While no underlining meta-narrative or explanation has been presented to account for the state of poverty in these regions, through the juxtaposition and comparison of these perspectives on urban poverty, shanty towns, and social violence, a pragmatic understanding of the issues affecting all societies and cultures is developed, ultimately promoting an empathetic understanding of the state of these marginalized poor.
The film Bus 174 opens with an overhead shot of the Rio de Janeiro city landscape while voices from inhabitants leaving on the city streets are heard. The effect is very moving as the viewer begins to comprehend the expansive nature of the city and get a feel for the economic depravity facing many residents. The narrative voices explain how they are forced to beg for food, and attest to the difficulties of seeking shelter. They explicitly state that these issues are primary factors in their growing up enraged at the social order. The film consistently returns to the overhead shots of the city leading the viewer to consider the nature of the city landscape and the on-goings that are central to the film.
The film is structured around a hostage situation perpetrated by a man named Sandro. The film reveals that it was the rampant crime in the city that led to Sandro’s mother being murdered when he was 6 years old, and ultimately leading to Sandro becoming a part of a street gang. The viewer becomes introduced to the depravity of Rio de Janeiro street life where large amounts of homeless children fend for their daily existence. In a sense, these inhabitants are presented almost like a scavenger or animal-like race that have been cast off from mainstream society.