Christiane F…A Bit of Junkie Film History

Christiane-FfgwI reckon a lot of people have wondered from time to time, whatever happened to Christiane F.

I always felt that this book – and film -had a profound effect on a lot of people.  Christiane -first came out as a book of course, and one worth reading because it was, as is often the case, a lot better than the film. The story for you young ‘ens out there, is about a 14 year old heroin addict living the life of a prostitute in the 24 hour, 7 day a week chaos that is a young junkies life. I say young coz as most junkies get older, life tends to slow down somewhat and is nowhere near as eventful as ones younger years on the gear and on the game….

“In the ’70’s and 80’s [Zoo Station]…was the place for kids, young kids on smack to be precise; buying, selling, shooting up, scamming, sleeping, nodding and overdosing, learning the rules of a game with some very serious consequences and a lot of unspoken rules.”

 

I’m digressing. Christiane F is about a group of misfits and invisible outsiders living inside and outside the Berlin ZOO train station; Now cleaned up considerably of all the ‘riff raff’ back then, in the ’70’s and 80’s it was the place for kids, young kids on smack to be precise, buying, selling, shooting up, scamming, sleeping, nodding and overdosing, learning the rules of a game with some very serious consequences and a lot of unspoken rules.

It is a seriously compelling book for reasons that you’ll have to decide for yourself as you find yourself being dragged under the bus that is Christiane’s life at 14. She is a real person, and this was a real story, an autobiography written by herself some years later, helped along a bit by a journalist. When she was in her early 20’s I believe, the film came out and the media storm that surrounded it had a major impact on her life. In the book/film, we find her at the end….Ok, Ok, I wont spoil it, suffice to say that she struggles with dependency her whole adult like so many of us.

She travelled the world with her money from the book/film, met loads of people, many who kept wanting to give her drugs, and she used drugs all around the world. German critics regularly gave her a hard time especially when they learnt she was back in a methadone clinic somewhere or just back on the gear or just snapped pics of her visual dramas for the papers. Then at around late 30’s or something she had a kid and left Germany because the wonderful papers were already deciding if she would be a fit mother….

PICTURES OF CHRISTIANE – slideshow


So she had her son in Amsterdam (could be a bad place to go methinks? But the Dutch are sooo civilised so I really catch her drift) and then went on a methadone programme as she had got back on the H at some stage there, only to find herself in a battle with social services in Germany and lost her son! interfering Bastards! I will guess we will have to read book 2 to find out if it was a case of need be or not because, yessiree! She has written a long-awaited follow up fans!

CHRISTIANE AT 51 YEARS OLD IN BERLIN: Promoting her new book.

 

I only found all this out recently as it goes. I thought somehow she made a miraculous recovery and became a writer living out her life…Well, I didn’t know where but just last year, I discovered that she had brought out this other book, based on her life since the first book, because sooooo many peeps were interested in what happened to her.

But before I fill in with a bit of info about her new life and book, (Christiane F; My 2nd Life)  here is the film. For any teen junkies or young ones on the game, it’ll touch a few chords and for anyone else, it will touch many more. Its powerful, though maybe a little dated now, but some things never change. It shows us too how young we are at that age, how vulnerable to predators, and how we always think everything is going to work out, that we know the score when we sooo don’t!  Well folks, here is a full dubbed version of her film (original is in German, this one is dubbed not with subtitles). Some of the actors were real junkies from the Zoo apparently.

 Click here for Christiane F’s interview last year with Vice Magazine about her life since the book and film.

And news of Detlef!!

Fuck, these days you can even say hello in person to Christiane on her FaceBook page which she is regularly updating. Go on, you know you want to!

RARE PICTURE OF CHRISTIANE’S BOYFRIEND DETLEF: He was 14 as well and paying for gear as a rent boy, on show behind the lavs at Zoo station along with lots of other young heroin addicted boys at the time. These days he is alive thank god , and apparently mmarried with kids and drives a buus for the disabled.

 

 

Confessions of the first modern drug taker

Thomas de Quincey, after the publication of his book ‘Confessions of an English Opium Eater’  in 1821 emerged as, it is said, as the first modern drug taker of our times, but was he really? In an era when opium was consumed for everything from the mildest cough to childbirth was De Quincey’s literary confession of opium more about historical timing and familiar titillation of the middle classes, rather than any expose of a new or intrepid drug enthusiast?

De Quincey loudly declared himself the ‘only member’ of ‘the true church on the subject of opium’ and, as if to embrace the challenge,  insisted that The English Opium Eater,  was not the same as any other opium pursuant, but rather was of a superior type: ‘I question whether any Turk, of all that ever entered the Paradise of opium-eaters, can have had half the pleasure I had’.

