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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Striking Documentary Contrasts A Great City Of Yore With The Decaying Metropolis of Today
The new documentary "Detropia" by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (Jesus Camp) is, at once, an homage to a great city and its eulogy. In 1930, Detroit was considered the fastest growing city in the world. Today, it is shrinking at an alarming rate having lost a quarter of its population in the last decade alone. In this striking film, a diverse cross section of Detroit...
Published on December 31, 2012 by K. Harris

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51 of 55 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating... but also misleading.
I was born in Detroit, and spent the first 33 years of my life living there, and even after moving out, I'm still just two miles away. I spent most of my adult life working there. I just watched Detropia, and my first reaction was that visually it gives an excellent picture of what much of Detroit has become. Where is falls short is in the history- it's as if the past 40...
Published 20 months ago by Michael J. Edelman


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51 of 55 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating... but also misleading., May 13, 2013
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This review is from: Detropia (DVD)
I was born in Detroit, and spent the first 33 years of my life living there, and even after moving out, I'm still just two miles away. I spent most of my adult life working there. I just watched Detropia, and my first reaction was that visually it gives an excellent picture of what much of Detroit has become. Where is falls short is in the history- it's as if the past 40 years of political mismanagement and outright theft never took place. The filmmakers present a narrative in which big companies outsourced all the jobs, and the rich got together and decided to destroy the middle class and oppress the poor. But that's nonsense. Detroit's problems aren't easily explained in terms of bankrupt Marxist ideology.

We had several mayors who chased working people out of the city and plundered the public treasury. But we also had one- Dennis Archer- who had the city on a path to renewal before he was replaced by his criminally corrupt successor. Detroit's property taxes are the highest of the 50 largest cities in America, and not by a small amount. They're over 20% higher than Philadelphia, the number two on the list. We had governors who kept granting al sorts of tax breaks and special privileges to the auto industry while driving other businesses out of the state with higher taxes. The city of Detroit condemned 4,200 middle class homes and gave the land to GM, who built the Poletown plant- now closed. The residents of Poletown left the city.

My second issue with the film is that it presents only a narrow view of the city today. Yes, it's a financial nightmare, heading for bankruptcy, and a dangerous place to live. But there are also emerging centers of redevelopment at the grass roots level. There are galleries, small technology businesses, co-ops, and bakeries. Young people are still homesteading and taking advantage of the low cost of buying a home there. It may not be enough to turn the city around, but it shows that there are still people who could help to build Detroit if given the right incentives.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Striking Documentary Contrasts A Great City Of Yore With The Decaying Metropolis of Today, December 31, 2012
This review is from: Detropia (DVD)
The new documentary "Detropia" by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (Jesus Camp) is, at once, an homage to a great city and its eulogy. In 1930, Detroit was considered the fastest growing city in the world. Today, it is shrinking at an alarming rate having lost a quarter of its population in the last decade alone. In this striking film, a diverse cross section of Detroit citizens muse about days gone by as they struggle with the economic reality of their city in crisis. Shot in almost a post-apocalyptic splendor, "Detropia" has an almost haunting quality that is hard to describe. Its cameras take in the landscape of an abandoned metropolis and fill this canvas with snippets of real life stories. In many ways, these are tales of survival complete with happy memories and a nostalgia for the way things were. While it doesn't offer many solutions to the current conditions (nor could it really), it paints a pretty vivid picture of the unpleasantness associated with contemporary economic trends.

While on the surface, there is much bleakness in "Detropia" due to the subject matter, it still has a vitality and hope that is somewhat unexpected. This comes from the documentary participants who share some of their lives with the viewer. They remember how great Detroit was, and they refuse to abandon her in times of hardship. Among those featured in the film, there is a bar owner, a group of local artists, a video blogger, a gang of scappers, and an opera enthusiast. But we also spend time, as you might expect, with those in industry. One particularly disturbing sequence shows a local auto union dealing with proposed pay cuts. As they rail with indignation, their refusal to acquiesce will ultimately lead to the demise of one more Detroit workforce. In these moments, it is impossible not to see the implications for all of us (no matter what city or industry) if things stay on course.

