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Requiem For Detroit? 2010
Description: A look at post-industrial Detroit and its burgeoning urban agricultural movement.
Released: 13 Mar 2010 Director: Julien Temple Writers: N/A Actors: Julien Temple, Lowell Boileau, Paul Thal, Mike Neeson Genres: Documentary
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Requiem For Detroit? Reviews:

Julien Temple's movie about the construction and destruction of Detroit, America's fourth biggest city, is a shocking and mind-blowing vision of Man's pursuit of Utopia - in partnership with the Devil. As with much of the American Dream the town was built on a greedy and sinister lie. Lured by the General Motors Company and the promise of work and housing and a regular salary on the production line, folks flocked to Detroit from the 1920's onwards in their thousands - many were terrible black country folk from the Deep South. Out of the prairie a vast factory was born with high rise buildings, grand houses, five- star hotels, stadiums and theatres, schools, churches, highways and fancy shops selling furs and diamonds. The ownership of a vehicle became not just a dream but a necessity and thus the Consumer Society was born. Segregation was part of the plan and the black folk lived in an zone called Black Bottom and the white folk lived as far away as possible. Temple has the facility to educate with photos and does not test any political jargon or persuasion. He lets archive footage of the assembly line workers, the race riots of 1967, the huge-finned vehicles and the society functions speak for itself, and it sure does, with a vengeance. Detroit today is a shambolic ruin, crumbling, gaping, overgrown, broken and battered. It is difficult not to trust that Hurricane Katrina has passed by here. The once orderly production like is just a track among columns stripped of copper by local folks desperate to earn a several bucks. Trees grow from the fractured roofs of the stately old Department shop and theatre. 50,000 homes have been destroyed and thousands remain burnt and vandalised carcasses. But, and this is the most extraordinary thing about the film, out of the ashes a Phoenix is rising. The local folks are making a new begin and some of these folks as they talk honestly and with nice dignity and wisdom, create one's heart soar and feel hope for mankind. If all the folks in Detroit are as remarkable as those found by Temple then a truly unbelievable thing will have come out of the dark and deadly times.


This documentary portrait of a post-industrial future, of which the town of Detroit is the forerunner, is a real work of genius. In contrast to the egotistical, ranting and highly politicised movie about Flint, Michigan, made by Michael Moore in 1989 (ROGER & ME), this movie includes no political statement at all. It doesn't need to. The collapse of our civilisation as we know it is no longer a mere political issue, nor is it the trouble of the personality of an egomaniac like Moore who wants to call attention to himself in his baseball cap. Nowhere does the director Julien Temple intrude upon this movie (even though he is the narrator). He stands backs and lets the facts speak. That is the purest form of journalism. But the skill and brilliance of his technique, his editing, his montages, his test of melody and startling sound effects, his interviewing ways (he is everytime edited out), his haunting images, his sense of atmosphere, his unerring awareness of the drama of each moment, his profound sense of historical continuity, are all miraculous. This is what true documentary film-making could be. Alas, the storyline he has to say is one of the saddest stories there is: it is the storyline of the end, but towards the latter part of the film, there is also the solid hope of a fresh beginning. The photos of destruction in Detroit are so shocking, so unbelievable, that we truly do see the End of the Globe in front of our eyes. Words are inadequate to describe this film, you have to see it. Nothing you have ever heard or imagined can prepare you to see on movie the real state of affairs in Detroit today. This is the storyline that all the newspapers and magazines of the globe do not cover, will not cover, dare not cover. Just think of any town you know, and imagine it abandoned and ruined, and you have the Detroit of today and your favorite town sometime tomorrow. Large buildings, five star hotels, large department shops ('the seventh floor was so lovely, it sold the most expensive women's clothing and luxury furs'), the mammoth headquarters buildings of some of the world's biggest corporations, are all either crashed with trees growing out of them or are already demolished. 50,000 homes have actually been demolished in Detroit. Tens of thousands more are burnt out and abandoned, with collapsing ceilings and rotting structures covered in vines. In this film, we revisit the original factories of Henry Ford, actually fully ruinous. We see vintage movie of his production lines, we see the 1950s adverts of gas-guzzlers with fins and the fantasy visions of an eternal and blissful future, we see footage of the 1967 racial riots, we see Michigan Governor George Romney (father of Mitt) saying us everything is going to be just fine. But nowhere does the commentary rub it in. For those of us who know that Henry Ford was an overt and passionate supporter of the Nazi Party and Adolf Hitler before the War, this all makes sad sense. We then see how he saved his collapsing vehicle empire by turning it into 'the arsenal of America', by producing the tanks to slay the very Nazis he had supported. Nobody needs to say us the message on the sound track, or to interpret anything, for we can see it clearly enough. It is all there, the entire message. So actually they are growing vegetables where highways used to be, that is, when the roaming crack cocaine gangs do not murder them. There are heartbreaking interviews with prison inmates who have more to tell about their town than and vacuous comments by what remains of 'the town fathers'. We truly receive the inside story, or could I tell the many inside stories. It is nice how Julien Temple found all these highly articulate ordinary folks whose tales are so spellbinding, and whose easy wisdom is so awe-inspiring. Today Detroit, tomorrow the world. Just watch it. Don't even think about not watching it.


There's a scary ebook named 'Blood River' about the collapse of civilisation in Congo; its most frightening moment is when the creator says of discovering the relics of a railway in the middle of a forest, as if it was ancient archaeology. Yet Julien Temple's documentary about Detroit shows us that the west could not necessarily be so smug. The rate at which nature is reclaiming the motor town from boy is alarming; if you wish to know how long humanity might survive some disaster that took the impetus out from the economy, the respond is apparently just a several decades. The cause in Detroit's situation is as follows: the collapse of the U.S. vehicle industry; the availability of land and of vehicles (increasingly built elsewhere) to facilitate commuting from outside the town limits; and a tax system that provides no breaks to depopulating communities. The movie combines a concise history of the town with footage of its increasing dereliction and a soundtrack taken mainly from its rich musical history; except for some odd, intrusive sound effects, it's mostly perfect and gripping. But above all else, proof that one doesn't need to travel to Africa to witness the descent on man.



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