It began on 12th street in Detroit, Michigan. In the early morning hours of Sunday, July 23, 1967, in an unlicensed after hours spot called the Blind Pig, a group of African Americans were celebrating the return of two local GIs from the Vietnam War. It wasn’t long before local police showed up, raided the establishment and proceeded to arrest everyone.
While the police were waiting for backup and arranging for transportation, a group of onlookers gathered outside. The tension was thick between the police and the bar patrons and also with the growing crowd. As a result of racial tension and police confrontations, the streets erupted into protest, looting, rioting, and then violence. Known as the 12th Street riot, the destruction lasted for five days and was so deadly that the national guard and other military were called in. The chaos finally ended with 1,189 injured and 43 dead.
Kathryn Bigelow, who won Best Director for 2008’s The Hurt Locker, uses her immersive directing style to tell the story of this tragic event. The film is simply called Detroit and it stars John Boyega, John Krasinski, and Anthony Mackie. The first trailer was released today and it is dramatic and explosive. The trailer throws us right in the middle of the destruction with burning buildings, snipers, and rioters. We get a vivid sense of ordinary lives being turned upside down by the madness and confusion. Through a flurry of violent and emotional images, Bigelow makes us feel like we are watching a documentary with terrifying events unfolding.
With all of the recent blockbuster trailers filled with aliens, superheroes, and special effects, this trailer was a breath of fresh air. It’s amazing to see Kathryn Bigelow take on such an important story in American history. Based on the power of the trailer, she may be on her way to another Oscar nomination.
Detroit opens August 4 of this year.