25 July 2005

style wars

New York's legendary Kings of Graffiti own a special place in the hip hop pantheon. Style Wars is regarded by many as the definitive document of the emerging hip hop culture, an emblem of the original, embracing spirit that burst forth to the world from underground tunnels, uptown streets, clubs and playgrounds.

The film chronicles an extraordinary epoch of youthful creativity and civic controversy. Teenage graffiti artists made New York City's ramshackle subway system their public playground, battleground, and spectacular artistic canvas. Opposing them were Mayor Edward Koch, the police, and the Transit Authority. As MC's and DJs rocked the city with new sounds, street corner B-boy breakdance battles became performance art. Today this superbly photographed, world-acclaimed, prizewinning film, newly hailed at New York's Tribeca Film Festival, and in Europe from Berlin to Barcelona, is more timely than ever. The phrase "New York, 1982" (the superimposed title that starts the film) has itself become a code for a legendary time of heroic teenage exploits, a touchstone for successive generations of youth worldwide, many of whom can recite the film's dialogue by heart.

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