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“Detroit” by Kathryn Bigelow Annotated Bibliography

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Updated: Sep 7th, 2022

“Detroit” was released on July 25th, 2017, and is one of the prime examples of films that portray historical events. The movie tells the real story of the riot in the city of Detroit in the summer of 1967 during 144 minutes when the illegal arrest of club visitors provoked protests throughout the city. “Detroit” accurately and vividly describes the events of those days and shows the racism and cruelty of the police and justice of those times.

Riots burst in Detroit as a response to the arrest of nightclub visitors in a black neighborhood, and the government introduced the National Guard (“Detroit” 2017). One of the guests of Algeria Hotel, where musicians Larry Reid and his friend Fred Temple are staying, fires a starting pistol, and police officer Philip Kraus, who arrives at a noise, shoots him. Further, Kraus finds a group of black men, including Reid and Temple, and two white women, which makes him angry, so the police try to find a reason for their arrest.

A guard, Melvin Dismukes, wants to help the captured people, but cannot protect them from the police (“Detroit” 2017). An officer accidentally kills one man because he misunderstands Kraus’s order to threaten him. The police try to leave, but Temple is too frightened to be silent, and Kraus kills him (“Detroit” 2017). A few years later, the police officers are charged, but get acquitted. Larry Reed stops his musical career as he cannot recover from that traumatic situation, and Dismukes leaves the city after receiving threats. Thus, this story describes the racial injustice of the police at that time.

The movie plausibly describes the figures of events in the hotel and riots. Dismukes notes that everything shown in the film is 99.5% true (Lang 2017). However, there are some minor changes in this movie that generally do not affect the historical accuracy. For example, the names of the lawyer, Norman Lippit, the main police officer, David Sanek, and some other characters have been changed (Zeitchick 2017). However, in general, the events are displayed appropriately, and the inaccuracies that some media display are mostly unconfirmed.

The film also perfectly reflects the authenticity of that time, both in the events and the details of scene design. The music that sounds in the frame, the cars and clothes of the characters correspond to the trends of 1967. In addition, the tension in the city, the poverty of hotels, and the rage of rebels also vividly describe historical events. According to the Rolling Stones, “Detroit” is not inferior in deepening the history and accuracy of “Dunkirk”, directed by the famous Christopher Nolan (Travers 2018). It is also noticeable, even without the review, that the tone and exposition of the film correspond to the spirit of the era.

“Detroit” is most appropriate for high school and college students as it is simultaneously thrilling and full of meaning. The cruelty of the scenes and the main idea of ​​the film is too complicated for students of secondary and junior school, so they may not appreciate it. At the same time, older viewers can feel or recognize the injustice of racism at the end of the twentieth century, and young people should understand and study this topic.

In conclusion, “Detroit” is an exciting and dramatic film that reveals the theme of racism and its terrible consequences. Despite possible interpretations and small inaccuracies in the plot, this film describes the real story and conveys its tone and idea. “Detroit” deserves five out of five stars, as it forced me to think about social problems and worry for the characters, thus making a good impression on me.


Detroit. Directed by Kathryn Bigelow. 2017. Annapurna Pictures, First Light Productions, and Page 1. Web.

Lang, Brent. 2017. “Variety. Web.

Travers, Peter. 2018. “The Rolling Stone. Web.

Zeitchick, Steven. 2017. “Los Angeles Times. Web.

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IvyPanda. 2022. ""Detroit" by Kathryn Bigelow." September 7, 2022. https://ivypanda.com/essays/detroit-by-kathryn-bigelow/.


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