Christiane F. (Wir Kinder Von Banhof Zoo)

Date: 03 July, 2001   —   $20.24   —   DVD / VHS

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Christiane F. is a very well-known film in Germany but for all intents and purposes obscure anywhere else. The brutal true story of a 14 year old Berlin girl who goes from childhood into heroin addiction. It was originally a book collaboration between the protagonist and 2 reporters from the factual magazine Stern

The most shocking part is the normalisation of it all. That is especially prevalent, Christiane is not a born rebel, her home circumstances mirror that for so many children she does not have a background of violence, drug abuse or prostitution. The crowd she has got in with a not a particularly riotous bunch just average teenagers. The whole mundaneity is so disquieting because you can’t dismiss it as another world somewhere that you and your children do not inhabit.

The fact is that she is still a child and this comes back to the fore every now and again, she is ill-equipped to deal with life in the real world and certainly not at this its most sharpest end both literally and metaphorically.

There is no neat happy ending, this isn’t a film that ties things up nicely, after all that would kind of undermine the point of it and real life simply isn’t that packaged up. Whilst you have an idea of some of the things that are going to happen it is still powerfully shot as a film it doesn’t lessen the impact.

This told of a different Berlin from the one I knew. The Berlin I loved was dark at times but in a mystifying haze of intrigue and the like. But that was only the real Berlin for films and spies. The everyday Berlin was no different for those who lived there from the London I grew up in and learnt to despise. If you take a look out there on the net, this film remains a cult and there are still teenagers wanting to emulate the Banhof Zoo lifestyle, I find that very disturbing. There is still a culture looking up to the original heroin chic, which would suggest that none of the anti-drugs messages really have any longevity.

It is not your classic anti-drugs film, after all the real Christiane F is still alive though having had a number of runs ins with the police for re-using heroin. Once again this adds to the obvious authenticity of it. it is not simply some morality tale, it is a document of somebody’s life, it serves as a cautionary tale in many ways but only because those of us not in that situation can look upon it from the comfort of our own living rooms and be sure that we’d rather be here than there. Hopefully we have the ability to ensure that our children feel the same.

Christiane gave this interview in 1981 some 5 years after the interviews she gave that led to the film. I found it sad, it seemed to show into the mind of what could have been. She now lives in Spandau, Berlin with her son.

Song Of The Day ~ David Bowie – Helden