If you're unfamiliar with the 1967 Detroit riot, one of the most violent racially-charged civil disturbances ever in U.S. history, it will behoove you to do some Google fact checking before you watch the trailer for director Kathryn Bigelow's new film DETROIT. In just under 2 1/2 minutes, the clip manages to skew the racial landscape of a city largely occupied by black people, center a young black man (John Boyega) as a critical law enforcement figure, and avoid significant context.
Even the log line is bare: DETROIT tells the gripping story of one of the darkest moments during the civil unrest that rocked Detroit in the summer of '67.
I can only assume one of two things: 1) there is a lack of research, connection or regard of the subject the filmmaker is aiming to highlight or even interrogate, or 2) this is a poorly edited trailer. And I really hope it's the latter. Because you can't just say you're doing a film about an important event in American history (one which still holds relevance today) and not make the trailer look, well, important or urgent. Serious question, what civil rights narrative is being told here in which the victims are black men and white women who are pursued by law enforcement led by a young black man at the height of the Civil Rights Movement in a city that at the time had a major black population? And how confident can you be in your historical portrayal of a major U.S. city, skewing facts, to simply call it said city's own name, DETROIT? That's high praise.
But again, this could be just a poor edit of the trailer, and we've seen lots of those before. I've watched it three times now and it hasn't gotten clearer. It's way too early (and counterproductive) to determine the actual quality of the film (it's not in theaters until August 4), so we'll have to wait and actually watch it before releasing a verdict. Though, that hasn't stopped other folks from declaring DETROIT an Oscar contender. Why? Because its winning combination of being a drama, directed by Bigelow, and dealing with race relations just goes to show how eager pundits are to maintain the status quo.
Watch the trailer: