More Detroit



Detropia Dystopia Indeed.

The beginning of the film Detropia evoked simalar feelings in me as I imagine it did the rest of the class. Melancholy, a feeling of hopelessness for the city. For some reason, it reminded me of the myth of Sysiphus- the city is much like a man who is doomed to carry a large boulder up a mountain for the rest of eternity. Detroit keeps slipping back in that dark place no matter what efforts are made to change it. Many residents were portrayed as apathetic and stuck in their ways. I remember watching the union meetings and seeing images of broken down car plants and thinking “damn. This city just keeps getting shit on!” I thought I knew that from the other films we’ve watched and my experiences with the book Detroit. But Detropia opened up a new perspective indeed.

That perspective was a very somber one. I think Vik said it best in class, the other two films focused on Tomorrow. This film focuses on Today.  “Urban Roots” and “We Are Not Ghosts” were incredibly optimistic. Both of those filmmaking teams saw the promise in Detroit. The things that make the city great despite it’s flaws, and focused on people who were trying to pull the city out of it’s black hole. The message of both of these films were there is hope for this city. They accomplished this through images and music. In “We Are Not Ghosts”, the voiceovers of the Wayne State students rapping “My city, 313”, and the images of children in school giving their opinions about civic issues promoted an overarching feeling of optimism. “Urban Roots” took up a simalar perspective. The filmmakers used very inspirational music filled with acoustic instuments and soft vocals. They matched this score up with images of children farming outside in the sunshine, eating vegatables and exclaiming they tasted like candy. It’s hard not to feel optimistic when you see things like this happening.

“Detropia” takes a different approach. The aspect that really stuck me was the use of light in this film-or lack thereof. “Urban Roots” was full of light-almost the whole thing was shot outdoors in gardens. However, “Detropia” is shot mostly at night or in dim bars and artificially lit community centers. There are shots from inside broken-down houses that seldom see a ray of light. In our society, darkness and depression go hand-and hand. It is hard to stay optimistic when even the sun doesn’t want to reach you. The music that accompanied this darkness was very somber, eerie even. It gave me chills, but not in a good way. While the other two films exalted the promise of the future of Detroit, Detropia focused on the city’s incredibly pessimistic present. I’m not sure what the message of this film is, just yet, but I hope it’s less somber than it looks.