Detropia is a powerful documentary that foreshadows recent events looking at the collapse of the manufacturing base and reminds us that there may be more cities to come.
Detroit’s story has encapsulated the iconic narrative of America over the last century – the Great Migration of African Americans escaping Jim Crow; the rise of manufacturing and the middle class; the love affair with automobiles; the flowering of the American dream; and now… the collapse of the economy and the fading American mythos. With its vivid, painterly palette and haunting score, “Detropia” sculpts a dreamlike collage of a grand city teetering on the brink of dissolution. These soulful pragmatists and stalwart philosophers strive to make ends meet and make sense of it all, refusing to abandon hope or resistance. Their grit and pluck embody the spirit of the Motor City as it struggles to survive post-industrial America and begins to envision a radically different future.
A truly uniquely movie documentary that captures the crumbling and fall of an empire as it happens. Managing a stark beauty to the proceedings alongside the some downright scary and depressing visuals, directors Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady bring a richly rewarding experience to the surface and force a debate that needs to happen, not only for Detroit but many other cities across the United States to survive as well. On top of that, the film successfully revels in the cities glorious past but gives equal weight to the fact that the people who are desperate for the return of the glory days may not get what they want. They paint a picture of a crumbling metropolis teetering on the brink of a crucial crossroads that would easily look like the burnt out rubble of a war torn city. It would be great set design if it weren’t actually a sad reality as the city desperately needs to look to the future, recognizing their place in the global economy and not clinging to the past of a one industry town. It is a scary example of how a consumer based national economy cannot survive and how invention and creativity are necessary to survive.
The best visual example of how the economy needs to take a step back before it can move forward again that may have been ever put on the screen and is must viewing, because the theme of reinvention that the filmmakers want to push does come across it just needs to find enough people to listen so we learn from our mistakes and examples like the Motor City doesn’t happen again.
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