Bus 474 – This is one of the best documentaries I have ever seen, about an event most Americans have probably never even heard of.
The movie is about a June 2000 bus hijacking in Rio de Janeiro that was carried live on television. (And no, I won’t spoil it here by telling you how it ended.)
What’s excellent about the movie is that it does more than just explain what happened on that bus and how things went awry, with reflections and commentaries from many of the people involved in the incident, both people in the bus and cops and reporters outside.
No, the movie takes the important step of looking back at the horrid life of the hijacker, Sandro di Nascimento, which included seeing his mother murdered while he was a child and later living on the streets.
He also spent time in prison.
By taking this approach the director not only puts the way the police handled the hijacking up for public scrutiny but he also makes people think about how we treat the lower class.
Footage shot in the prisons horrifies the viewer while also making one think and reflect.
It’s been said – most recently about Katrina – that you can judge the quality of a society based on how it treats its poor and helpless.
In both cases society was found wanting.
I give it a 9.5.
Note: I suggest not only watching the movie but also checking out the DVD extras for a fascinating, inspiring interview with the director about his reasons for making the movie and how he went about it.