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The film is unique in that it shows these homeless people as human beings and the viewer gets to know them as individuals. Yes, many of them have drug problems, but they still have lives, hopes and dreams, a tough will to survive and often a sense of humor. They manage to cook meals on makeshift stoves and there is a feeling of camaraderie among them. We also see their ingenuity with the very little they have. And realize that their days are full of hard work just to survive. The conditions they live in are absolutely squalid. But this is their home.
During the course of the film, Amtrak decided to rid the tunnels of the people and homeless advocates negotiated for them to be placed in real housing. By the end of the film we see them in real apartments. There is an upbeat quality to this ending of the film.
However, the DVD is much more than the actual film. There's a 40-minute interview with the filmmaker, Marc Singer, which is equally as fascinating as the film. I hadn't realized that he was a non-professional person who had never made a film before.Read more ›
If you're Marc Singer, the man behind this Sundance Award winning documentary, you found a way to do quite a lot.
For a person who'd never touched a movie camera before starting in on this "project", one can see why this film impacts its viewers on multiple levels. Shot in grainy black-and-white 16mm film, this documentary gives us a startlingly real-life look at several homeless people living in self-built shanties in the Amtrak tunnels under the city. No light makes it down there, except whenever a train skirts by or via the makeshift lighting this weird community has produced by tapping into Amtrak's electrical system.
Marc Singer delves into this society. And I mean he DELVES. Mr. Singer gave up living on the surface and slunk into this netherworld for two years in order to shoot his film. And who did he use as grips, sound assistants, and lighting experts? The homeless themselves.
More interesting than the film itself is how it got made. After watching the documentary, I went ahead and looked over the special features on the DVD and found a "Making Of" track which focused on Mr. Singer and how he accomplished his film making. This showed the incredible lack of understanding of anything related to filming and those who helped him out, both in teaching him and by giving him financial help so that the documentary made it out to the public. We also get to see the amazing multiple awards that the documentary won at Sundance; an incredible set of scenes that contrasts starkly with what Mr.Read more ›
I would suggest to the people that are slamming this movie that this type of flick is not your cup of tea. Go pop a Matt Damon movie in.
This is a great movie on two fronts. First of all, the camera work and editing is perfect, and secondly, it seems to me that Singer's approach to this film is to simply show the viewer that homeless people are not the paper-thin cliche's that our mind conjures up when we hear the word, but three-dimensional human beings that have the same concerns, and live the same life that any of us do.
What is so incredible about this movie is that you expect to see something truly bizarre occurring in those tunnels, and what you actually see is a group of people, doing their thing, just like anyone else. They are a diverse group, which in itself is unexpected. As the film progresses, their plywood huts really begin to seem like any other community, except in a tunnel. It's surreal.
I don't think for a second that Singer wants us to pity these people, honestly a lot of them aren't doing too bad (considering the circumstances). I think the point here is just to observe, and to see that these "freaks" are pretty much just standard-issue human beings.
What struck me about this film is that it was made on such a limited budget by people who lived in the tunnel. There were no prima-donna actors, directors and producers. As a result, the film is an honest portrayal of life under the tunnels.
There is excellent information on how the film was made at [web page], and you can also catch some samples of the haunting music from the film.
The film inspired me to learn more about the people living in the tunnels under New York. Two books I would recommend on the subject are "The Mole People" by Jennifer Toth, and "The Tunnel" by Margaret Morton.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I had to watch this movie for a research paper that I am doing and I thought it was very insightful.Published 2 months ago by Elizabeth
I first saw this documentary on Netflix. It takes place in the tunnels of Penn Station in New York City(which is not far from where I live) and delivers a raw look into the... Read morePublished 2 months ago by KRF
Wow, just wow. I'm so thankful for everything in my life right now. This documentary has given me so much perspective. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Jesse
Amtrak was so concerned about the wellbeing of the homeless they kicked them out of whatever crude shelter they had onto the streets of New York.Published 6 months ago by stirfry
This was very interesting. Maybe I missed it, but I didn't hear or see a year so I could put the time in context.Published 9 months ago by Angela M. Dannelley