Worth A Look: 47.62%
Pretty Bad: 0%
Total Crap: 4.76%
4 reviews, 18 user ratings
by Chris Parry
Take one bus, ten passengers, a drug-addicted street kid with a gun and a couple of hundred of Rio's finest, and what have you got? A situation, that's what. Bus 174 documents the real-life events of summer 2000 when a robbery on a Brazilian bus went horribly wrong, and the police sent in to end the situation instead turned it into a nightmare of tragic proportions.Bus 174 may not change your life. In fact, it may not have any long lasting impact on you at all other than to have you say 'oh, that's terrible,' but it is most assuredly a great piece of documentary filmmaking that will surprise, shock and amaze.Sandro was always a problem child, which probably isn't surprising being as he saw his mother stabbed to death at the age of 5. A series of temporary homes, spells with street gangs, and eventually a nasty addiction to drug sniffing made sure that Sandro would never amount to anything in life, at least not in Brazil, but it was a fateful decision to board a bus a few years ago that put an end to Sandro in a way that couldn't have been predicted.
"'To protect and serve'... and blow your face off with a shotgun."
When the police arrived, the scene was tense but not too tense. A gunman was on a bus holding ten people hostage, waving a gun about and hiding under a towel over his head. Things like this apparently happen fairly often in Rio, to the point where one of the hostages admits to having told someone on her cellphone, "tell the boss I'll be late. I'm being held up."
But there are many pieces to the puzzle of Bus 174. There's the drugs that the gunman has clearly been getting into. There's the family history of the gunman where nobody has ever really stuck their neck out for the kid, instead turning him out and letting him live on the streets. There's the ineptitude of the police force, who don't have enough people to keep back the crowd, and somehow didn't bring any walkie talkies. And there's the press, slowly getting closer and closer to the bus in the bid to be 'on the spot', while the police make no effort to move them.
The gunman, already scared out of his wits and sure that he'll be killed by the police, just as his streetkid buddies were ina rcent massacre, isn't about to surrended. The cops, with high-ranking politicians on the cellphone barking orders at them, aren't giving in to any demands. And the crowd just gets bigger and the hostages get more and more freaked out.
I's going to be a long night.
Bus 174 follows this night, interspersing footage of the event with interviews and background information that paints Brazil's law enforcement bodies as clueless public servants just trying to get by on below minimum wage, as well as casting a long light across Brazil's ongoing problems with the burgeoning streetkid population. Bus 174 isn't just a news report or an investigation of a bad scene - it's much more than that. This is a film that shows all sides of the equation - police, gunman and hostages - stuck in a web that is built by those in high society and permitted by those in the middle and lower classes.
The cops are quite willing to end this situation quickly using one of the many snipers around the bus, but politicians fear such a thing making them look bad on the evening news. The gunman wants the crowd of people pushed back, but the cops don't have the manpower. The Captain is forced to coordinate his troops with hand signals since there are no radios to use. The hostages try to argue their way out of trouble, with some even gaining their release through diplomacy and not violence.
But in the end, things always turn to shit. Especially when the police are involved.
A fascinating documentary that shows you the side of Rio you don't see during Carnival, Bus 174 very nearly puts you in the middle of a hostage situation for the first time. Some of the footage is startling, some of it comedic, but there can be no doubt that you will not see the end coming at all.When you see Bus 174 and take in all that went on, I challenge you to ask yourself a simple question... could it happen here?
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originally posted: 09/29/03 11:21:21
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