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Christiane F: Directed by Ulrich EdelChristiane F: Directed by Ulrich Edel

Chloe Sevigny once commented that every single outfit the lead actress wore in in this cult German classic was perfection. Which doesn't mean Christiane F's looks were in anyway flamboyant or self-consciously quirky. What is perfect about this chronicle of a nice German girl's descent into the wilds of urban nightclubs, heroin addiction and prostitution is the exquisite lack of self-consciousness on the part of the young lead actress, Natja Brunkhorst. What she wears is super-normal, almost to the point of banal . But Christiane is too tall...with her too long arms and too long legs and so the poportions of what she wears are always off. Too small jackets, dangling vests...sweaters that never cover her wrists. There is a scene where she is running away (all knock knees of course) from the police in a German shopping mall with her new found posse of bad boys and girls. It's just her in a tiny satin baseball jacket, jeans and heels but as her lanky body bolts through the flourescent wasteland of that shopping mall she looks so much like the perfect Marc/Miu-Miu/Balenciaga/Calvin model that you realize where the appeal of the awkward gamine stems from for so many designers. And of course there is the spectre of Bowie hovering over the film making him seem iconic before he was actually an icon. This film is a must buy for every art school kid/fashion fanatic/model scout/emerging photographer. Wonder what ever became of Natja though?

after reading this piece I

after reading this piece I think of the scene where she is begging for money and gets backhanded by a man that she yells at for shunning her.....a john notices her across the street and calls to her and she at first tries to ignore him.....

Does she not totally strut like a model on the catwalk when she is trying to ignore the man in the car LOL

1981, a different place entirely

To our eyes now, in 2008, Christiane's outfits, her overall non-fashion statement, or whatever, does look like she's just really rocking the hell out of 'normal' clothing and hairstyles. But I know that the impact this character had on me in 1981, when I was in the seventh grade, was HUGE. Her look in this movie changed my life...I remember staring at the album cover in the record store at the mall for what seemed like hours, trying to put words to why it made my head spin so...I was blown away by how cool she looked. A seventh grader of today, accustomed to an entirely different aesthetic, wouldn't believe this, because it's long been possible to purchase a variety of eclectic fashion accessories at any middle American retail outlet, no one blinks at the kind of stuff that thirty years ago required a certain amount of courage to go out in public wearing. But back then, you didn't see people dressing that way on television, or in movies. DESIGNERS weren't dressing models that way, at least not the big, well-known designers---I was fortunate enough to live near San Francisco, but anywhere outside very small pockets of hipness in the cities was a veritable cesspool crowded with Dynasty-style shoulder pads, bad perms, and the corn-fed looks of Christie Brinkley smiling out from every magazine cover.
However, 1981, David Bowie was already an icon. Ziggy Stardust had already lived and died...

christiane f

Me too! Absolutely! I was 14 in 81 when the film came to my little boring suburb. I remember standing before the poster, just transfixed. The whole look: Christiane on the subway bench, friend collapsed beside her, in her denim outfit, teeth pulling the tie around her arm, and in the corner, a tiny shot, Christiane walking with Axel along Bahnhof Zoo, denim again, jacket and jeans, long straight hair dyed brilliant red.
I couldn't get in to see the film. It was an 'X', meaning 18 and up. Not that I didn't try, but had to wait for video. Then the look just swept me senseless. There's a scene, CF is hanging out at Zoo, waiting for Detlef to bring back her shot, when suddenly Babsi and Stella show up. Babsi is even more perfect than CF. All three together, it still kills me today. They are so gloriously thin, with a long-legged, awkward quality you just don't get now. They walk off together, red, brown, blond hair, the tight jeans, the little fur jackets. I had this body, and I searched out tight jeans and above all, a ratty moleskin jacket from a second-hand shop. I didn't do so badly, either.
What a look. I don't think you can do it now. It needs this indefinable quality, boned-down, a look nourished on the lousy food of the seventies. Now, it's either caring parents with organic vegetables or it's the fat lazy ones with bags of Doritos. Neither creates this perfect gamine.
Poor Christiane. She never cleaned up. The end of the movie is hopeful, living in Hamburg, learning to be an apprentice bookseller, but the film and book made her notorious. She tasted the high life, was picked up by European intellectuals and art world big-shots and subsequently dropped when the novelty of a 16 year old uneducated junkie hooker at dinner wore off. Book-selling lost its appeal. She joined up with a rock singer, later broke up and then drifted, living off her royalties, no need to work, and always had shot-money. Jail time, rotten boyfriends, methadone, every interview was the same. Then at age 38, there was hope: she had her son and seemed to clean up. She also seemed to be a good mother, even though the drugs clearly came back. He was the one thinng she had, the one thing she could do: no matter what, she could care for her boy.
Then, so recently, ruin. A new boyfriend who was a wanted con-man, wanted them to move to Amsterdam. German Social Services said no. So CF kidnapped her boy, and settled in Holland. Amsterdam can't be the best place for a life-long addict and soon CF was spending all day in bed, drinking a whole bottle of schnapps and getting high. Finally, she had to admit she could no longer care for the boy, went back to Germany, and handed him over to Social Services. Now, she has vanished. She was last seen scoring at Kotsbusser Tor, Berlin's new scene, as Zoo used to be.

Thank You So Much!

I asked the question of whatever became of...and you answered it thoroughly and so beautifully too. Very well written and such a sad summary. Art and can we even hope to seperate them?

I can't even count how many

I can't even count how many times I've seen this movie. Apparently she had never acted before getting this part. She is gangly perfection!

i must have been 12 when i

i must have been 12 when i watched this film probably soon after its release and then shown i think late at night on channel 4. My parents had gone to bed so i was all alone and was often sat in font of the TV watching the odd European film or black and white oldies. actually my mum or dad were probably there but had fallen to sleep, im sure they wouldn't have allowed me to watch it if they had been awake.

At this time i would have been exceptionally shy and uncomfortable with my self. Just finding my sexuality very slight and rather nervous, being from a rough area and a poor family.

I did not actually understand any of the film. I know nothing about drugs, sex or prostitution but at the same time i knew every thing about the film and about christian f.

I never saw or heard about the film again for about 16 years but i never forgot its name and as my life unfolded there became this similarity in life style that i grew up with.

Having just watched the film again recently due to an art piece that i have been working on, it takes me to the iconography of the vision pure brilliance of the piece and what it represented to me for so many years in the back of my mind. And i thank god that on that late night some time in the early 80s i caught the film at 12. It shaped me some what.

Taste is a dictatorship.

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