I’ve always found it strange that I’ve never loved Kathryn Bigelow’s work. On paper, Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty should be right up my street, but they leave me feeling cold. However, Bigelow’s work do illicit questions and deep thought – Detroit is no different.
Detroit is about Algiers Motel incident that happened during the 1967 riots. The incident saw police interrogate a group of black youths, and left three of those teenagers dead. You should all read John Hersey’s book on the whole ordeal.
The film’s two-and-a-half-hours is some of the most uncomfortable, tense and horrific viewing I have ever experienced. Although the acting on display is fantastic (shout out to John Boyega, once again showing he’s the real deal), the story it tries to tell is admirable and the direction is unflinching, this is simply not an enjoyable film. That is Detroit’s gift and it’s curse.
It’s curse because, like 12 Years a Slave and A Colour Purple before it, I will never watch this film again. It simply upsets me too much. The truth in the film disgusts me.
It’s a gift because it puts the recent discussions about race in America into historical perspective. Racial tension is nothing new, and we were all naive to think Obama could improve the matter to the point where klansmen and Nazi’s wouldn’t dream of marching in American streets – let alone doing so without masks.
The Detroit riots were 50 years ago. The Brixton riots were 36 years ago (yes, we Brits have our share of race problems). The LA riots were 25 years ago. The murder of Stephen Lawrence was 24 years ago. It’s been five year since the Tottenham riots. And just weeks ago, just to remind you again, Nazi’s and white nationalists marched in an American city.
The underlying issues of racial animosity shown in Detroit is still present in 2017, both in the UK and the US, and that is hard to take.