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The woes of Detroit are emblematic of the collapse of the U.S. manufacturing base. Is the Midwestern icon actually a canary in the American coal mine? DETROPIA is a cinematic tapestry of a city and its people who refuse to leave the building, even as the flames are rising. Written by
An opera singer calmly walks thru a large room inside a beautiful piece of architecture, a deserted and dilapidated building being devoured by nature. His beautiful song bounces off walls littered with graffiti. Broken windows, piles of rubble, lost jobs, a city in decay, nowhere to go but up, welcome to Detropia.
This movie briefly takes us around Detroit and into the hearts & minds of its sparse population. We see that the only thing surviving and thriving is the indomitable spirit of its citizens. Most documentaries take the approach of inundating us with information. Don't expect to talk to economic experts or politicians, we talk to the ordinary citizen. We watch them live with their difficult day to day existence as they watch the city decay around them, all the while trying to understand complex causes to a complex problem. Solutions seems so distant all they can hope for is a miracle.
Detropia shows the viewer a microcosm of the human condition through conversations with ordinary folks amidst a sea of ruins. The lovely cinematography continuously compares and contrasts beauty with ugliness, despair with hope. We see small flowers growing among the rubble, a bird rests upon a heap of garbage, people smiling and clinging to what little joy they have as they struggle to make ends meet.
This is a wonderful and calm film that will require the viewer to have patience and be in a sombre mood. Expect sadness tinged with brief glimpses of hope and the answer to the question of whether your cup is half full or empty. I'm left with the feeling that the spirit may be strong in Detroit's citizens, but the realities of the world are slowly crushing them. Let us hope the spirit conquers all.
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