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I've seen many films portraying drug addiction but none with such terrifying
authenitcity as this film. It's funny. I haven't really thought about this
film in years and what made me suddenly think of it now was I was thinking
about movies on my DVD wish list. CHRISTIANE F was on that list. So for
s***s and giggles I ran a routine search in the Internet Movie Database
(this site is GOD!!!) and low and behold, it was out!!! Naturally, I placed
my order for it. As much as I wished it was the subtitled version (which is
only available in PAL), I have the German version as well as the dubbed so
that's not that bad. To those who have seen REQUIEM FOR A DREAM and thought
that it was the most disturbing film they've seen about drug addiction, I
have news for ya: you haven't seen anything yet! CHRISTIANE F., makes
REQUIEM look like a Disney film in comparison. Although the English dubbing
is really cheesy and bad, still it doesn't detract from Ulrich Edel's images
of the dark, seedy, and depressing world of heroin addicts.
Subtitled, "Image of a Generation", CHRISTIANE F is the true story of a lonely, bored teenager in the '70's who gets into the drug scene at 12, hooked on heroin at 13 and becomes a prostitute at 14 to support her habit. There are a couple of things about this that struck me. First, was that Edel used all unknowns for the main parts, especially the kids. They acted so naturally, that even Edel makes the comment that "it's a wonder they haven't been actors or junkies their whole lives." Also the kids who played the main characters, were as close to the age as the real people they were portraying. Nadja Brunckhorst, who plays Christiane, was fourteen at the time and does a remarkable job. In fact, this movie pretty much made her a star in Germany and to this day has had a prolific acting career, mainly on German TV as well as some film work. The second was the use of David Bowie's music in the soundtrack. Now, I'm biased. I'm a huge fan of Bowie but even if I wasn't, his music was used to staggering effect. Truly memorable was the scene toward the end of the film as Bowie's song 'Sense of Doubt' is played in the background as Edel's camera pans across the sad, ghostly faces of people at the subway platform. The music captures the despair of the scene very well, almost too well for comfort. The music serves, as any great film music should, as another character in the film, helping to portray the despair, loneliness, bravado, confusion of adolescence. I feel I can identify with Christiane and her life when I was her age. I was lonely, alienated, and sad. Where as she escaped her pain with drugs, I escaped mine through my writing. I can sympathize completely. You want to fit in with a group so badly that you'll do things that you know you shouldn't just to "be cool". Well, I really wish more teenagers would be shown this film. Would it change a life? Maybe. I do know one thing for me: after reading her book, from which this film is based, I've found a kindred soul. From what I know, she is clean and has been since the film's original release. I hope she continues to have the strength to remain so. Because once a junkie, always a junkie. "We can be heroes, just for one day."-David Bowie, 'Heroes' This song becomes a very understated theme for this film, a song about hope in a film where there's very little hope to be found.
I have seen so many films about drug addiction, and not one of them can equal the sheer power of this one. The life of this 14 year old West Berlin junkie is crafted with an astounding level of realism. Her downward spiral into heroin addiction and prostitution is captured by Ulrich Edel, who holds nothing back in his depiction. We see through Christiane's eyes, every filthy toilet, every creepy, slimy john whom she must trick with for drug money, every moment of terror and desperation. At this age, everything is felt so intensely. Christiane, a young teenager from a "hell on Earth" place called Gropistadt, a truly dark and bleak part of Neukoln, West Berlin. A place where there is absolutely nothing for a teenager to do. She discovers a place called "The Sound", a cavernous disco located near the posh and touristy "Kurfuerstendamm". "The Sound" is a seedy teen hangout, infested with drugs, and with dealers only too happy to feed Valium and heroin to kids eager to escape their dreary reality and to have fun. Here is where Christiane meets Detlef, a boy her age. Detlef starts using heroin soon after they meet, and Christiane, scared of losing him to the drug, begins using also. It is especially important to notice that the film doesn't glamorize heroin. As soon as the hard drug use begins, the mood of the film changes instantly. The wonderful music of David Bowie whom Christiane worships is heard frequently throughout the first section of the film. After her and her friends become junkies, the Bowie music disappears, which is very symbolic, i think. Thankfully director Edel didn't make the mistake that so many American directors make when filming stories about teens: The actors here are genuine teenagers, around 14/15 years old. This makes the film so much more powerful and shocking, and much more believable. The effects of heroin on these kids is staggering to behold; they turn into these sickly shadows of their former selves, like zombies, in search of their next fix. And strangely, Christiane and her friends never seem to enjoy the high from the heroin. You will never see such a bleak vision of kids lost in a surreal hell of drug addiction. And to add further to the intensity, the film is long, 138 minutes uncut, becoming steadily darker and seedier by the minute, until the viewer wonders just how long can this young girl go on like this without completely self-destructing. And amazingly, throughout the running time, the film never preaches, not for a moment. And it never becomes sentimental, as most American drug films often do. The film style is specifically German. I doubt that any American director could have created such a dark and gritty film about people so young. "Christiane F: Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo" remains one of the most well-known and admired films to ever come out of Germany.
