Heidi Ewing & Rachel Grady's Detropia is a documentary that sets out to paint a portrait of the city of Detroit and the massive financial crisis facing the once thriving city. The film gives the viewer an in-depth look into the city from all angles - from the near countless out of work citizens to the city officials who struggle to keep Detroit alive, the filmmakers turn over every rock to encapsulate this dying city. Sure, Detropia is a somewhat of a talking heads documentary but the filmmakers are smart enough to stay removed from the picture as much as possible, giving the viewer a genuine portrait. While this film gives an intimate look into Detroit its greatest strength lies in its ability to capture the crisis of the U.S. manufacturing industry which reaches far beyond one cities failures. This is a haunting and fascinating documentary considering the subject matter alone but the filmmakers also elevate the material with some creative ideas. For instance, the film frequently interlaces the soundtrack with music from the 1950s, when Detroit was the fastest growing city of America, really giving Detropia an eery, resonant tone. They inter-cut old footage from a thriving Detroit, juxtaposing it with the current state of decay that certainly affected me. It isn't all gloom and dread as the filmmakers do provide glimmers of hope, capturing the strong-willed locals who won't go down without a fight. I found it particularly interesting to learn about the abundance of artists flocking to the city, a place where they can afford to live. Detropia is a skillfully told documentary that is a fascinating portrait of post-industrial landscape which is horrific, while simultaneously capturing the human spirits will to survive.
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