Monday, 13 May 2013

Just Don't Watch the Whole Thing

Pretty much every German of my generation has read Christiane F's "Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo" (We children from Bahnhof Zoo), an autobiographical account of heroin addiction and child prostitution in West Berlin, which scandalised Germany in the 1980s. I stayed away from it. I remember my sister reading it when she was 14 and I was 12 and being scared by the book's ominous cover.

Until this week. I reckoned I was old enough now to succumb to the cult and travel to the '80s, and so I watched the Ulrich Eidel film adaptation.

Turns out, my instinct as a 12-year-old was correct. I couldn't really handle seeing the demise of beautiful Christiane (above, with her first taste of drugs) and her boyfriend Detlef (below with a client). 

And the story is basically plotless: It all goes from not-so-good to bad to much much worse. We never see them coming out of their mess, and the ending is an awkward "then-I-became-clean-thanks-to-my- mum" epilogue. Christiane F's account should have never been fictionalised. A documentary would have gone deeper without ultimately glamorizing pretty thin teenagers (with her spindly legs actress Natja Brunckhorst looks shockingly like a heroin-chic model). 

But then, of course, David Bowie would have never appeared in the film to condone the whole thing.

Christiane F. - Scene with David Bowie's "Heroes"

David Bowie "Station to Station" film appearance

David Bowie & Brian Eno, "Warszawa" (inspired by the apparent desolation of 1973 Warsaw which Bowie visited for about two hours when his train stopped from Moscow to Berlin)

The Children from Bahnhof Zoo (1981) - Part 2 (English subtitles)
The full thing here

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