Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Written by: Mark Boal
Release Date: August 4th 2017
Last week on July 26th I sat in a theater waiting for the advance screening of the film Detroit. At the time I was unaware it was the 50th anniversary of the Algiers Motel Incident. It may be 50 years later, but a film like this is still so incredibly relevant. We still live in a world where a few aggressive and racially motivated cops are allowed to cause destruction with little to no consequences. We live in a world where the President of the United States gave these cops his support. This is the world we live in and as difficult it was to watch this film, everyone needs to be having serious discussing about the issues as present in this film (and in real life).
Detroit is a dramatization of the very real events surrounding the 12th Street Riot and the incident at the Algiers Motel. On July 25th – 26th members of the Detroit Police Department, Illinois Nations Guard, Michigan State Police, and a private security firm detained, threatened, beat and humiliated the occupants of the motel resulting in the death of three African American teens. Some of the events of that night have never been fully explained and therefore had to be pieced together and filled in by the film’s writers.
The fact that my audience left feeling upset and frustrated just highlighted the very real things going on in this country today. The same people causing these incidents are still not facing any consequences. Fifty years later and African American teenagers are still dying.
From the very beginning of this film, there is an overwhelming since of dread. The opening scenes following the beginning hours of the riot and the constant escalation till we find ourselves with trigger happy officers and extremely terrified teenagers hiding in a motel room. I found myself pushing back into my seat trying to retreat from the uncomfortable images on the screen. I think that was the point, however, to make everyone take notice. To be revolted on the atrocities occurring on screen.
In the film it was made clear these events were allowed to continue because people stood by even though they knew it was wrong, turned a blind eye because they didn’t want to be involved, or did too little too late.
Kathryn Bigelow made a movie to make people sit up and pay attention. To make people realize that you can’t stand by and allow children, teenagers, men and women die by the hands of the wrong.
Go see this film. It will be uncomfortable to watch but that’s the entire point. We as a country need to do better.
I will also understand, if you decide not to go see this film. Turning on the evening news will be the same thing.