Eight Miles High (2007)

 “This is fucked up. I only meant a metaphorical bomb.”

The interesting but ultimately unsatisfying and superficial biopic Eight Miles High (Das Wilden Life) from director Achim Bornhak covers just a portion of the life of German supermodel Uschi Obermaier–from the mid 60s until 1983. Culturally, these were probably the colorful years, but when the final credits rolled, I couldn’t help but wonder what parts of the story were missing….

eight-miles-highThe film begins when Uschi (Natalia Avelon) leaves home and her big-bosomed Bavarian mother behind and sets out for Berlin, landing in Berlin’s first commune–aptly named Kommune 1. In the ‘free love’ atmosphere, she begins sleeping with Rainer Langhans (Matthias Schweighofer), and the free love notion works well for Rainer until Uschi becomes a groupie and starts sleeping with Mick Jagger (Victor Noren) and Keith Richards (Alexander Scheer). Uschi’s relationship with two members of the Stones begins with a trip to England where she attends a party that could, uncannily belong to the Beggars Banquet album. The camera rightly concentrates on the impressions of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards–studiously avoiding close-ups and facial expressions.

The film depicts Uschi as the major reason for Kommune 1’s disintegration, and since she took ‘free love’ to a level, that apparently her lover Rainer could not tolerate, this might be accurate, and if it’s not true it’s certainly amusing. The residents of Kommune 1 are depicted as a bunch of brawling, immature, egomaniacal twits with Uschi as the only one who has her shit together.

The claim that Uschi was a “radical model” is shown is her ability to grab the cinematic opportunity–especially when she managed to get her photo on the cover of a magazine depicting her in between the police and protesters. Uschi continued to grab headlines worldwide and this continued after her explosive relationship with Hamburg nightclub owner Dieter Bockhorn (David Scheller)–a free spirit of an entirely different sort. Together he and Uschi traveled the world in pursuit of new adventures. These adventures are largely interpreted as Uschi going around naked (or marginally clothed), picking up animals, and daringly toting drugs across borders under the noses of the buffoons in charge.

Ultimately with lines like “what I needed was a man. The wilder the better” we are left with little understanding of what made Uschi tick. True she’s depicted as a woman who refused to allow any man to own her but this comes across in just a couple of scenes in mostly superficial ways. While the film was entertaining enough, this is a largely superficial treatment of Uschi’s life. I’d like to think that there was a lot more going on than just naked romps across the world. In German with subtitles.

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