Style Wars

Style Wars

Running Time: 
70 minutes
Bonus Features

Commentary, Outtakes, B-Boy Showcase, Style Wars in the Cutting Room

In 1983, PBS aired a documentary called, “Style Wars”. In it, driector Tony Silver delved into the world of the graffiti artists that was painting everything in site in New York City. What are the reasons these people have for doing what they do, what do they gain from doing it, do others gain anything from it? What happens to a city that is being taken over by spray paint covered walls? These kids have decided that the city of New York is going to be their canvas even though what they do is illegal. All that paint is considered to be art by some, to some it's their mark in the world, but for some people it's just plain vandalism and nothing else. In this documentary you get to hear what both sides think about something that grew so quickly and causes so much controversy.

Alright, looking at the description of this documentary, I thought I was going to be watching an insightful piece about how hip hop impacted the culture of the early 80's while at the same time getting told about graffiti by the people that does it. Style Wars sounded like a very interesting and intriguing documentary that I just knew that I was going to really enjoy. All that expectation I had with this, from reading some past comments on the original showing of this and how it was groundbreaking, insightful, informative, and just so overwhelming, that how could it be bad. Right?
Wrong. What I watched was nothing like what I was expecting and what I had read about it. There is talk about graffiti, there is talk about hip hop, both sides of the topics are being discussed by people, and we get to see some of the graffiti that's been painted. What this does not have though is any real cohesive telling of information. I didn't think that I was going to come away from watching this knowing everything there is to know about graffiti and hip hop but with this being a documentary I should have at least had some insight into the world of these topics.
I didn't get any real knowledge about graffiti or hip in New York City during the early 80's, at least none that can be used in a productive way. There's a lot interviews being conducted with kids that go around the city painting anything they can, there's talk about graffiti and hip hop, how it impacted the culture, the city, and even interviews where the mayor and other people of power talk about how much graffiti hurts the city. However, it's all talk though, a lot of opinons, and kids that want the camera to know that they are misunderstood and so is graffiti and what it means. But what it does mean, what it means to the ones doing it and how it's misunderstood, well that's never really answered. Even though I didn't learn anything or find this insightful, I still enjoyed watching it. If you want a glimpse back in time to the early 80's of the graffiti artists of New York City, this is perfect. It's a time piece if there ever was one. I've seen some good attempts done to make a movie look like it was from the 80's, but to have the real thing right there in front of me was very interesting to watch. I enjoyed seeing the past of New York City, a past that I never got to see and beyond this documentary I will never get to see again, so for that alone Style Wars is worth being watched.
First thing you got to know about this Blu Ray is that it's from an old documentary that didn't have a large budget. So when it was first filmed it wasn't filmed with the highest quality in mind so now after all these years the transfer over is still not that great. This Blu Ray still contains scratches and blemishes that was on the original film that can't be taken away, though for me I wouldn't want it to be. Still, the picture quality was pretty good, some crushing of the blacks, there's noise in some of the picture, and the colors don't quite stand out as much but it still looks decent. There's new bonus features that are included on the Blu Ray, like new 40 minutes of footage that was put together after a Kickstarter fund raising was done by the fans. This was my first time watching Style Wars so even the old footage was new to me but having this new footage I'm sure will be exciting for fans of the documentary.

Lee Roberts
Review by Lee Roberts
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