Posted: Friday, August 4, 2017 – 1:51 PM
Kathryn Bigelow, one of America’s premier directors, has given us a movie that will reverberate within our consciousness for a long time—and, that’s a good thing. Detroit recreates the horrific events of civil unrest there during the summer of 1967. Hopefully, she has awakened us to the destruction and loss of lives within a simmering city where forgotten and neglected people live. I say, “hopefully” because current events of the past number of years have shown us that it can happen again because, heaven forbid, the people of neglect and unforgiving treatment can, and probably will riot again.
Detroit is an alarming film meant to wake up the masses to the misguided hate and racism exhibited by various classes of our American guilt. And, it does awaken us with forceful energy and relentless brow beating.
It is 1967. Our country is involved in an unpopular war claiming the lives of many young men. There is a large disparate equity in Detroit, not unlike in many other teeming metropolitan cities. Millions of African-Americans have migrated from the south to cities like Detroit hoping to better their lives and the lives of their families. The opportunities are there, but the living conditions and ghetto-like existence are not what they had expected. The melting pot begins to boil over, their unrest turns into riots, and the city is turned into an armed camp. As the violence escalates, police and the national guard are called in to quell the rioting.
A few of the non-violent take refuge in the black-operated Algiers Hotel. As a joke, one of them shoots a starter pistol. Thinking they are under siege, the cops and national guard fire back and eventually enter the hotel and forcibly detain those who took refuge. Taking charge is a racist cop, Krauss (Will Poultor) who is seen at the outset of the riot killing a young black man in the back for stealing two bags of groceries. He is your stereotypical racist who forcibly detains those who sought refuge and methodically and sadistically tries to find the gun initially fired from the hotel.
The ending is a bit long and belabors the film which has already made its point. However, Bigelow the director of one of my favorite films,, has given us a picture that must be seen if only to remember and keep remembering until we raise our voices and do something to pinpoint the inequalities and cavernous divide between cultures – all cultures, in these United States of America. God willing, it will come to pass.
3-1/2 Bagels out of 4
Jerry Cutler, the Courier’s film critic is rabbi at Creative Arts Temple