I really wasn't prepared for this film, or was I? I had been recommended it,
and told it was disturbing, but it certainly had a massive effect on
Christiane F is the true story of a girl who gets seduced by the German nightlife and David Bowie, and slowly drifts onto heroin.
There are several disturbing parts of this movie. The heroin/prostitution scenes are disturbing, but I didn't get disturbed by these as much as I did the story. The media would have us believe that heroin users and dealers are monsters and don't have a right to live. The people in this movie are real, and easy to identify with.
I definitely recommend this movie, and compared to Trainspotting (a film I also enjoyed) is much more realistic.
This powerful and shocking movie is an adaption from the bestselling
book based on the true story of Christiane F. Having lived in Berlin
until the mid 80's and being the same age as Christiane F. I can only
stress the authencity of both book and movie. Berlin was a dark and
depressing city at the time, yet a true metropolis with all its
problems. You didn't have to be part of the "drug scene" to notice it
everywhere in the downtown and surrounding area. Strung out junkies
hitting you up for money in subway stations, streetwalkers, prostitutes
at the Bahnhof Zoo ... the magazine article, followed by the book and
movie just kind of brought it out in the open and documented the
problem. The movie is still relevant 20 years later, one just have to
put it a bit in perspective.
The soundtrack with David Bowie's music (newly rereleased on CD) is powerful and fits the overall mood perfect. Note: Christiane F. continued to struggle with her drug addiction until 1996 when she had her son. She lives in Berlin.
I have just finished viewing Christiane F. this morning, and I can say
I have been thinking about nothing else for the last 7 hours. This is a
powerful movie that will leave you very sad and depressed about the story
Christiane. I have been on the verge of tears all day thinking about this
poor child's life.
As noted in other reviews, this is a very dark film that portrays childhood drug abuse in Berlin in the late 70's. It is not for the faint of heart, as there is death; many needle scenes, vomiting from the characters and prostitution scenes. The story is not happy and it is a downward spiral of one child's sorry life in Berlin. The only happy moment comes in the last 30 seconds of the film, as it is depressing all the way up to the end. But, this is a love story (a dark one) about Christiane and Detlev and their journey through the life of drugs as teenagers in Berlin. Even though the relationship is damned, it is still touching.
Now to the facts, the film boasts some very good teenage actors in a 14-year-old Natja Brunckhorst as Christiane and Thomas Haustein as Detlev. Both portray emotions common to the characters: lack of confidence, desperation, depression and denial very well. Both characters are very believable and you will form an emotional attachment to both. The soundtrack is all David Bowie, which really provides an excellent set of moments with the music. I was very impressed that his music could be placed so well into a movie.
The DVD version comes in the original German language version and a dubbed English version (which I saw). Now, I wish I knew German (or it had subtitles) as I would much rather have heard the original actors voices, than the 20-year-old voice that is dubbing Christiane. Regardless, the movie can still be enjoyed in this format. The DVD also comes with no frills; it's just the movie. I really think a movie of this caliber should have actor interviews, a Christiane biography, or whatever, as this film will leave you wanting more. Hopefully they address this with a future release, as well as English subtitles for the German language version.
