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Call of the Wild: Detroit on screen

Call of the Wild: Detroit on screen O TH E R P E OPLE’S P ROBL E M S Call of the Wild Detroit on screen 3 Will Boisvert fter so many decades spent languishing in the shadows of depopulation and deindustrialization, Detroit is finally ready for its close-up. It’s become one of the most filmed places on earth, a tableau, in the words of a Time magazine photo essay, of “beautiful, horrible decline.” Empty skyscrapers cling to their elegance; ruined mansions gaze forlornly through burnt-out windows; the iconic slab of the Michigan Central train station, where mutating automobiles battled at the climax of Transformers, rears up like a giant tombstone. No film documentarian with a camera and a theory about the direction that civilization is heading can bear to pass this up—or afford to, since it offers for free the kind of striking postapocalyptic visuals that would normally require a CGI shop. Detroit has become a mythic landscape to the filmmakers who have flocked to the city, and they’ve invested it with the most potent of American mythologies, positing the city as the new frontier. The myth thrives, as in the French documentary Detroit: Ville Sauvage, on images of the city’s urban prairies, the http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Baffler MIT Press

Call of the Wild: Detroit on screen

The BafflerNov 1, 2012

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Publisher
MIT Press
Copyright
© 2012 Will Boisvert
ISSN
1059-9789
eISSN
2164-926X
DOI
10.1162/BFLR_a_00104
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

O TH E R P E OPLE’S P ROBL E M S Call of the Wild Detroit on screen 3 Will Boisvert fter so many decades spent languishing in the shadows of depopulation and deindustrialization, Detroit is finally ready for its close-up. It’s become one of the most filmed places on earth, a tableau, in the words of a Time magazine photo essay, of “beautiful, horrible decline.” Empty skyscrapers cling to their elegance; ruined mansions gaze forlornly through burnt-out windows; the iconic slab of the Michigan Central train station, where mutating automobiles battled at the climax of Transformers, rears up like a giant tombstone. No film documentarian with a camera and a theory about the direction that civilization is heading can bear to pass this up—or afford to, since it offers for free the kind of striking postapocalyptic visuals that would normally require a CGI shop. Detroit has become a mythic landscape to the filmmakers who have flocked to the city, and they’ve invested it with the most potent of American mythologies, positing the city as the new frontier. The myth thrives, as in the French documentary Detroit: Ville Sauvage, on images of the city’s urban prairies, the

Journal

The BafflerMIT Press

Published: Nov 1, 2012

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