— End credits dedication of Christiane F. (1981)
After watching Out of the Blue, be sure to watch the 1981 German film Christiane F. Like Out of the Blue, Christiane F. tells the story of what happens with adolescent aimlessness turns into self-destruction. Like Out of The Blue, Christiane F. centers on one alienated girl and, like Out of the Blue, it features a dark ending. Unlike Out of the Blue, Christiane F. is actually based on a true story and that makes it all the more disturbing.
Another difference between Out of the Blue and Christiane F. is that, while Out of the Blue‘s Ceebe was motivated by anger, 13 year-old Christiane (Natja Brunckhorst) is mostly just bored. She lives in a drab apartment in Berlin, with her mother and her younger sister. Whenever we see Christiane walking among the concrete buildings that make up her neighborhood, we can see why she’s so frustrated with her life. She lives in a world that literally has no personality or hope for the future.
With nothing else to look forward to, Christiane becomes obsessed with going to Sound, a club that is advertised as the “most modern discotheque in Europe.” Wearing makeup and high heels and lying about her age, Christiane manages to get into Sound and discovers an entire new world. She meets the charismatic Detlef (Thomas Haustein) and a whole new group of friends. All of her new friends use drugs and, eager to fit in and hoping to impress Detlef, Christiane is soon taking part. She quickly goes from smoking pot to shooting heroin to working as a prostitute to finance her habit…
And you know what? Just from the description, Christiane F. sounds like a typical histrionic anti-drug film, a German version of Reefer Madness. Anti-drug films are always based on the idea that the worst possible thing that could happen will always happen and that’s certainly what happens in Christiane F. However, Christiane F. never sinks to the level of propaganda. There’s an authenticity to the film’s portrait of what it’s like to feel lost and alienated. It captures the gnawing despair of feeling as if the rest of the world knows something about happiness that you’ll never be able to understand.
Which is not to say that the film doesn’t work as an anti-drug film. I would never do heroin anyway but if I was so inclined, Christiane F. would change my mind. As Christiane and her friends become addicts, the film takes on an element of Cronenbergian body terror. When Christiane’s friends overdose, the camera lingers over their thin, scarred, and blue bodies. In perhaps the film’s most shocking scene, Christiane is attacked in a public restroom by a junkie who steals her heroin and then proceeds to shoot up in front of her, plunging the syringe into his neck.
Christiane F. is a powerful film, featuring an excellent lead performance from Natja Brunckhorst and a great soundtrack from David Bowie. Watch it with Out Of The Blue but make sure you’ve got a comedy ready to go afterward.