Reviews of Recent Independent, Foreign, & Documentary Films in Theaters and DVD/Home Video
Directed by: José Padilha.
Produced by: Padilha & Marcos Prado.
Director of Photography: Marcelo Duarte & Cezar Moraes.
Edited by: Felipe Lacerda.
Music by: Sacha Amback & João Nabuco.
Released by: THINKFilm/HBO/Cinemax Documentary.
Language: Portuguese with English subtitles.
Country of Origin: Brazil. 122 min. Not Rated.
DVD Features: "The Making of Bus 174". Additional interviews.
During a sweeping aerial shot of Rio de Janeiro's curvaceous mountains and beaches,
young voices chime, ”I have no parents. I will never
know happiness.” So begins Jose Padilha's moving and
heart-gripping documentary of the incident that made 21-year-old Sandro do Nascimento, a street kid,
a household name on June 12, 2000 when he hijacks a
commuter bus in the ritzy south side of Rio de Janeiro and takes the passengers on board
hostage. By using footage taken on the chaotic scene by the myriad journalists that swarm around
the bus, and interviews from people in Sandro's life (which include his hostages), Padilha
effectively pieces together a picture of not only Sandro, but street kids everywhere. Invisible to most, these urchins, moleques,
are like the youth in the Brazilian feature Pixote or the Dickensian street boys of
Oliver Twist. The
only Sandro we actually see is the Sandro from the bus - angry and dangerous. The one
we get to know through others is starkly different - troubled, alone and at times,
heartbreaking in his simplicity and shyness. Sandro's social worker describes him coming
to her for help in getting a job. "Look at Me. Who will want me," he asks her. He's
illiterate, poor and desperate. (Two months later, he's news.) He is, after all, a boy who
from the start had all odds stacked against him. Sandro ran away from home at age 10
after witnessing his mother's murder, and began living on the street. Director
Padilha succeeds in making socioeconomic statements without hammering us over the
head with them or resorting to sentimentality. The images speak loudly and clearly while
keeping us completely enthralled, and at times, at the edge of our seats. Yetta Gottesman, actor, member of
LAByrinth Theater Company and The Actors Studio in New York City
Yetta Gottesman, actor, member of LAByrinth Theater Company and The Actors Studio in New York City
DVD Extras: Director José Padilha’s primary goal was to show how Sandro, the bus hijacker, was
created by the society in which he was raised. He explains the techniques he employed, such as
carefully interspersing footage of juvenile delinquents depicting how they are treated in
Brazil. Padilha also faced the challenge of interviewing hostages who had been questioned so
often they gave rote answers to his first round of questions. His ingenious solution to this
problem is but one example of the intelligence and cleverness he displays, and this relatively
short extra is worth watching just for that. But the lengthy additional interviews are,
unfortunately, unnecessary elaborations on the themes already fleshed out in the film itself.