Style Wars (1983)





Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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Calisthenic breakdancing and big, bold graffiti art were in top form and popularity in the U.S. in the early and mid-'80s, and this documentary extols the spirit and the talents of a variety of New York youngsters who were expert in either one or both of these challenging pastimes. Public reactions are wildly varied. On the one hand, the youth brave a police crackdown on graffiti and face barbed-wire fences and guard dogs in the railroad yards where they spray paint subway cars with oversized lettering. On the other hand, their art is shown in a municipal gallery and analyzed with the same seriousness as a Rembrandt or a Renoir. Whether viewers judge the graffiti an "eyesore" or a bit of post-modern expressionism, it is true that both the art and the dancing are incisively presented in this hour-long exploration.
Documentary , Musical & Performing Arts , Special Interest
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Sam Schacht
as Narrator
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Critic Reviews for Style Wars

All Critics (3)

Yes, there were Style Wars back in the day. But they weren't just battling over graffiti design. The war was over which way the cultural landscape would swing.

Full Review… | August 22, 2005

...provides a glimpse into the artistic process (with its beautiful, criminal, and competitive aspects) and preserves a chunk of public art from a NYC that no longer exists.

Full Review… | January 24, 2004
Mixed Reviews

Quote not available.

August 22, 2005

Audience Reviews for Style Wars


A fine documentary piece about the blossoming graffiti culture in New York in the early 80's. It raises a lot of questions. Art or vandalism? Art or simply graphic design? Does hanging it in a gallery legitimize it, or does it get robbed of something vital to the artform? And the conflicts with the authorities, the public, and the devious villain Cap give the story some drama. The uptight-white-guy narration sounds dated (and hilarious) but otherwise a solid and thought-provoking work.

Martin Teller
Martin Teller

one of my favorite documentaries. this one shows graffiti in NyC in the late 70's early 80's and how the hip-hop movement began. Brilliant and well shot.

Jesse Chelifer
Jesse Chelifer

Loosing half a star just because its kinda corney to watch now a days. This is the movie to see on the rise of Hip-Hop in new york and anyone who says they love graffiti, street culture, and rap music but hasnt seen this movie truly has no idea what they are talking about.

Joe Kaufman
Joe Kaufman

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