Stations of the Elevated (1981)

MANFRED KIRCHHEIMER

Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB

USA, 1981. . Music by . Film Editing by Manfred Kirchheimer.

Made in the mid-eighties, this experimental art film has director Manfred Kirchheimer taking what was often seen as an eyesore of New York city of the time, graffiti-covered subway trains, and presenting it as graceful artistic expression. The entire film is made up of shots of trains traveling in one direction or another, their exteriors covered in spray painted designs that bear various messages like “Heaven Is Life” or “Earth Is Hell”. The shots that Kirchheimer uses aren’t very lengthy, he only allows each vehicle on a screen for a few seconds before cutting to another one and creating a feeling of motion, as if the film were taking you somewhere in the great metropolis that these trains serve. Soothing and amusing, the beautiful images also act as a time capsule for the city well before the changes that it saw towards the end of the twentieth century, and makes for a great companion piece with the similarly frozen in time feeling of Akerman’s News From Home.

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