Detroit and other in-flight movies

I get impacted seriously by some movies.

“Detroit” by Oscar Award Winning Director, Kathryn Bigelow, is one such movie which I happened to see very recently. It left a searing effect on my being for its utterly brutal showcase of American White racism against the African Americans in Detroit of 1967. I felt really very bad that cultured and educated people (the Whites) could do such brutally violnt things to others simply because those others were Blacks and considered slaves in American history. I did not cry (I do that rarely) but I was surely hurt and surely badly affected. When I connect the dots and see what is happening almost every day in the U.S. now, it is an inescapable conclusion that anyone can arrive at, that things have not changed much in America with respect to the utterly despicable practice of racism. I am referring here to the recent infamous incidents against Blacks in one of the Starbucks outlets, at Yale University, and at an AirBnB house. You just have to keep in touch with what is going on via CNN as they seem to report on such issues without feeling national shame.

I am not writing a review of “Detroit”, but I would urge all my readers to see the movie. It is sure to create an impact. The violence unleashed by the Detroit Police against innocent Blacks is palpable, and is conveyed with powerful direction and camera. The infamous Algiers Motel scenes are sometimes too much to stomach. How can all this happen in a democratic country like the U.S.)? Not only all of these very bad and intolerable things happened in Detroit over six days in 1967, the police officers who committed torture and murdered many Blacks were let go in the jury trial which ensued the violence. That is American Justice system in operation!

Viewing all this from faraway, I do not believe that the African Americans will ever be able to forget (and they should not) the atrocities committed on them just because of their incompatible colour. And, such atrocities continue in America even to this day in varying degrees. Not every critic of the movie agrees with the main thrust of the movie – White Police violence brutally orchestrated against the Blacks with such visceral impact that it becomes difficult sometimes to watch this movie – for me it was a history lesson on American racism, but for several critics the movie did not convey the issues that exist even today in American law enforcement, judicial system, the inability of the nation to face up to serious issues pertaining to Blacks, et al.

Some of the other movies which might be of interest (I tend to see more of French and Italian movies on flights as I find them to be fascinating and inscrutable often):

“Made in Italy” – a complex portrayal of a meat packer (worker in a meat packing factory) who has several crises in his life and ultimately loses his job after working for 30 years, and how his somewhat difficult wife helps him to steer his way out of the morass. Fascinating and instructive, sometimes long winded, but nevertheless interesting. Obviously Italian movie.

“Normandie Nue” – A French movie about a smallish village which is fighting for its survival. Its mayor is a colourful and influential character, and almost always manages to hold the villagers together, however he fails when the villagers did not cooperate with him on a project to be financed by an American photographer (who asks them all to pose in the nude). Again a very interesting movie with an unexpected ending.

It is always interesting to see how the European movies intertwine social issues with personalities and individual lives, and strive to produce something of relevance to the audience who see similarities in their own lives or have witnessed something similar close to their neighbourhood. It is more pertinent to view such movies rather than escapist action movies (which unfortunately I like a lot) which have no relevance to human reality.

I will see more such movies when I fly again soon. In the meanwhile, enjoy your weekend.


Vijay Srinivasan

12th May 2018

Author: Vijay Srinivasan

VJ lives and works in Singapore. He hails originally from Southern part of India, and has lived in Malaysia/Singapore for over 21 years. He loves networking, reading, travelling, amateurish golfing, badminton, and arguing on intellectual issues which affect mankind with his friends and colleagues. He also loves his wines and blogging !

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