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.
Biography / Drama
Biography / Drama
A teen girl in 1970's Berlin becomes addicted to heroin. Everything in her life slowly begins to distort and disappear as she befriends a small crew of junkies and falls in love with a drug-abusing male prostitute.
October 28, 2020