Stations of the Elevated

Stations of the Elevated ★★★½

“They would come by and it would be screaming full of colors — just gorgeous ... The smart thing I did was shoot it all outdoors. Most of the lines are indoors, and the way most people see these paintings was indoors. Doing it outdoors gave a whole other perspective.”
-Manfred Kirchheimer

Stations of the Elevated illustrates the personality plastered throughout New York City and its transit, through the eyes of the railroad lines — showcasing the graffiti seen on the trains and terminals, backed by the percussive beat of Charles Mingus (as well as Aretha Franklin). Captured through the lens of director and cinematographer Manfred Kirchheimer, Stations of the Elevated is the first — if not one of the first — films to document and bring focus to the graffiti movement in New York City during its prime. The art featured in the film was done by Graffiti artists "Lee, The Fabulous 5, Shadow, Daze, Kase, Butch, Blade, Slave, 12 T2B, Ree, and Pusher.” There is a subtle statement being made in comparing illegal street art to the allowance of billboard advertisement in the city. The film was essentially forgotten after premiering at the New York Film Festival in 1981 but was restored and re-released in 2014. It now serves as historical footage of an ever-changing city caught in time.

“How does this artwork that was deemed illegal coexist in a city with advertising that is deemed legal [and] that is possibly more offensive?"