Nov 8-12, 2018

Stations of the Elevated

Directed by Manfred Kircheimer with music by Charles Mingus and Aretha Franklin

Run Time: 46 Minutes USA Language: English


Director Manfred Kirchheimer’s lyrical documentary captures the exuberant height of the 1970s graffiti movement in New York City. Shot over the course of 1977 on lush 16mm color reversal stock, the film weaves together vivid images of elevated subway trains crisscrossing the gritty urban landscape with a complex soundtrack that combines the ambient sounds of the city with the music of Charles Mingus and Aretha Franklin.

Among the first-ever documentations of graffiti on film, Stations of the Elevated features the work of early New York graffiti legends including Lee, Fab 5 Freddy, Shadow, Daze, Kase, Butch, Blade, Slave, 12 T2B, Ree, and Pusher. In a period when the graffiti covering the city’s subway system was largely dismissed as vandalism, Kirchheimer explored it as a form of self-expression and a reaction to New York’s social and economic conditions, an artistic counterpoint to the “legalized vandalism” dominating the city’s visual landscape in the form of corporate advertising. Juxtaposing the colorful imagery of ‘tagged’ cars with shots of carefully hand-painted billboards depicting hamburgers and bikini-clad women, Stations of the Elevatedforces audiences to ask, “What is urban art, and what role does it play in the daily life of a city?”

“An astonishingly beautiful film about graffiti-covered trains hurtling through a strange urban landscape filled with the debris of a decaying civilization. Exquisite… Stations unspools for long, glorious stretches without dialogue, following the rails alongside its stars — colorfully tagged subway trains — as they glide through both urban terrain and lush countryside.” —New York Film Festival

Film Details

Director: Manfred Kirchheimer
Cinematographer: Manfred Kirchheimer
Editor: Manfred Kirchheimer
Music: Charles Mingus, Aretha Franklin
Running Time: 46 minutes

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