Drug historian Mike Jay, in his excellent article on the subject called ‘The Pope of Opium‘  adds “Although De Quincey did eat his dose on occasions, sometimes carrying a snuff-box of small opium pills, he typically (like most English people) drank it; Interestingly Jay surmises “by identifying himself as an opium-eater, he was entwining something like our modern sense of ‘recreational user’ with the sneer of a cultural outlaw, appropriating a foreign habit and deliberately courting the reader’s disapproval, even disgust“.

A friend directed me to Mike Jays piece on De Quincey’s Confessions and I found it so interesting I had to relay it here -and just for an extra buzz I have added a few bits from the classic movie ‘ Confessions of an English Opium Eater’ with Vincent Price, sure to give you a smile.

Mike Jay tells us that De Quincey now survives as the first modern drug enthusiast, through “not so much breaking a taboo as deliberately creating one by recasting a familiar practice as transgressive and culturally threatening. It was a Byronic double game: baiting the moralists and middlebrow public opinion while delighting the elite with the invention of a new vice”.

De Quincey knew he was “in the crowd but not of it”, and appealing mix of “both aristocrat and outcast” he engineered his following reflecting his own youthful and perhaps voyeuristic fascination with Coleridge and Wordsworth, falling in with the cult of the first celebrity, and perhaps defining our first ‘cool celebrity drug user’.

Jay continues in conclusion to point out that De Quincey’s entire identity was existing through his Confession’s creation, which allowed him to indulge his vice till he died at a ripe age, and to continue to play out romantic dramatisations of the confessional throughout his long and pained existence, ultimately however, to find himself losing the spark of literary vision from the weight of such soporific dependence.

Yet Jay reminds us we should not forget that Quincey’s  “harrowing portrait of the labyrinth of addiction, far in advance of the medical understanding of the day, remains unsurpassed.”

“He was, in modern parlance, a high-functioning addict: the drug enabled him to cope with the self-inflicted stresses of debt, illness and overwork, to persist in a hand-to-mouth existence, to play the victim and indulge an endless drama of persecution. His identity as the Opium Eater served as both cause and excuse for his miserable state. On the rare occasions he had money, he stopped writing and lived the life of leisure he believed to be his birthright; it was his expenditure on opium that forced him back to work, along with his need for fame. The life of the Opium Eater was a living death, but it was also immortality.”

For the entire article, well worth reading, click here. But here is a sample in brief;

 Mike Jay’s discussion on De Quincey as the first real drug enthusiast, begins with an introduction to the classic film, Confessions of an Opium-Eater

There is a little-known film entitled Confessions of an Opium-Eater, shot on a shoestring by Albert Zugsmith in 1962 and starring Vincent Price, an attempt to cash in on and extend his successful series of Edgar Allan Poe adaptations. It opens with vaseline-fogged images of a Chinese junk and a delirious Price voice-over (‘I am De Quincey…I dream…and I create dreams…out of my opium pipe…’) before clarifying that his character is in fact Gilbert De Quincey, a presumed descendent who wanders the seas as a captain-for-hire searching for ‘…well, what every man searches for’. In the Chinatown of late nineteenth-century San Francisco he is drawn into an intrigue between Tong factions that cues a breathless farrago of opium dens, secret passages, caged Oriental women, masked thugs, rooftop chases and hatchet fights: a two-fisted De Quincey against the Yellow Peril.

Beyond the passing observation that Thomas De Quincey would have applauded its racial politics, the film demonstrates two points very clearly. The first is the remarkable persistence of De Quincey the Opium-Eater as the archetype of the modern drugtaker, recognisable enough even to hook teenage audiences in the drive-ins of the southern States (Poe might have been on their school syllabus, but De Quincey surely not). The second is that this recognition depends on no element of either his life or his work beyond his name and the title of his most celebrated book.

For the rest of Mike Jays excellent article on De Quincey, click here.

Here is a terrific trailer of the original film, which will lead you to the entire film as seen on You Tube grouped in about 10 parts. Brilliant stuff.

Oh Jeez, ok here is part 1 an’ all, which gives you a direct link at the end on You Tube to the other 9. Take a chill pill and watch good ol’ Vincent Price at his finest.

The Trip (1967) – Full Movie

A must see and keep! A freakin classic! Written by Jack Nicholson, with Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper. You have got to check this out, or even better, join in and partake of the fine stuff, whilst watching. Totally cool. Nice one el-Jacko!

Story: Peter Fonda decides to take a tab of acid under the supervision on a very young Bruce Dern, who says all the right things and prepares him nicely and then the film progresses throughout Peter’s whole trip delivering some excellent visuals and moments that only happen when trippin. He asks a lot of short questions, like ‘how did that happen?’ ….’ I dont know’…or ‘Where am I?’ …’Here man!’ as the answers that just hang in the air! Classic!  I dont know the background to this film, but i wouldn’t be surprised if they were tripping in some parts of it..If anyone knows any more about it, we’d love to know. It really is an absolute classic and must see.
Vodpod videos no longer available.

 

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