"Detropia" may not shed new light on a difficult subject, but it does allow a voice for those that don't often speak for themselves. In this aspect, the film is at its strongest. It also has a dreamlike beauty in the way that it is filmed and constructed. The answers that it seeks don't always seem fully satisfying, but the film stands as a cautionary tale of how (and why) things went so wrong. I don't know that I learned anything new, but it does give you a chance to reflect once again on the dissolution of the American dream. Not exactly entertaining, this is still an easy recommendation to lovers of documentary filmmaking. KGHarris, 12/12.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing yet intriguing, June 22, 2013
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This review is from: Detropia (Amazon Instant Video)
I was born in Detroit, and lived in the area until 10 years when both my husband and my companies closed and we had to move out of state. I was so sad to watch this film. Detroit has a great history and I am old enough to remember when it was strong and vibrant and also have seen its fall. Its current state is the result of years of mismanagement, racism and nearsightedness that drove out the middle class and left its current shell. What the film maker shows is real, but what she doesn't show is why it is so. The collapse of the auto industry definitely had an impact but frankly even if that didn't happen Detroit would be in the same position. This movie is bleak but I think it missed its mark. Detroit is not an innocent victim. It has allowed itself to be the victim and has done nothing to help itself for over 40 years. That does not come through in the film.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant documentary about Detroit AND America and what both need to do to recover the economy!, December 18, 2012
This review is from: Detropia (DVD)
This is one of the better documentary films I've watched in some time, created from the perspective of the people of Detroit and recommended for anyone living anywhere in America. Sure, there are plenty of problems in the city which was once the fastest-growing area of the world, but some of the folks have SOLUTIONS to offer, too. This is a film Spike Lee or Michael Moore wished they had made! I recommend "Detropia" to all adult audiences.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars metropolis revisited, January 20, 2013
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This review is from: Detropia (Amazon Instant Video)
"detropia" stands as a counterpoint to the fritz lang classic "metropolis." whereas "metropolis" looks to a utopian future in the industrial age, "detropia" shows us what actually came to pass. i love it's gritty, first person accounting of an empire in decline from the perspective of people living at ground zero.

the photography is amazing. the imagery of individuals going about their lives on the street is well filmed. it feels real, yet casual. there's one image that still resonates with me. it's the image of a silhouetted figure taking a drink from a bottle in an apartment on a hot night. the window is open, curtains drawn which provides a brief glimpse into the life of the other. one is left wondering how that person feels about the mayor's plans to consolidate communities to turn large swaths of abandoned space into recovered green space to be used for small scale farming.

the role of art in revitalizing communities and helping to give people a collective sense of identity is explored briefly. art is used as medium to bridge the cultures of young whites moving into the community with the historically black, lower class residents. and it is through the art interventions and the faith in renewal of the older residents of detroit that one is left with a sense that detroit will reinvent itself to rise anew like the phoenix.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Insightful overview of Detroit's current situation, February 23, 2013
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This review is from: Detropia (Amazon Instant Video)
I liked the documentary, especially the stories of artists and others who are attempting to revitalize Detroit. The film gives reasons for the decline, but is short on answers, other than anecdoctal stories of individuals trying to make a difference. This film is a good companion to the book "Detroit City is the Place to Be" which goes into more detail and is more insightful on Detroit's plight. Having grown up in the suburbs of Detroit, but now gone for 36 years, some of the currrent issues existed even when I was a child, e.g. Detroit as a place to visit, but not to live, clearly marked racial boundaries, city government corruption, economic overdependence on the Big 3. I find it hard to imagine Detroit ever being what it once was in the 1920's and 30's as the place to go for jobs and to escape the Jim Crow south, but I hope I am wrong.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Barely scratches the surface, January 23, 2013
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Amazon Customer (Youngstown, OH United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Detropia (DVD)
While beautifully shot and composed, Detroitopia taught those of us who live in decaying post-industrial wastelands nothing we don't already know. I my case it's Youngstown, Ohio and most of the time all this film did was trigger bad memories of things I saw along the way. I don't know if there's a PTSD for watching a city get sucked into the nothingness, but I felt something like that watching this. You've got the toothless unions on display, crumbling architecture, people that remember the good ol' days and think they'll be back and the literal parade of hipsters moving in to feast on the bones of a once great city. There's so few people actually in the film that there's no real way of getting to the bottom of what the city really faces going forward.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A dreamy mess, July 9, 2013
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This review is from: Detropia (DVD)
This could have been a fascinating look at the downfall of Detroit. Instead, it rambles and drifts into dreamworlds as the makers lose focus and try for poetry when prose is what they should be offering. It concentrates on a few Detroit characters who bemoan the loss of their city to budget woes, job loss and general malaise. I wanted to see more historical context, with before and after pictures and footage. It seems they either rushed this out without the necessary research, or they lacked the budget to make it more in-depth. As it stands, it's kind of a lost opportunity.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Movie, February 26, 2013
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This review is from: Detropia (DVD)
I ordered this as soon as it became available and loved it. It shoes some of the struggles that the city is going through. I do wish they would have dug a little deeper, towards the end of the movie right when they were getting into the real meat of the issues it ended...I wish they would have pressed a little harder there. It is well worth buying and watching, especially if you're from the Metro-Detroit area.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Detropia, the documentary, April 5, 2013
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This review is from: Detropia (Amazon Instant Video)
It is a heartfelt documentary about the downfall and tribulations of Detroit, through the eyes of various people, including a
businessman who owns a club, union people and a young woman. It's sad and heartbreaking, and yet the tenacity of Detroiters shows through.. It shows what can happen when jobs disappear, and this tale is true for many cities and towns around America.

I recommend it for anyone who is trying to understand Detroit, and anyone who would like to see the city come back to it's glory days. My only complaint is that the sound quality could have been better, and the lighting on the night scenes could have been better.
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Detropia
Detropia by Heidi Ewing (DVD - 2013)
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