Saturday, March 23, 2013

Blu-ray Review: Christiane F. (1981)

Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo

Director: Uli Edel

Starring: Natja Brunckhorst

The Film:
Released in 1981 Christiane F. is the true story of Christiane Felscherinow. She is 13 years and living with her mother and younger sister in a concert high rise apartment building in a dull and undesirable neighbourhood on the outskirts of West Berlin during the late 1970s. She is bored with nothing to do and is unsatisfied with her home life. She learns of a new disco night club called ‘Sound’ Legally she is too young to go so she dresses herself up and goes with a girl in her class who is a couple of years older.

It is at Sound where she is seduced by the wild night life; and where she meets a group of teens around her age who experiment with various drugs. Desperate to fit in and to be accepted she succumbs to the pressure of taking drugs herself. By by the time she is 14 she has started using heroin, where she rapidly descends deeper into the terrifying abyss of addiction and as a result resorts to degrading acts like prostitution in order to maintain her habit. Much of this takes place at Berlin’s largest railway terminal known at the time as Bahnhof Zoo.

I’m not easily shocked but this very graphic and confronting film managed to do so a number of times. Films like this appeal greatly to me as I value and appreciate realism. I like to see things how they truly are, as graphic as it may be; which this film managed to accomplish very well.

Director Uli Edel holds nothing back; the film is shot in a way that gives a real feeling of authenticity, presenting a very raw depiction of the drug culture of that era. And capturing to great effect the bleakness and despair these young people go thorough on a daily basis trying to get that fix at whatever cost.

Natja Brunckhorst who plays Christiane gives a very convincing performance in her first ever film role. She does appear to be a little awkward in some scene but it’s understandable given the subject matter. The young cast consists of mainly unknown actors who give fine performances which is a huge credit to them all.

One of the film’s most appealing qualities is the amazing soundtrack provided by musical icon David Bowie, who Christiane is a huge fan of. He makes a pretty spectacular guest appearance in concert held in the city where Christiane and her friends all attend. It’s kind of ironic that Bowie provided the soundtrack to this film being that during the late 70s he was at the lowest point of his cocaine addiction and decided to move to Berlin kick the habit a revitalize his career, which he did with great success.

Christiane F. is such an intense and powerful film. At just over two hours long I was at no point board with the plot, I found it captivating, unable to look away. Although it is over 30 years old I think these are the types of film that should be shown in high schools as part of anti-drug programs, as it’s an in depth look into a dehumanizing world that most of us can’t even being to imagine being a part of.

The Blu-ray:
After I first watched this film two years ago my first thought was that is a film that is in dire need of a Blu-ray release as the DVD which I own is quite poor despite is being from a popular distributor. Even the subtitles were at times distorted and grammatically incorrect. So I was quite surprised to say the least when I saw Christian F. on Blu-ray listed on Amazon Germany. I believed it was released late last year but I do not have the exact date. It’s a welcome release however it does not include subtitles and I don’t speak German, not nearly well enough anyway. But as I’ve wanted to learn the language for a while now I take this as a good incentive to finally do so. Although I have been quite surprised as to how much I’ve been able to pick up while watching certain scenes.

Picture/Audio Quality:
I was pretty sceptical about the picture and sound as Christian F. is a pretty obscure film that was never really given good treatment even on DVD. But I’m please to say that the video transfer is significantly better, fully remastered to HD 1080/24p. The colour is still a little bland which I think works in the film’s favour but the image overall is much cleaner and sharper with a lot more depth.

The audio is presented in two separate tracks, DTS 2.0 Mono and DST-HD Master Audio 5.1.
They both sound amazing, especially the Mater Audio finally doing justice to the brilliant soundtrack provided by David Bowie.

Unfortunately there are no extras except for a number of trailers from Euro Video.

Rating: 4.5/5

No comments:

Post a Comment