Deforce: America’s Past. America’s Future. Detroit’s Present.

| March 4, 2012

When doing a documentary about Detroit, you can go the exploitative route, or you can go the honest route. Deforce: America’s Past. America’s Future. Detroit’s Present. is a documentary that goes the honest route, and by doing so, it addresses the most important issues in America today. And, sadly, the issues that aren’t regularly talked about.
The documentary is comprised mainly of interviews and stock footage, with loads of statistics as the backbone of a lot of the information. The information is well balanced, honest, and appropriately critical. It touches on 19th century Detroit history briefly, but focuses on 20th century Detroit with heavy attention on post World War II. It’s about the only American city that has a clear narrative, and the narrative line is unfortunately linear. Arguably, you could trace the rise and fall of Detroit in two straight lines: one going up, one going down, both at the same rate. This documentary attempts to explain why that is, and nothing within the documentary makes a case against this decline.
Deforce explores the drug trade and how that’s affected the inner cities, but it also draws parallels between the War on Drugs and the prohibition days in the twenties. It crosscuts from a present day drug dealer to an old school booze runner discussing their process, showing the similarities with mirror-image anecdotes. Not only is this a brilliant critique of the War on Drugs, but it provides a bridge between two points in history. And that’s what this documentary is most preoccupied with: the cause, effect, and cyclical nature of history. It uses this preoccupation to predict a series of possible futures for Detroit.
The interviews range from upper class to lower class residents, and the piece is stronger for it. There’s a similarity to the outlook from both sides of the class division, showing how unified the residents of Detroit are in their understanding of the city’s pro’s and cons. Political scandals and lousy, seemingly maliscious policies are all that has seemed to keep the people of Detroit from progressing as far as they’re clearly capable of. And the makers of this documentary (Daniel Falconer and Andrew Rodney) are undeniably apart of this very ilk, and there’s a passion evident that cries out for a solution to these unending problems.
Deforce: America’s Past. America’s Future. Detroit’s Present. is filled with the kind of information that gets you discussing immediately afterwards, with revealing details about a contemporary America that’s rarely in the spotlight. It could be shocking for the uninitiated, and the more shocked you are, the more ashamed and naive you’ll likely feel. I’m still holding out hope for a David Simon to come out of Detroit and create a Wire-type show based on their experiences. Deforce plays like a blueprint for such a show, and if that show never comes to fruition, then let’s hope that this documentary becomes a sensation and educates accordingly.
Now available on DVD from Detroit Documentary Productions, LLC

About the Author:

Jared studied Film at Eastern Michigan University, the movie store and movie theater he used to work at, on his own, and with friends. He is also a playwright, screenwriter, director, and short story writer. His work has previously appeared on two other websites: The Man in the Movie Hat and The Hive, and his feature film 'Footlights' can be found on YouTube (for free!). He lives, works, reads, walks his dog, and watches sports in Detroit.
Filed in: Video and DVD

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