Archive for the ‘Art Rock’ Category

I had some friends over last night to celebrate the music and films of David Bowie. The playlist spanned Bowie’s career from the early ‘70s to the 2010s. (It wasn’t easy narrowing down Bowie’s catalog to a three hour playlist). The movie we chose to watch was Nicolas Roeg’s The Man Who Fell to Earth. As we were discussing Bowie’s music in movies, someone mentioned a film I had never heard of – Christiane F. It’s a German film about a teen growing up in a bleak part of West Berlin in the mid-70s who falls in with a drug crowd and eventually becomes a heroin addict. Bowie provided the soundtrack for the movie and also appears in the film. One of the first things I did today was watch the movie on YouTube.

Based on the non-fiction book Christiane F. – Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo, the film is about a bored young girl sick of her uneventful life who finds excitement inside the walls of the Sound, a popular youth nightclub. While there she meets and falls in love with Detlev, a 15-year-old heroin addict who we later learn supports his habit by male prostitution. By age 14, Christiane is addicted to heroin and has also resorted to prostitution to feed her addiction. The movie, directed by Uli Edel, was released in 1981 and caused a sensation upon its release in Germany. Not only was the story shocking it also brought to light an epidemic of youth heroin addiction that was sweeping across Europe. The movie was also given a somewhat wide release in the US but didn’t make much of an impression, probably due to its grim subject matter.

With how much Bowie’s appearance in the film was promoted, I was surprised that he had so little to do with the storyline. Except for a live concert appearance (which seems somewhat out of place), his music is mostly used as a backdrop to the story. Most likely the studio was trying to cash in on Bowie’s popularity. Although the movie is set in the mid-70s, the soundtrack draws largely from Bowie’s Berlin trilogy recorded a couple of years later. As Christiane first enters the Sound, “Look Back in Anger” is blaring from the speakers, and “Boys Keep Swinging” is played during a gang fight prior to a Bowie concert (both songs from the 1979 Lodger album). Regardless, the music adds to the hopelessness and despair to one of the most disheartening movies I’ve seen in a while.

In the film, Bowie performs “Station to Station” off the self-titled album. Since Bowie was performing on Broadway at the time, some of the crew and cast members were brought over to New York City for filming. If I’m not mistaken, you can see the beginnings of his Let’s Dance look.

 

After Christiane meets some new friends at the Sound, they decide to have some fun by running, and falling, and wreaking general havoc in a subway station to Bowie’s “Heroes.”