Style Wars Tony Silver

Style Wars Tony Silver
Nineteen eighty-three was a breakthrough year for hip-hop on screen. The release of Wild Style and the lone Graffiti Rock episode were examples of trying to bring hip-hop to the mainstream and also show people what was going on in the streets of New York. Though Wild Style is a classic, it's the realness and accurate documentation of Style Wars that is the king of the genre's quick rise. Focusing primarily on the art of bombing subway cars in the wee hours of the morning to spread writers' talents across the city, Style Wars showed hip-hop for what it truly was back in the early '80s: passionate. After catching word of the Rock Steady Crew mastering their breaking skills in various parts of the city, Tony Silver organised a production crew and began to capture the underground phenomenon of hip-hop, focusing primarily on various graf artists. Within minutes all the fuss over whether bombing cars with intricate and beautifully designed burners is vandalism or an art form is placed squarely on the latter. The way the writers speak so passionately about their work makes you take notice of how this secretive organisation of artists strive to get their skills shown. Silver balances out his subjects with testimonials from authorities, the public and Mayor Ed Koch, but it's clear that the writers are the heroes here. The second disc contains hundreds of burners produced by the writers followed in the feature, and includes recent interviews with many of the artists, which is extremely compelling and sadly heartbreaking. A few died way before their time and many gave up on bombing after the city began barricading the subway yards. Some took the end of hitting cars as a chance to progress the art form, but others saw the lock-up as the end of graffiti and gave up on what they lived for. Style Wars has always been essential viewing, but more than ever this film needs to be seen in all its restored glory. Extras: interviews with Silver and producer Henry Chalfant; artist interviews; deleted footage; photo gallery; 30-minute continuous loop of over 200 burners and whole cars. (Plexifilm, www.plexifilm.com)