This movie I feel is really a lot stronger than some of the other drug movies that I have seen: Drugstore Cowboy, Traffic, etc.. and I would highly recommend it over the others, as it is a very touching story about the dark side of life.
And last show it to your kids to show them the realities of drugs. Kids need to know that they can die form drugs. The only problem I have is this movie is based off of heroin, which is not a popular drug today, so it might not be as believable to teenagers.
Christiane F is a visceral and realistic experience that has never been
duplicated in the same fashion. I watched it once over a decade ago
while in my late teens and it still haunts me. I happened on this page
while searching for a DVD so I can introduce my wife to what I feel is
one of the greatest movies of all time, especially because it's all
based on a true story. The person who put a comment suggesting this
movie has no plot is hopeless; sorry there's no Schwarzenegger to wrap
things up nicely and put it all into perspective. And that's why David
Bowie is a legend, he obviously has vision that the commenter clearly
lacks. Brilliant decision to be involved in this; insuring yet another
piece of his immortality.
For those who are capable of thought and aren't afraid to be share a powerful descent into dark and dismal depths with the movie's characters, find this and watch it.
"Christiane F" is the first film made by German director Ulrich Edel.The movie looks almost like a documentary what makes it even more disturbing.The acting is excellent-Natja Brunckhorst truly shines as a Christiane,who slowly becomes addicted to heroin.The atmosphere is really gritty and dark,and the film pulls no punches with its depiction of Berlin's drug world.So if you liked "Requiem for a Dream" or "Naked Lunch" give this one a look.My rating:10 out of 10.
For a long time I had misgivings about this film. I thought that it
would be like so many others, where a teenager enters in the world of
drugs, lives through hell and, in the end, returns safely to the womb
of family and society - in-between we are treated with edifying
speeches delivered by mothers and/or fathers, with rights to tears and
lots of sentimentality.
This is not the case of "Christiane F. - Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo". The film is direct and honest and shows the events as viewed by the children from Bahnhof Zoo. The film tries to show things as they are and be objective. No moralist speeches are given. That's why the film has such power. The first film scenes show Berlin in the night. The main attraction for Christiane and friends is the discotheque Sound. It all begins there.
There are many night scenes in the film. The days look dark and gloomy. In the beginning their meeting place is Sound, but as the road becomes narrower, there remains only one place for them: The Bahnhof Zoo. Days and nights seem to merge more and more. And the day resembles more and more the night. A long night, a short step can lead to eternal night.
This stuff almost begs to be treated in a sensationalistic way. But "Christiane F. - Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo" is a serious film. It deserves to be seen.
If you search for a document telling you the truth about falling into drug addiction in the 70s, this is the right film for you. But this is not a mere documentary; it's got artistic value, as well as great acting by the young and cute Nadja Brunckhorst and Thomas Haupstein. The scene where Christiane, after her first heroin sniffing, gets through a long gallery in a car with her friends is a wonderful metaphore of her first step into addiction. Great locations and a beautiful, functional photography complete this very good film, which represents an isolated case in director Ulrich Edels's career.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is a gritty movie about the one girl's experience in the Berlin
underage prostitution/drug scene of the 70's. This is no glamorized
Hollywood movie with mid-twenty year old actors as teens.
This is a depressing movie, although ultimately it has a good ending, at least for Christiane.
I read the book years and years ago, and after buying the DVD a few months back, I wanted to re-read the book as it has much more detail, and more cycles of getting clean and relapsing than shown in the movie. The book is out of print (natch!), but it is worth checking out used-book stores for it.
The DVD has no extras at all, and as noted by others, no subtitles - you get it in original German, or second-rate dubbed English. I watch it both ways - German for the emotion, English for understanding.
Still, highly recommended for a change from the Hollywood usual. Much David Bowie in the soundtrack.
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