EIGHT MILES HIGHNR
Uschi Obermaier (Natalia Avelon) was a teenager from Bavaria who ran away to Berlin in the late 1960s, where she became a famous model and a brief member of Kommune 1, an alternative hippie group that was constantly harassed by the police. Gorgeous and sexually liberated, she soon wound up in England, where she became the lover of both Mick Jagger and Keith Richards (imagine the pillow talk!).
Tiring of the rock-star scene, Obermaier returned to Germany, where she took up with bar owner/lowlife Dieter Bockhorn (David Sheller). She and her lover then spent the next ten years traveling the world in a bus Bockhorn had customized. But Dieter was killed in a motorcycle accident in Mexico in 1983, ending Obermaier’s peripatetic ways. She is now an American citizen and designs jewelry out of her Topanga Canyon home.
Based on a biography about Obermaier that was a huge bestseller in Germany, Eight Miles High certainly has its moments. It flits from incident to incident effortlessly, and dips into just about every element that made the ’60s and early ’70s either memorable or horrible, depending on your political and spiritual orientation. Free love, radical politics, drug use, rock ’n’ roll lifestyles—it’s all here, and Obermaier was a willing participant in all of it.
The film also benefits from its two leads: Avelon is a pouty stunner who seems to walk around for most of the film in a state of total dishabille, and Sheller, a gangly blond with frizzy hair and a big mustache, paints a convincing portrait of a man who is totally hooked on Obermaier, but also more than a little unhinged.
But the film, which is never less than watchable, also suffers from two serious flaws. Obermaier comes off as a total narcissist whose object in life is to have a good time, no matter who might get hurt along the way. She’s unbelievably hot, but also annoying—not a good combination. As for Eight Miles High’s wallow in the excesses of the era…well, been there, lived that. And seen it all too many times in films and on TV. It’s not that director Achim Bornhak’s movie isn’t well-made. It’s just that the events on display have been covered—over and over and over again. Maybe it’s time someone made a film about the ’60s that didn’t feature a rock soundtrack, drug usage and liberated sexuality. It’s worth a try.