Aug 31, 2012

Review: Christiane F. – Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo - 1981




Christiane F. – Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo
Aka: Vi barn från Bahnhof Zoo
Director: Uli Edel
1981
Drama

When Christiane turns fourteen she tries to inject heroin for the first time. She has previously snorted it and used both valium and hashish. Her life begins to take a different and more decadent path, in fact, her life shatters. Her friends decrease in numbers and she only has one thing in common with the ones she got left – the drugs! But they cost money and where can a fourteen year hold get money? She turns to prostitution and learns the hard way of street life, how it works or rather how it does not work and descends into a world of drugs and prostitution.

This movie has often been praised as a masterpiece in various contexts and there’s no doubt about that it’s a great movie. But to be frank I was a bit disappointed with the initial 40-45 minutes. I didn’t think it was something special at all. Movies about youngsters in trouble have been made before and I tried really hard to figure out the difference between this and the other movies, our Swedish movies – G and Sova Räv for example. But it doesn’t take long to figure it out, what follow the first 45 minutes is something completely different. There is a rare realism both macabre and believable, it even disgusting and revolting on a couple occasions.

It is a film about drug abuse like no other to be sure. There’s no way to be certain on who lives and who dies when the end comes. Well, except the main character since the film is based on the book which is based on interviews done with the real Christiane. The filthy world she and the other live in is described fabulously and the environment is magnificent. The actors are great and it’s hard to believe that there just actors really. They could be the people they play for all I know but we have to settle on calling it authentic. It’s very nicely done!

There is no glamorizing or glorifying of the drugs anywhere. It’s a brutal film and it’s like punch in the stomach when it comes to realism, but that’s not what makes it so good in my opinion. What makes it good is that it lures the emotions out of the viewer in scenes that shouldn’t even be too emotional. Of course it’s tragic when people overdose and so forth but in a film with this story it’s something to be expected. But the love story between Christiane and Detlev is very touching. They seem, in despite that the main attraction between then is the drugs, to have an unselfish relationship. But on the other hand, when they the anxiety kicks in by full force the unselfishness are gone…

And I must mention the amazing, brilliant, magnificent, revolting scene where the abstinence kicks in for real! I don’t think I’ve ever seen something more frightening. It’s surely discouraging and I hope that the scene is strong enough to discourage from ever begin with the evil – the drugs!