re just the soldiers. The problem is very complex and people tend to look for simple solutions. But responsibility lies in our government – municipal, state & federal – mainly judiciary and executive branches. They’re the ones with the power to find a solution and go after the big guys. You gotta improve police work, but also protect judges and witnesses, improve the prison system (a factory of criminals), control corruption, arms commerce and soo many other things. But the government lacks political will. You make a good point about the Sendero. And we should also remember how the Italians dealt with the Mafia. Having said all that, though, I’d just like to ask you to try to see things from the point of view of the inhabitants of Rio and the opinion expressed (sometimes very rudely, I’m afraid) by some commenters here. You have to understand what happens to you when you live in a city like Rio – you learn to live with a pair of eyes behind your neck, you fear everyone & everything, you’re afraid if your kid isn’t back yet from just a party, you lose your freedom and peace of mind – all this can take your level of tolerance to less than zero – you learn to hate the people who make you feel so afraid. Thanks for your comments, I’ve never seen a more Brazilian foreigner than you! And I do think that the director is no friend of torture – have you ever seen his first movie, Bus 174? It’s a great one, can’t miss it. :)
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Daniel Alarcón's picture
If Tropa de Elite has any merit, it is that it has sparked a discussion about the unacceptable violence in Rio de Janeiro and the appropriate response to the crisis. This will be, I trust, very useful. Having seen Bus 174, I think the director’s heart is in the right place, but sometimes these things get away from us. When I saw Harvey Weinstein at the premeire in Rio de Janeiro, I had this sinking feeling: the film get wide US release, and once it is removed from its context, the nuance, the possibilities of the informed debate taking place in Brazil, will be lost. I doubt that there will be a similar debate here about the methods of the BOPE, or that folks will realize that those methods are also our methods. At a time when the Bush Administration is selling unadulterated doses of fear as they chisel away at our constitutionally guaranteed freedoms, I found this movie particularly troubling. I am an American fed up with Guantánamo, disgusted by Abu Ghraiib, sick of the warped logic of the so-called War on Terror. This is what I bring to the conversation, and perhaps will help explain my reaction to the film. I won’t try to convince those who resorted to name calling, but I would like to thank everyone who honestly disagreed and responded thoughtfully.
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Luke bosshard's picture
Luke bosshard · 10 years ago
Daniel, as a resident of Rio who reads the newspapers everyday, and knows a few witnesses of the police violence in Rio, i can olly say that the violence portayed in the movie is, at least, downplayed. Torture techniques used by BOPE are far more ellaborate and the bodycount is even higher. consider also that the book and the movie tells the actions of BOPE almost 10 years ago, ant things got way more violent than that nowadays, but violence and torture are actually the good part of the movie. these actions have never been brought to light like this, and are finally bein discussed. the movie sounds reactionary because it is subjective to Nascimento’s point of view, who is completely involved in the BOPE “sect”. it up to the viewer to understand that thats morally wrong. I recommend the following documentaries : ” noticias de uma guerra particular” (i guess it comes in some CITY OF GOD dvd extras) , wich has long enterviews with Rodrigo Pimentel (who wrote the book in wich the movie is based and “inspiration” to Nascimento’s character) and “bus 174”, directed by josé padilha (same director of Tropa de Elite), so you can understand the directors point of view.
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Luke bosshard's picture
Luke bosshard · 10 years ago
almost forgot: try to get the BOOK “elite da tropa”, written by Cap. Pimentel and others. It lists stories from BOPE members that are WAY worse than the ones depicted in the movie. bizarr torture techniques, cold-blooded executions of entire families, and examples of how uncontrolled the BOPE is, like the plan to execute the governor of Rio, who was “interfering” in police activities in the favelas.
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Daniel Alarcón's picture
Excellent recommendations, Luke. I bought a copy of the book when I was in Rio. I agree that your statement–“it up to the viewer to understand that thats morally wrong.”–was the likely intention of the film, but the reaction I saw was celebratory, and therefore incredibly disturbing. But you’re absolutely right–at the very least, the discussion of these techniques in a wider society will be profound and useful. Which brings me to my greatest frustration: here in the US, there hasn’t been a real discussion about this yet, a wide-ranging conversation about our eroding moral authority, or the corrosive impacts of practices like extraordinary rendition, waterboarding, indefinite detainments of foreign combatants, warrantless wiretapping, etc. Tropa de Elite has put these issues front and center in Rio de Janeiro–when will this happen in the US?
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Idelber's picture
Dear Daniel, You’re absolutely right that reactions to the film have ranged from uncritical celebration of the BOPE’s techniques to angry denunciations of the film as fascist. But these reactions have more to do with the current state of this debate in Brazilian society than with the film itself. Personally, I don’t think either reading does justice to the complexity of Padilha’s work. While you are correct that most of the characters who question police violence are ridiculed (most, not all: think of the girl in the NGO, ultimately a positive, if naive, image), it’s well and good to remember that Cap. Nascimento is a problematic character through and through, one who is, after all, leaving the police, drowning in pharmaceutical drugs, having outbursts with his wife, looking for psychological help, etc. In other words, there are enough elements to prevent identification of the main character’s point of view with that of the film. If that identification has been the most common reaction (on both sides of the argument), this has to do, as I said above, less with the film and more with the current split over public security in Brazilian society, a split which the film has the great merit of making visible. For a more thorough presentation of this argument, I invite you to read my own review, which also brings links to other pieces that have argued for a more complex interpretation of the movie. Best regards,
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Hoffman's picture
Hoffman · 10 years ago
I would like to add to all the comments I’ve read above. I am Brazilian and i have to say that even though the film can be seen as an ocean of torture and blood, the reality is that the favelas, or slums are places where the tactics used by the men of BOPE are necessary. I don’t know if the people who have criticized the film, had the curiousity of rewinding it to the beginning where the narrator explains that there are more than 700 favelas in Rio and all of them are commanded by guerrilas carrying heavy weaporing which in most countries are used for war. Unfortunately, now this is my opinion, there is no other way to combat the crime scene in the favelas but with brutal violence, it is understandable that a new government project is more than necessary to stimulate the honorable living in the slums, however, while this projects doesnt come into reality, the BOPE will have to operate.
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Hoffman's picture
Hoffman · 10 years ago
I should have added to my last comment, the focus of the film as mentioned before is not the torture and violence used by the BOPE members, the focus is the corruption in the system, the financing of the drugs by the rich people, the distorced reality lived by the rich people who from their luxury apartment dont see the disgrance that happens in the favelas so they can consume their everyday drugs. I should also add that, i lived in the US 5 years and i visited some of the places considered, slums, or ghettos, and i can say that no american who hasnt lived in Brazil can comment about the life in the brazilian slums. I think that in order to comment on the film, we all should first analize and understand the reality of the problem, and its derivates.
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Daniela's picture
Daniela · 10 years ago
I am sorry but if you are not Brazilian, you have no idea of what it is to live in Brazil and the life in the Brazilian slums. You have no idea of Brazil’s problems… That’s why it’s easy for you to criticize the movie. The movie does not say that torture is the solution for anything. Only if you already think that torture is a solution you will see that in the movie. It’s one of the best Brazilian’s movie of all times!
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