The Film opens with shocking footage of Detroit now, abandoned factories and palaces, empty roads, fires raging. Built by the car for the car, with its groundbreaking suburbs, freeways and shopping centres, it was the embodiment of the American dream. The 3 big car manufacturers fought it out there: Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler. Detroit was once America’s fourth largest city.
The most encapsulating image was the footage of the ground breaking Ford Assembly plant in Michigan (a suburb of Detroit), which gave the foundation to Detroit’s ascendancy. At some point it became a mock baroque Theatre, which failed, unbelievably because it offered no parking. Abandoned now, it is just that a parking lot, cars parked under what remains of the rococo ceiling, the stair case Ford would have used, a crumbling spiral into air.
They’d found a remarkable older woman to interview, who gave the last lines of the film.
‘You can either see Detroit as a crumbling edifice of the American Dream, or you can see Detroit as the place to grow from now.’
Or words to that effect, as claiming Detroit are the hip artists and musicians of today, finding a living, planting urban agriculture. Organised recyclers, cottage industries.
But the image is of acres of falling factories, abandoned mansions.
The panel discussion at the end included Tom Walsh of the Detroit Free Press, Julian Temple the films producer.
The Big Three were in denial (during the Japanese car industry rise they carried on making gas guzzlers. Single product town) and continue to be in denial, more shock with denial these days.