‘Stations of the Elevated’: High Praise for Manfred Kirchheimer’s Classic Graffiti Documentary

October 16, 2014

Longtime BFA Film and Video faculty member Manfred Kirchheimer’s groundbreaking graffiti documentary Stations of the Elevated (watch a trailer below), which was shot on 16mm in 1977 and first screened in 1981, has been recently restored and is having a weeklong run at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (October 17 – 23). Featuring music by Charles Mingus and Aretha Franklin, Kirchheimer’s film captures the birth of an era in New York City and is racking up rave reviews.

heaven425“New York has long served as both incubator and muse for filmmakers,” writes Eric Hynes in The New York Times. “While Martin Scorsese, Woody Allen and Spike Lee are among the most celebrated of these, few have filmed the city as loyally, or as marvelously, as Manfred Kirchheimer.” Stations of the Elevated is “a color-drenched, jazz-propelled city symphony of careening, graffiti-coated subway cars.”

“Lumbering, skronking, and wondrously paint-bombed, Manfred Kirchheimer’s Stations of the Elevated is a 45-minute proto-hip-hop bliss-out, a masterpiece of train- and tag-spotting dedicated to memorializing the extravagant graffiti on its era’s MTA trains and how those trains rumbled across Brooklyn and the Bronx, bearing not just exhausted New Yorkers but gifted artists’ urgent personal expression,” writes the Village Voice’s Alan Scherstuhl.

“As far as documentaries about graffiti go, this one is a prototype,” writes Charlie Schultz on ArtSlant. Stations of the Elevated “is a beautiful and historical work” that “mixes shots of corporate advertisements with color blasted train cars, which makes the vivacity of the graffiti that much more potent.”

Stations of the Elevated is screening with Kirchheimer’s 1968 short film, Claw. For ticket information and show times, visit BAM’s website.

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