Christiane F (1981) from Tuna, Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski), and Chance

Tuna's comments in white: 

Christiane F. (1981) is a German made film based on the true story of Christiane F, brilliantly played by Natja Brunkhorst in her debut performance. As the film opens, Christiane is 13, living in a broken home with her mother and sister in a typical Berlin apartment building. She is a huge David Bowie fan, and longs to visit a Berlin discotheque called Sound. Her girlfriend sneaks her in, even though she is underage, and that is where she meets Detlev, also played brilliantly by Thomas Haustein. The two start a weekend relationship. Christiane worships him, and tries to imitate him, with the first act being a tattoo she puts on her hand to match his.

This imitative behavior quickly gets out of hand when he starts mainlining heroine like all of his friends, and she follows suit. When she learns that he "works" as a male prostitute, but "only gives hand jobs, because any more and it wouldn't be just work," we know it is inevitable that she start turning tricks to support their habits. The drug scene is centered around the main train station, and the film is sometimes called "Christiane F: we children from the train station Zoo." When Christiane OD's at home, her mother and her mother's boyfriend finally notice that there is a problem, and lock Christiane and Detlev in her bedroom to go cold turkey. There first act to celebrate after getting clean is to visit their friends at the train station and shoot up.

Yes, I watched another "drugs suck" film ... it seems this is a much larger genre than I suspected. This one, however, meets my own prejudices for being acceptable. There is extensive character development where we learn something of what led the characters to these destructive choices, they don't make me dizzy with first person POV of the stoned people, and the film ends leaving some hope. Maltin complains about the included David Bowie concert material as being unimaginative. Even though this is far from my favorite genre, I am not sorry I watched it. The film gave good insight on the process of addiction, and the role peer pressure plays. The had an excellent dubbed English track, but no subtitles. I would have preferred to watch it in German, if the subtitles would have been there to help. 


Brunkhorst shows buns in a lengthy undressing scene. She also has a see-through after she vomits wine all over herself and has some pokies.
Scoop's comments in yellow:

I think Tuna described it fairly, except he got the wrong genre. Probably a bad translation on the dubbing. In fact, I rate it the top film ever in its genre.

Here's my case. Kid is a sweet, respectful little 13 year old girl, playing with her kitty and her dollies. Then she listens to David Bowie music, and this causes her to get a tattoo and hang out at the sleazy train station. Then she goes to a Bowie concert, and it turns her into a crack ho. Therefore, it isn't a "drugs suck" movie, but a "David Bowie Sucks" movie. If Tuna's German were better, he could have listened to the original soundtrack, in which case one can clearly hear the guys say "Whoa, mein dude, saugt Herr Bowie so tief, daß ich Heroin brauche."

How does it compare to other movies in this genre:

  • Velvet Goldmine is really about David Bowie, and the music sucks, but it isn't really a very good film in the genre because it is possible to finish that film and still believe that David Bowie doesn't suck.
  • The Man Who Fell to Earth demonstrated that David Bowie sucked, but that wasn't the point of the film, and it did so without any music. At least I don't think that was the point of the film.

Therefore, it may be possible to argue that Christiane F is the best "David Bowie Sucks" movie ever, and it is undoubtedly the best one in German. In fact, since it is in mono sound, it makes Bowie suck even worse. Because of this, we should honor and treasure it as an important artifact of our brief human contribution to this ancient planet, sort of like the Pieta and the first microwave waffles.

On the technical scale, however, this puppy leaves a lot to be desired on the Region 1 DVD.

  • It's supposed to reproduce the 1.75 theatrical aspect ratio. I couldn't get it to play or capture at that ratio, not on a DVD-rom drive nor a stand alone DVD player. I don't think you'll be able to watch it at the correct ratio either.
  • As Tuna pointed out, there are no English subtitles. You either watch it in German or in dubbed English.
  • Mofo'n picture is too dark.
  • Sound is monaural in both languages. 

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 1.75:1

  • no significant features

Chance's comments in aqua:

I saw this movie several times, first when it was released in theatrically in 1981.

It is, in my opinion, the best and most accurate film ever made about the drug problems in Germany. Maybe you have to see it in the original version, but in order to understand fully, you have to understand some nuances that you only know if this is your native language. You also have to be familiar with the situation in Germany during this time.
The life in the "apartment buildings" wasn't fun in the 70s and 80s and isn't nowadays. Many of the kids who lived in those residential blocks had only one wish: to escape this ghetto in some way. Lots of them tried to do this by using alcohol or drugs. A bad solution.
Trust me, I know enough of this theme. I was a police officer from 1977 to 1985 and as you can imagine, I saw a lot of victims of this kind. I am myself addicted to alcohol (dry 6 years) and member of a self-help group which includes not only alcoholics, but also people who are addicted to drugs. So I get my information first hand.
Tuna pointed out the brilliant performances of both actors, and I have to agree. But the hope he mentioned, the closing statement in the movie, happened much later. Christiane returned back into the heroin scene two years later. The first psychological treatment didn't help her.

I am not sure, but if I remember correctly she gave it a second try and she is now clean and still alive.

The Critics Vote

  • Maltin 2.5/4

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 7.0
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is about a C, but a very weak C from a technical perspective.

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