Window into another world.
Bus 174 (Ônibus 174) (2002): Score 7 out of 10: Sandro is the name of our protagonist in Bus 174. The film is the latest in a long line of documentaries dealing with the street children of Brazil. This documentary is the cream of the crop. Using the actual footage of a hostage crisis where Sandro takes a municipal bus hostage, the film creates great tension for the viewer. (Especially American viewers like myself who do not understand how this turns out.)Interspersed between scenes of the hostage crisis are talking head interviews (a mixed bag from fascinating like Sandro’s Aunt to annoying such as Sandro’s social worker). Most fascinating is the sheer volume of footage from Sandro’s street life before the crisis. The documentary filmmakers really dug up these treasures.
The documentary is not without flaws, however. The sheer volume of people who helped Sandro out in his young life undercuts the whole street kid premise of the film. The middle third drags as many have noted and there is a horribly misjudged scene in a jail where prisoners shout out their grievances. (Shot in the negative like the monster vision from a mid-nineties creature feature it is a clear fabrication as they denied the filmmakers access to the actual jail in question. It is unnecessary and kills the mood like that Trey Parker style cartoon in Bowling for Columbine).
Those overall minor flaws aside this is one fascinating documentary that truly takes you into another world. Despite cursing and brief male nudity, I would recommend this to every high school history class to see how the third world really lives.