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Berlin: City in the Movies
Posted February 19, 2010 to photo album "Berlin: City in the Movies"
Scott Macaulay clicks through the various characters this city has played.
Slide 8: Christiane F - City of Drugs
The eponymous Christianne F. of Uli Edel’s 1981 film was based on a real West German teenager who lived in the Neukoln area of the city. By the time she was 15, Christianne F. was a heroin addict and prostitute, working with other young junkies at the Bahnof Zoo train station. She was interviewed by two journalists researching an article on youth and drug addiction, and those transcripts formed the basis of an autobiographical book, Christianne F — Wir Kinder vom Bahnoff Zoo. The 1979 memoir was an unlikely international success, and Christianne F. went on to work as an advisor to the film, which parallels the book in not only chronicling drugged-out Berlin street kids but also the equally narcotics-drenched club scene of the time, a milieu mined by David Bowie and Iggy Pop for albums like, respectively, Low and The Passenger. Despite the bleakness of Edel’s film and its unflinching look at heroin withdrawal, it was a cult hit and Christianne became an unlikely role model. From a 1981 Time Magazine piece on the film’s opening: “As teen-agers packed theaters last week to see the cinematic Christiane F., played by Natja Brunckhorst, 14, experts on drug abuse feared that despite the film's realistic scenes of drug withdrawal, West German youths might be turning the former addict into a cult heroine and possibly a role model. Many teen-age girls have begun to imitate Christiane's style of dress and make pilgrimages to her former haunts. Complains Wolf Heckmann, West Berlin's drug commissioner: ‘The book and film have increased interest in drugs in this city. Kids who come to visit used to ask to see the Berlin Wall. Now they want to see the Zoo Station.’"