Christiane F. (Ulrich Edel, 1981)

A shocking testimony, a unique style and David Bowie. The perfect ingredients for and unforgettable film, “Christiane F.”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g5gHn87cncY&w=560&h=315]

It was at first place a journalistic phenomenon in Germany that was soon transcribed into a book and eventually brought to screens in 1981. “Christiane F.” (“Christiane F. – Wir Kinder Vom Bahnhof Zoo”) was then – and it still is – one of the toughest stories about the horrors of addiction, drugs and juvenile prostitution ever seen.
Christiane Felscherinow (Natja Brunckhorst) is a thirteen-year-old adolescent, polite and decent who worships David Bowie. Her mother – who recently divorced – doesn’t have much time for her or her little sister, and prefers spending such time with her new boyfriend Klaus. When Christiane starts going out to Sound – the trendiest nightclub in Berlin – and meeting new young people, it doesn’t take long until she begins experimenting with alcohol and pills. It is also the time when she meets Detlev (Thomas Haustein), with whom she will enter the spiral of addiction to heroin and later on in prostitution. “Christiane F.”  is a true story narrated in first person with a slow, contained cadence that shows the ease with which Christiane and her friends – too young and vulnerable – fall into the horrors of drugs and prostitution. The film explicitly shows how these teenagers get heroin shots, prostitute desperately to pay their doses or how they go through withdraw to quit heroin – body shaking, sweating, vomiting… – to later fall back into addiction.

Christiane F. 4

Apart from the forceful plot, the movie is also admirable from a cinematographic point of view. Ulrich Edel’s camera stylizes a shocking reality with an excellent cinematography, a costume design that cares for the smallest detail, an unknown yet exceptional cast and a soundtrack provided by David Bowie, who also appears in the film. All this builds up the atmosphere – Berlin’s 70s and 80s – that accompanies the story of Christiane F. and makes the movie a unique cinematographic phenomenon.
There is debate whether “Christiane F.” is still a phenomenon for its dramatic content or for its aesthetic and style. It is true that Bowie helps and will help to keep it alive if not forever for a very long time, but this should not mislead us. “Christiane F.”  is one of the hardest stories out there in the cinematographic scene, and unique and unrepeatable phenomenon that despite the years has  never grown old.
 
By Nicolás Solís

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Christiane F. – Ulrich Edel, 1981

Un testimonio impactante, un estilo único y David Bowie. Los ingredientes perfectos para un film inolvidable, “Christiane F.” 

Fue en primer un lugar un fenómeno periodístico en Alemania que en poco tiempo fue transcrito en forma de libro y que finalmente se adaptó a las pantallas en 1981. “Christiane F.” (“Christiane F. – Wir Kinder Vom Bahnhof Zoo”) fue entonces – y sigue siéndolo – uno de los relatos sobre los horrores de la adicción, las drogas y la prostitución juvenil más duros que se hayan visto.
Christiane Felscherinow (Natja Brunckhorst) es una adolescente de trece años, correcta y decente que adora a David Bowie. Su madre – apenas divorciada – no tiene demasiado tiempo para ella o su hermana pequeña, y el que tiene prefiere pasarlo con su nuevo novio Klaus. Cuando Christiane empieza a salir a Sound – la discoteca de moda en Berlin – y a conocer a nuevos jóvenes, no pasa demasiado tiempo hasta que comienza a experimentar con alcohol y pastillas. Es también cuando conoce a Detlev (Thomas Haustein), junto a quién entrará en la espiral de la adicción a la heroína y más adelante en la prostitución. “Christiane F.” es un relato verídico en primera persona con una cadencia lenta, contenida, que muestra la facilidad con la que Christiane y sus amigos – demasiado jóvenes y vulnerables – caen en los horrores de la droga y la prostitución. La película muestra explícitamente cómo estos adolescente se pinchan, se prostituyen desesperados para poder pagar sus dosis o incluso cómo pasan el mono intentado dejar la heroína – temblores, sudores, vómitos… – para más tarde caer de nuevo en la adicción.

Chirstiane F. 2

Además del contundente argumento, la película tampoco pasa desapercibida desde el punto de vista cinematográfico. La cámara de Ulrich Edel estiliza una realidad impactante con una fotografía excelente, un vestuario que cuida el más mínimo detalle, un cast desconocido y sin embargo excepcional y una banda sonora aportada por David Bowie, quién además aparece en la película. Todo ello construye la atmósfera – la del Berlin de los años 70/80 –  que acompaña al relato de Christiane F. y que hacen del film un fenómeno cinematográfico único.
Existe el debate de si “Christiane F.” sigue siendo un fenómeno cinematográfico por su contenido dramático o por su estética y estilo únicos. Es cierto que Bowie ayuda y ayudará a mantenerla viva si no para siempre durante mucho tiempo, pero esto no debe confundirnos. “Christiane F.” es uno de los relatos más duros que hay en el panorama cinematográfico, un fenómeno único e irrepetible que a pesar de los años nunca ha envejecido.
 
Por Nicolás Solís

 

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