Last week, I was invited to the ATL screening of the much anticipated film “Detroit.” I was excited to see it, because any film that highlights Black history is a film I’m at least interested in seeing.
“Detroit” is based on the civil unrest that surfaced as a result of longstanding police misconduct, particularly, the shut down of a popular underground night club known as the Blind Pig. The takedown was followed by mass arrests, to include Black soldiers who had served in the Vietnam War.
Eventually, the National Guard was sent in. When everything was all said and done, the result was 43 dead, 1,189 injured, over 7,200 arrests. More than 2,000 buildings destroyed.
This film focuses on the death of four young Black men who died at the hands of corrupt police officers in the popular Algiers Hotel. What I loved about “Detroit” is that Kathryn Bigelow (director), and Mark Boal (screenwriter) really focused on the trauma that Black people experienced and continue to experience at the hands of police. Coincidentally, that’s also the very thing I hated about the movie.
About 5 months ago (probably more), I stopped watching “viral” videos of Black people being murdered by the police. I think it was around the time of Philando Castile’s untimely death. It wasn’t really a conscious decision, it was more of a natural coping mechanism my body had developed. It was either fight or flight-my body chose flight. I became physically unwell when I came across these videos online. When people would share the videos, I’d anxiously keep scrolling. I didn’t want to see anymore Black death. Maybe I was suffering from PTSD?
One of the main characters, played by Algee Smith, eventually began to suffer from PTSD later on in the movie. That fateful night in the Algiers Hotel had changed him forever.
The trauma that the audience members will be exposed to in this film, I can unabashedly say that I was not prepared for. We watched beatings, torture, death happen on the screen, for what seemed like hours. We sat there, tense, unable to move, each of us attempting to process what we were seeing in our own very private way-I chose to cuss under my breath, and look away at certain parts.
Without giving too much of the movie away, while I can still say that I enjoyed the film, I am unsure whether or not all of the gut wrenching visuals were completely necessary to drive the plot, or if they were absolutely un-freaking necessary.
What I can say is that you will leave the film a tad more enlightened (I personally had never heard this story), but you will also leave feeling drained and very very very angry. All in all, I think the movie is worth seeing. When you head to theaters on August 5th, comment below with your thoughts!