Among the emergent themes in the movie are urban crime, social network, education, urban slums, the lack of economic and social mobility, and the global city. These themes are presented through the lives of Rocket and Jose ‘Lil Ze’ who are in opposite paths in their lives’ but are both shackled to the city of their childhood. The torn down buildings and the dirty streets serve as the backdrop of the film’s storyline and the object of Rocket’s gritting photographs.
In the Broken Window Principle, the idea is that one broken window will lead to many broken windows. In an experiment, the pristine condition of windows deters the commission of voluntarily shattering them. James Wilson and George Kelling write that the police play an important role in reclaiming their own authorities in streets that have been overrun by gang-related violence. This is further strengthened when the people see them as a partner in driving out those who commit organized crimes to return their communities to a peaceful state. “The process we call urban decay has occurred for centuries in every city... Earlier crime waves had a kind of built-in self-correcting mechanism: the determination of a neighborhood or community to reassert control over its turf” (4). Sadly, this was not shown in the film as corruption was a rampant attribute of the local police force.
Zukin’s Whose Culture, Whose City? (75) with its setting in New York, reveals that public space is continually being privatized by corporate entitles, resulting in a cultural war within its streets. In this regard, it is equally important to look at the cultural relevance of urban decay with respect to education. It not only functions to develop the individual but the nation at large. For developing nations, education has a pivotal developmental role. In this movie, education in the developing Rio de Janeiro, is quite accessible but an extensive portion of the populace remained ignorant.