A dramatic glimpse of Rio's vibrant street culture, in miniature.

“I wanted to look my best for Rio,” wrote the famous Italian aviator Francesco de Pinedo in his travelogues, “There she lay, fragrant and colorful, voluptuously reclining beside the sea.” Le Corbusier echoed similar gendered reflections of the city when he likened Rio de Janiero’s “dancing” landscape of lush islands and sculpted peaks to the bodies of women. What prompted these “poetic” formulations was the bird’s eye spectacle newly afforded by the airplane, which offered privileged encounters with the city inaccessible to all but the brave and daring. Even with the introduction and integration of Google Maps into contemporary culture, these same encounters remain exclusive to experience of flight, in the sense that the airplane is the only medium in which one may truly inhabit the oblique.

Most of us cannot pilot our own planes over Rio and will, thus, miss out on the ride. This short film, however, does a great job of approximating (part of) the experience. Entitled “The City of Samba”, the film uses tilt-shift photography to bring Rio to life, framing the city’s peculiar geography as a vast kinetic mix of miniature buildings, toy-like vehicles, and ant-sized humans. The first half of the video ogles over Rio’s rich hybrid landforms of fertile forests and steel infrastructure, observing the frenetic traffic flows, tide cycles, and pedestrian exchanges which animate the city by day, while the second half finds Rio in the throes of Carnaval, with an endless stream of eclectic floats and animatronic wildlife parading down avenues. Watching the city mobilize for the event is especially fascinating, an incredible display of urban logistics which will surely be dwarfed by the spectacle of the 2014 World Cup.

The City of Samba from Jarbas Agnelli on Vimeo.

This post originally appeared on Architizer, an Atlantic partner site.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. photo: Police line up outside the White House in Washington, D.C. as protests against the killing of George Floyd continue.
    Perspective

    America’s Cities Were Designed to Oppress

    Architects and planners have an obligation to protect health, safety and welfare through the spaces we design. As the George Floyd protests reveal, we’ve failed.

  2. A photo of a police officer in El Paso, Texas.
    Equity

    What New Research Says About Race and Police Shootings

    Two new studies have revived the long-running debate over how police respond to white criminal suspects versus African Americans.

  3. Equity

    What Happened to Crime in Camden?

    Often ranked as one of the deadliest cities in America, Camden, New Jersey, ended 2017 with its lowest homicide rate since the 1980s.

  4. Demonstrators march on I-94 while participating in a protest against police brutality and the death of George Floyd on May 31
    Transportation

    The Racial Injustice of American Highways

    Demonstrations over the death of George Floyd in the Twin Cities occupied a major artery that tore apart a thriving African-American neighborhood.

  5. Four New York City police officers arresting a man.
    Equity

    The Price of Defunding the Police

    A new report fleshes out the controversial demand to cut police department budgets and reallocate those funds into healthcare, housing, jobs, and schools. Will that make communities of color safer?

×