Episode 1 – | Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 2 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 3 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 4 – | Review Score – 2.5/5
Episode 5 – | Review Score – 2/5
Episode 6 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 7 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 8 – | Review Score – 2.5/5
Modern remakes usually go one of two ways. They either enhance and adapt the source material while paying tribute to the original – or they do the exact opposite. Oftentimes this latter approach leads filmmakers into distorting said material and trying to make something new. Sometimes it works but more often than now, it really doesn’t. We Children from Bahnhof Zoo then unfortunately falls squarely into the latter.
We Children from Bahnhof Zoo is a glitzy, stylized, modern remake that takes its source material and bastardizes it into something less like a cautionary tale and more a light stroll through the world of drug taking.
For those aware of the book and its 1981 movie adaptation, We Children from Bahnhof Zoo is a harrowing experience. It’s a story about a group of 13 year old teenagers who get wrapped up in the world of illegal drugs and slip further and further down the rabbit hole. Unfortunately the end of that rabbit hole leads to prostitution and heroin addiction.
On paper, the idea of serializing this across 8 episodes is actually quite a good one, with enough room to really grow into the characters and move things in a unique direction. Instead, We Children from Bahnhof Zoo takes everything that’s inside the book and adds a Euphoria-level glitzy shine to the aesthetic. Accompanied by anachronistic music, digital camera work and some surprisingly stupid drug taking scenes, We Children is a pale pretender of what’s come before.
That’s a real shame because there’s a lot of source material to draw from here, especially given this is based on the gripping memoirs written by Christiane F. herself. Within this tale, we follow six young teenagers as they struggle to find their place in life. With each suffering from problems at home, the kids eventually turn toward the heady world of narcotics and drinking. One thing leads to another and these boys and girls become more and more addicted.
Now don’t get me wrong, the second half of this series – and particularly episodes 6 and 7 – actually do a pretty good job switching things up and showing a much darker and serious tone to the harmful effects of drug taking. There are a few moments that really echo the horrors in the book too. It’s just a shame that these segments are so few and far between.
Instead, for much of the run-time We Children brushes over the horrible world of addiction, showing a few scenes of vomiting and sweating after going cold turkey, before switching up to a scene straight back to thick layers of make-up and big smiles. It’s not true to the original, it’s certainly not true to drug addiction and it’s not true to its target audience.
In fact, We Children from Bahnhof Zoo feels like a show that can’t quite decide who its audience actually is. Fans of the original book will almost certainly be put off by this, while those impressionable enough to see this as hip and stylish are too young for this and should probably steer clear. Seeing these girls all standing on the street corner laughing and joking about selling their bodies while music plays in the background just feels wrong on so many levels – especially when you remember these kids are 13.
We Children from Bahnhof Zoo is unfortunately not a show I’d recommend watching in a hurry. If you’re at all interested, you should definitely go and check out the novel or the movie instead though. This stylized, glittery pretender certainly has some great visuals but they account for nothing with such a tonally confused narrative. With a bit of reworking and more emphasis on the rehab and addiction side of things, We Children could be a really great cautionary tale for teenagers. Instead, it’s a show lost in its own intoxicating drug of visual splendor.