Directed by Kathryn Bigelow
On general release from 25th August 2017
Reviewed by Colin Serjent
While watching this film, set during the race riots in Detroit in 1967, you have the realisation that little has changed in the USA in the intervening fifty years. If a similar story was set in an American city in 2017 you would not bat an eyelid.
‘Detroit’ is a harrowing watch, including torture and a horrific “death game” during an almost one hour portion of the movie when a squad of police and the National Guard laid siege to the Motel Algiers after a so-called sniper had fired at them. In fact it was the sound of a starter pistol.
Director Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker) has created a multi-layered production, not just concentrating on the brutality of the police towards black people.
It encompasses musical aspects, for instance, how the riots destroyed the career of a very promising soul singer, courtroom drama – you almost know for certain what the verdict will be regarding the conduct of the police – and archive footage of the neo-anarchy in the city.
Incidentally the film opens in an unusual manner with a series of animations of Jacob Lawrence’s illuminating paintings of the glibly called “great migration” from the rural south – the epitome of the slave plantations – to the urban areas of the north and midwest.
Some have commented why the most bloodthirsty of the police at the motel Krauss (Wil Poulter) is such a psychopath. What led to him being so?
The simple answer is that he is overtly racist. As one critic stated ‘police violence against black Americans was, and remains, all too frequent…”