It’s David Bowie’s Fault

Christiane F. how could I forget her? The name is very well known in Germany and other German-speaking countries. Men and women close to my age, remember her well. We met her in school that day when our teacher dimmed the lights. It was movie time. “We talk about it later.”

Our eyes focused on the screen, we got very quiet, very quickly. What we saw fascinated us, terrified us, disgusted us. This girl was a young teenager like we were. She was wearing make-up for the first time, she fell in love with a boy, she looked so pretty. A little bit out of control perhaps, running with the wrong crowd. Then she changed and all of a sudden she looked so much older. She became an addict, a thief -she became a prostitute.

Her life was different from ours, but then maybe it wasn’t? Most of us traveled home by train twice a month over the weekend. We were protected and safe in our boarding school but on our way home to Germany, Austria, Italy -or wherever home was- we walked into real life.

Waiting for our trains, we had seen kids like Christiane F.

They were dirty, filthy-looking addicts. This could never happen to us, right?

Christiane F. the David Bowie fan was real, is real to this day. A camera team that had followed her, had captured on film how she went from smoking weed to shooting up heroin. The movie was released in 1981 but premiered a year earlier in many schools. I was 16 years old back then, right at the age where many of us became curious about alcohol and drugs.

Christiane F. -Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo -We, the children from the train station Zoo (A train station in West Berlin).” Her story scared me for life, and for all of you, who follow my story Losing it All, Christiane F. is the reason why I never smoked pot.

Her dark hopeless eyes, her skeleton face, her uncombed hair. Her picture is brand-marked in my mind.

Sadly, the film has never been translated into English, which is a pity, because it would shock students in English-speaking countries the same way it had frightened me. I wish the film would find its way into classrooms all over the world.

David Bowie wrote the soundtrack to the movie, he also plays himself in the movie. The trailer for the movie, playing his song “Heroes” doesn’t need words.

Yes, David Bowie should get part of the blame (praise) for my drug abstinence.

Christiane F OST cover.jpg

5 thoughts on “It’s David Bowie’s Fault

  1. Clearly her very sad story really did make an impact on you, Bridget, and probably countless others. It is a shame it was never translated into English. I have recently been playing the “Heroes Symphony” composed by Philip Glass from the the music of David Bowie. I saw it performed a few years ago and it made such an impression on me that I play the CD often. I will have some different associations to draw from next time I do!

    Liked by 2 people

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